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Why I Don’t Play Poker Anymore

I used to really like poker. Well, to be more general, I used to really like playing cards. The fascination has died away, like my obsession with pogs and Pokemon.

While the latter two are understandable as they are more related to childhood, a category to which I no longer belong to, for poker it is something entirely different and playing it now only gives feelings of déjà vu, as though its DominoQQ all over again.

I think I can attribute this change to three reasons:

Even if I wanted to play, I couldn’t. No one I know plays poker anymore…I think the poker craze has died down since its heyday back in ’04/’05.    Poker is intrinsically not a very enjoyable game. A wise man (read: someone whose name I can’t remember) once described it as “excruciating boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” That is a perfect description. 90% of the time, you’re really just sitting there watching other people play.    Frankly, I’m not very good. This normally doesn’t dissuade me, but when losing costs money…well…I have to rethink things..  OK, these are all good reasons to quit poker, but saying that I quit because of them is a lie. I quit because of online poker.

Last winter break, I got bored staying home alone in San Ramon. So I figured I’d dump $25 into an online account and see how far I could get playing poker. If I lost, that would be the end of it. If I won, say, $100 or so, I’d cash out.

Yeah, right.

Within the first day, I had nearly $100 in the account. As you might imagine, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Then I calculated it out. 4 hours, $70…I had made $17.50 an hour. But that wasn’t enough. I needed larger stakes. $0.25/$.050 tables weren’t going to cut it anymore.

So over the next few days, I sunk nearly all my waking hours after work into online poker. Passed the $100 mark, then the $200, then the $300…all the way up to $428 and change. I kept pushing the cash-out mark higher and higher. Eventually, I just stopped thinking about cashing out. After all, why stop people from giving me their money?

Then The Hand happened. Every poker player has stories about The Hand.

So it all started when I got pocket rockets (a pair of aces). For those of you who don’t know, this is the “best” pre-flop hand in Hold-Em Poker.

I raise to $20, two people call me into the flop. One of them is the big man at the table (he had more money than me). The other has about $100. The flop comes out: Ace, 9, 5 rainbow. (This means that I have three Aces, and that no one else in the table can beat me with either straight or a flush. Long story short, I am winning this hand by a long shot.)

I’m sitting there salivating. Even better: the big man raises $40.

The other guy folds. And I do the old “online slowplay”. In online poker, you really only have two tells to measure a person by: how much he bets and how long he takes to play. So I pretend I’m thinking really hard and re-raise to $80 at the last possible second. (I AM SO SNEAKY!!)

Then the unbelievable happens. He re-raises again to $150. I’m thinking, what does this guy have? In actuality, I don’t really care. I’ve got a fish, I’m going to catch him. So I go all-in right away. $400.

He calls. I’m loving life. The turn and river come up, 9, Q. The 9 gives me a full house (one of the highest hands in poker.)

We show…and inexplicably, the chips go to him. But how…?

Apparently, that same 9 that gave me a full house on the turn gave HIM a four-of-a-freaking-kind (a very rare, very powerful hand). He had pocket 9’s.

$400. On a 4% chance.

And that, my friends, is why I do not play poker anymore.