It’s inevitable that when you talk about your boyfriend, people are going to ask: “Well, what does he do for a living?” Andrew has no ordinary profession. He is a full-time, professional poker player.
Let me guess what 99% of you just said in your mind: “IS HE ON TV?”
And let me get this out of the way now: No. No, he is not, just like 97% of the professional poker players in the world. Maybe someday you’ll see him on the World Series of Poker or High Stakes or any other poker show, but not now, OK?
The second most common response I get when I tell people that my boyfriend plays poker for his job is to tell me THE WORST GAMBLING STORY THEY KNOW. I’m not talking about the one time they blew the $50 they got for their birthday at the casino. I’m talking the full on hysterical ones: “Oh my god, my uncle’s best friend’s daughter’s prom date is a professional gambler, and you know what? He lost EVERYTHING playing black jack. Their house, their cars, every last red cent they had. GONE. All because of black jack! It’s so sad…”
One of my favorite stories ever was when a woman I know claimed that the mafia runs all casinos. Her “tale of POKER DOOM” was that a friend’s husband had been a gambling addict forever, and “got clean” before eventually falling back into the clutches of the casino once again. She claimed that one night, he and his wife went to bed, when they were awoken by pounding on their front door. It was…THE MAFIA. They took his house, all of his money, their cars and their possessions, leaving them penniless. All because he gambled at a casino and THE MAFIA RUNS ALL CASINOS. She cautioned me against THE MAFIA.
Being totally clueless about poker has definitely made being with a pro poker player quite the experience. I occasionally go watch Andrew play, and I’ve been inundated with a whole lot of new vocabulary from “that’s a sick beat” or “what a gross hand” as well as finally educating myself about what a flop, a turn and a river are when it comes to the table. I had no idea there were so many billions of different types of games from HORSE (which I always thought of as a basketball game) to Omaha (a small city in Nebraska). I’ve learned about making a wheel, and having the nuts (not nearly as sexy as you might think, at least when the poker table is concerned). The first time he complained about getting “sucked out on” I thought we’d be breaking up for sure, because isn’t that my job? The other big thing is TIME. Andrew plays both cash games and tournaments. Cash games you can leave any time, but tournaments can take forever. I have found that the time a tournament takes is inversely proportional to my tolerance of it. Sometimes he plays Sit-N-Go’s, but more often than not, I find he Sits-N-Stays. Like, way longer than I can tolerate.
I’ve also met the scum of the earth. I kid you not. Poker players often refer to the most serious among them as total degenerates, and let me confirm for you: THEY AIN’T KIDDING. I’ve sat near men who look as if they’ve never washed their hair, guys who appear to not believe in changing clothes and seen more unfashionable visors and sunglasses than I can shake a stick at. Occasionally, people will ask Andrew why he doesn’t bring me around the card room more often, and he’ll tell them: she’s not that kinda girl. And he’s totally right.
I do enjoy some of the funnier moments. For example, Andrew played once and I tagged along. I was drinking, he wasn’t; however, he acted like he was drunk to throw the game, asking people if he should call or bluff or raise. I proceeded to get silently drunk, while he chugged tonic water and GOT CUT OFF. It was hysterical watching this floor manager get all huffy and tell him he had to take a break from drinking, when really, the drunk one was sitting behind the table. I also enjoy trips to tournaments, which entitle me to a comfy bed in which to sleep, unlimited television while he plays and fancy dinners out. Unfortunately, it also comes with midnight phone calls that he’s made the final table and I should come watch and sketchy characters who hang out in Reno, NV.
One of the cuter habits (in my own humble opinion) I’ve picked up on is poker lingo. It’s not unusual for me to walk in on Andrew shouting at the computer things like “HOLD ONE TIME!” when he wants a flop or a turn or something to stay in his favor, or “GET THERE!” when he needs a better card, or my personal favorite, “GOGOGOGOGOGOGO” when cheering friends on in tournaments. I try to use these as often as possible in daily conversation. Need him to do something? GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO. Trying to get him to keep doing something? HOLD ONE TIME. For some reason, he finds this annoying. Also, when he is playing serious tournaments, I like to shout or IM him all of the poker lingo I know. It’s my own version of “good luck.”
While I never, ever envisioned myself in a relationship with a man who plays poker professionally, it’s been quite a ride, and it’s one of my goals to learn to play. And while I don’t love tournaments that last ’til 4 in the morning and sometimes being ignored in favor of Full Tilt, it’s definitely introduced me into a world I’d know NOTHING ABOUT if I hadn’t been with Andrew. And that my friends, is a royal flush. Or something good and pokery.