Poker Either for Fun or Money
What is this allure that poker has over its’ players? Why do we, as poker players, play hour after hour, day after day; perhaps even sometimes playing so much as to neglect our other hobbies, housework, homework, so on. I ask you to ask yourself, is it the potential of winning money or is it the pure pleasure of the game?
When I started playing poker, I started with cash games, then realized that playing in the lower limit tournaments would actually make my poker money last a lot longer, allowing me to play longer for the money I paid, and thus, I started playing tournaments exclusively. When I ask myself why I play poker, I actually have two reasons and they are directly related to whether I am playing in a tournament or in a cash game.
First, I play in tournaments for the hopes of winning “The Big One”. The normal tournaments I play on a daily basis have the potential cash prize pools to simply keep me playing for the rest of the week or month if I should cash. However, the larger buy in’s, the “Sunday Special’s”, now those are the ones I’m talking about. Where the 1st place money is enough to pay off both of your cars and a down payment on a house…that’s life changing money in my opinion! So,I continue playing those tournaments with the hopes and dreams of one day scoring it big enough to actually make a difference in my family’s financial life.
My second reason is related to cash games and it has to do with the pure pleasure and the socializing aspect of the game. I enjoy nothing more then sitting down at a low limit game and playing loose and reckless, while getting at least ½ the table to do shots with me for every big blind, and just simply having fun. So many poker players have forgotten what its like to have fun. They get grinded down by playing poker daily and unless you take a step back and really look at your emotional being and why your playing poker, you can get yourself into some trouble, mentally.
Which leads us to tilting. Ahhhh, tilting. Such an evil word, is it not? The word that every poker player loves to hear when it’s happening to someone else, but hates to hear when it’s being said about you. To “tilt” is simply to go on an emotional bender, to become angry and frustrated, so much so, that it affects your game and how you’re playing. Noticing when you start to go on tilt is one of the most important aspects of playing poker, in my opinion. If you can’t or don’t recognize it, then you’re doomed for many, many losing sessions or losing tournaments.
If and when your emotions ever get the best of you while playing poker, you have to simply make yourself walk away from the table. Literally get up off your duff and go for a walk. It’s actually quite amazing how easy it can be to stop the tilting process or better prevent you from actually going on full tilt by leaving the table, taking a break, clearing your mind from poker cards and the sounds of chips being shuffled, or the computer beeping at you if you’re playing online.
Even though a lot of us might play poker for fun, there is still always the added element of actually making money while we’re doing something we enjoy. Thus, preventing yourself from getting too emotionally involved is very critical in maintaining the pleasure aspect of poker, and to also prevent the loss of too much money, too quickly. Being on a losing streak is one of the hardest parts of being a poker player, and what may be harder than that is actually recognizing when you are on a losing streak and knowing when to take a break, not just from the table, but from the game.
After playing poker for almost five years now, I’ve taken about six breaks from poker. This means no playing, no reading, no discussing, no doing anything related to poker for a minimum of one week, although my normal break period is usually two weeks. It’s hard as a passionate poker player to leave the game, and to actually quit playing, reading, thinking, or talking about poker but I have found it to be very beneficial. The break allows me to come back to the game refreshed, both mentally and financially, and ready to play poker again!
So remember, the next time you find yourself throwing your computer speakers against the wall because your pocket aces have been cracked five times in one session, take a walk. If the walk isn’t enough to calm down the nerves and bring back the joy of playing poker to your soul, then take a break. You will be amazed at how well it actually works!
This article originally appeared in Woman Poker Player Print Publication.