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I Love Poker!

by Rolf Slotboom |  Published: Apr 01, 2006


There was a time (long before I switched to becoming a writer and TV commentator, and also before I had shifted my attention to Internet play) when I played in my regular casino at least five or six days a week. It was just like work. I came in every day at about 7 p.m., the game started at 8, and I played poker until the closing time of the casino, 3 a.m. I would be home by 4 in the morning, get up at around 2 in the afternoon, and leave again at about 6:30 p.m. so that I could be in the casino at 7. A monotone way to live one's life, you say? Well, yeah, certainly – and even more so when you take into account my playing style, which could be described at the time as "extremely tight." Usually, I would not be involved in more than seven or eight pots a night, and on some days I would not even win more than just two or three pots. So, monotone, yes – but boring? No, not in the least. I loved every single minute of it.

People who don't know much about poker often wonder what it is that makes people so fond of the game. Is it the gambling, the macho atmosphere? Is it the competition of who is best, the challenge, the bragging rights for those who have won? Is it the thrill of winning a pot on a stone-cold bluff, the thrill of beating others because of the way you play rather than because of the cards you get? Is it the camaraderie, being out with the boys? Or, is it simply the money?

Well, I guess that for most people it is probably a little bit of everything. While to some poker is nothing more than a pleasant pastime or just another way to spend an otherwise lonely evening, more and more people nowadays truly love the game, and have a genuine desire to become the best player they possibly can. They spend time with their friends talking about situations, discussing what they did and should have done, and so on. They analyze their decisions and their results on the computer, read some of the excellent books that are available, and approach the game in an analytical and self-critical manner – always fueled by a true love for the game. Many players nowadays approach the game in exactly this manner; and yes, I am indeed one of them.

Recently I was faced with my first-ever downswing on the Internet. Well, it was not really a downswing, but for quite a while – a period of 10,000 or 12,000 hands or so – I just didn't seem to get many lucky breaks. I would set up a pot perfectly and create the best possible situation for my hand to get maximum value out of it, yet in the end, I always lost. Of course, I picked up a few small pots here and there, but almost without exception, the big pots, the truly important ones, went to someone else. For a period of a month or two, I was faced with battling to come back from behind, only to get into in a new hole, fight back once more, and so on. It was a period when I had to play to the absolute best of my abilities, because Lady Luck simply had bad intentions, and my opponents were slowly but surely starting to lose their respect for me, seeing that I could not win a hand.

Then, just when I started to lose faith a bit and was starting to doubt my own abilities, I won two huge pots when I overplayed some good but not great hands. It was clear that I had made two flagrant errors, yet I had gotten rewarded with two of the biggest pots I had ever won online. From there, I went on to experience the best run I had ever had, one of those rare periods when pots just seem to come your way automatically. I was making more money during that time than I had ever made before – because of a rush that had started for me with two badly misplayed hands.

I love poker! spade