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What Online Got

Besides my money, there is something that online poker has that no video game can replace. Therein lies the difficulty in my separation from online poker.

Admittedly, one of the aspects of online poker that I focused on during our long breakup was the fact that it was like a video game. Growing up with videogaming, literally WITH videogaming as it too grew up, I was constantly exposed to the joy of joysticks. Atari begat Commodore begat Nintendo begat Sega Genesis and so on. And in the end, a generation of children learned the joy of beating a game just for the pleasure of getting a splash page and the game credits.

Hmmm. Sounds good. Online poker comes along, and meanwhile, my hands were all cramping up thanks to time killers like Grand Theft Auto in its many incantations. Suddenly, I was playing a new type of videogame, one worth money. And that is it. That is the difference. Not the money exactly, but the real world implications.

As I tried to avoid online poker, I distracted myself with various videogames. None of them are particularly interesting. All killed time and offered some challenge. The awards were all the same. A new cut scene, a new mission or board. I believe that blogging is literary masturbation, essentially done only for oneself. Videogames, as it turns out, is just technological masturbation. In the end, all you are left with is a spent game and a feeling of guilt for the time you wasted. Or, I suppose, the time I wasted.

When videogames began feeling meaningless, online poker entered my life. Here was a videogame that had real world implications. I could win real dollars and cents. Suddenly the time wasted on an endeavor like Zelda was not one solely grounded in self-centered geekiness. It was a challenge that could advance me and wifey Kim, and pay for our new mattress or large screen tv or vacation.

When I returned to videogames, I relearned my love of the games. And then they began to wear old. I avoided joining the MMORPGHSAWs, those big multiplayer games that seem to be social networks more than anything. To me, this was the epitome of time-sucking games, ones that had a built in social pressure to play. I met many friends through online poker and this blog, so I was determined NOT to open myself up to another group of gamers. Call it snobbiness or antisocialness. Whatever the case, I wasn't and I'm still not interested.

But here's the thing. With some downtime last night (wifey Kim has been working non-stop on a computerized communication thingee for one of her clients), I decided to fire up a videogame. I chose one of the Command & Conquer games that I have yet to beat, and after getting my ass handed to me twice, I just didn't care. What was the point, really? I should have better things to do with my time. I mean, I don't, but I should.

So, I fired up PokerStars, and with some trepidation, I went back to work on my $20+ bankroll. Where to go, I wondered. And then I settled on it, a $6.50 Turbo HORSE game.

This was what online poker used to be about for me. It was low stakes. Stakes so low, I barely even noticed winning...or losing. But the truth is, this is probably what I should be playing. I don't need to be playing 5/10 limit games online. My online game is just not there yet, and all I'm doing is leaking off my live game winnings (which so far this year after only one session is about -$95, but I expect to change that soon). I DON'T play CONSISTENTLY well online. And hence, I SHOULDN'T be playing those higher stakes games, plain and simple.

I won the SNG for a $18 or so profit, before losing a PLO8 SNG for a $6.50. But I had a lot of fun, and losing wasn't going to hurt me. Maybe this is what I need to do. Play more low stakes SNGs. Use it as a placebo, a time killer that doesn't cost much but still is legitimate poker (play chips = illegitimate poker). Maybe this is what online poker will have to be for me.

I still don't know how I'm going to play it. I'll probably keep with an SNG or so per night at the low stakes. It'll be good for discipline and keep my poker game from getting rusty. Meanwhile, I've arranged a bevvy of live games to play.

The first is this Thursday. I had brought Matty Ebs to the SIF game and SoxLover's birthday game, mostly because Matty knows how to carry himself at a poker table. He plays well, but just as importantly, he plays well with others. As it turns out, the tides have changed. This time, Matty got me into a lawyers' poker game in the city. Its been a while since I've been a stranger at someone else's home game, but I'm looking forward to it. The game's on Thursday, and there's a good chance you'll be hearing about it here on Friday.

As a final addendum, I want to thank everyone for the well wishes and comments yesterday. I also want to maybe correct something that I didn't make clear. It is embarassing to lose so much of one's online bankroll at once, playing above that bankroll's limitations. That said, there are times in this game that you just face the wrong end of variance. You get second-best hands, or you get sucked out. Sure, that begets some tiltage, but to an extent, that's a part of the game too. My point is, while I am not happy about those losses, my embarassment stems from the proportion to my online bankroll. It does not arise out of my frustration in my own game. The only problem I have with my play was that I was playing too high stakes and I didn't quit when I saw that it would be an uphill struggle.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:02 AM,


At 9:56 AM, Blogger Pokerwolf said...

It's readily apparent that "having a goal" is a major motivating factor for you, Jordan.

I play videogames for one reason: I enjoy them. Honestly, I play poker for the same reason (it's also the reason I'm working on improving my game since it's not fun to lose).

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Having a goal IS a large motivating factor for me, Wolf. I don't mean to knock gamers. I recognize that the part of me that gets "bored" with those games and feels "guilty" about the time suck is really a part of me that is facing a larger problem, depression. It's not overwhelming or anything, but it is that feeling of emptiness that I find heightens (or has a target) when I catch myself playing "meaningless" videogames. Mind you, those games are supposed to be "meaningless" as in meaningless fun.

At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up on all those games also. I remember the first lap top computer that came out it was the size of a large suitcase, didn’t have a hard drive and only used 5” floppy disks. Although I still can play a game of space commander or frogger, the excitement of poker never ends. I think it has to do with the real life effect it has on your financial situation. You got to love the rush of being all in with only a medium hand, especially when they call and you still win.

At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Online poker is a whore.

At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've hit the nail on the head - I started with the original Pong, moved on when the PC became available, played all the original Sierra games, and still love gaming, but poker, which, let's face it, is a terrible video game, has taken it to a whole new level for me because of the money involved. Even at the inconsequential levels I play, the fact that there is cash on the line holds my interest to a degree that other video games cannot.


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