Dear Poker Counselor - My husband and I both love to play poker. We frequent our local casino and also play in a few home games. My problem is that my husband consistently loses and is taking no steps to improve his game. He is capable of playing better but makes the same mistakes over and over again. He also refuses to keep records that would reflect these losses. I, on the other hand, consistently beat the games we play. I keep meticulous records and show consistent profits. I have not gone into my pocket for well over two years. Do I quit playing because my husband is a donkey? He is a grown man and I can't tell him he must stay away from the casino! Normally, the family that plays together, stays together. That is not the case in our house. What can I do? - Emailed by Anne H.
Your question includes this sentence: "Do I quit playing because my husband is a donkey?" It is tough to understand that train of thinking. It seems that you should certainly be the one in the duo that forges ahead in your playing career. If one of you was to quit it looks obvious that it should be him. I suppose what you are implying is that it may be best for you marriage and relationship if you don't share the hobby of poker. You have difficulty stomaching his continual underperformance at the poker tables, and his apparent lack of care & lack or efforts to improve. Like many snafus in any relationship, one of the sticking points may be the discourse in your goals. You seem to be focused and driven for profits, winning and improvement. You are studying the game, keeping copious records, and are always looking inward to see how you can improve on your poker performance and knowledge. Your husband, on the other hand, may be satisfied with his losing ways. You see, he may be more interested in having fun, the camaraderie of the games, and scoring the free drinks at the local casinos. Your success may actually be solidifying that approach, as well. It may be psychologically damaging for him to be beaten by his wife at poker, which he might perceive as a "man's game." Rather than let his ego take the hit, he just coasts along and has some fun. Suddenly, then, he can fault you for "taking a game too seriously." He can feel OK in his own skin knowing that he really isn't competing against you, because he's just out for a good time. It is an "I really wasn't trying, anyway" defense mechanism.
I would say that it is more than possible for you both to stay playing, and perhaps even for you to guide your hubby to better poker results. It will take a bit of subtle psychological manipulation on your part — (a skill many wives have perfected!) Your challenge is to make your successes seem less threatening to him while encouraging his drive for betterment. Don't shove your record books in his face and impose your poker strategies upon him. Instead, back off a bit. Make it seem that you two are a team with comments like, "Well, WE are up $350 on the night." Praise him for his good plays, but don't linger on his bad ones. Look for any chance to boost up his poker ego, sparking his self confidence. Once that fire is lit, the competitiveness may soon emerge. He may then start looking to get better and play smarter. Don't take a step backwards by appearing to be the expert. Instead, make it look like you are a team that is learning and growing together. Ideally, he will eventually catch up to you in terms of skill and play, and you can be a formidable couple in the poker rooms.
Dear Poker Counselor - I'm heading to Vegas to play in the main event (won a seat through a local card room) and hit the cash games. Not my first time to Vegas, but my first time during the WSOP. The butterflies have started. Any advice? - Emailed by Bradley H.
Congratulations on getting a seat in the big show. In reality, 99% of the participants in the main event have at least some "butterflies" at the first deal. It is the main event of the World Series of Poker, you know? Even the savvy pros get really juiced up for this one. You simply have to remember that it is still poker. Play your game. In the tournament and in the cash games, you will not be outclassed and out dueled if your keep your wits and your confidence. The confidence is the key. Hit the cash games in the Rio to get comfortable with the surroundings. Those same guys and gals that you are playing against at those cash games are the same sorts that you'll mostly see at the main event. If you do happen to get seated at the table with a known pro, see it as a challenge. Don't back down. The first big pro that I ever dueled with in a tournament was 3 time bracelet winner, and very aggressive player, John Bonetti. I raised on the button with pocket 5's. He called from the BB and fired out at the junk flop. I called. He fired at me at every turn. I kept calling. I won the pot at the showdown because his K-J missed everything. As I collected the chips I realized that I would have never kept calling versus an unknown amateur. On that raggedy flop, I would've re-raised with my pocket 5's figuring they were still good. I knew that a twinge of intimidation and self-doubt had altered my play, and I vowed to never let that happen again. You can't allow such a thing to seep into your play, as this is the big stage. The stakes are simply too high to make psychological errors. Be tough, be resilient, and be confident. For examples on the amateur confidence that I am speaking of, check out tapes of guys named Hachem, Raymer, and Moneymaker. Good luck to all pokernews readers at the WSOP!
KEEP THOSE QUESTIONS COMING!!! Carlisle14@hotmail.com
Ed Note: Everyone can use a little luck at Pacific Poker