I dream more about poker now than I think about it. Stress dreams it seems, always manifesting in a poker room or situation where I’m late and need to be pushing the lineup or the cards are cut weird or stuck together, or the tables are 20 feet long or some such nonsense.
In thinking about what sends a person like me to the tables day after day, I can easily see all the reasons that it kept me locked into the game – in any manner, whether it was dealing it, playing it, or talking about it.
More than once when I knew someone came to the tables with very little experience – possibly winning or losing the first few times – when they kept coming back, I thought they had the same draw to the game that I did. I found out over a period of time that many of them did not.
I have posted some of my background in Tango and I believe it is part of my total, degenerate, need a poker table fix that threw me into the game like a lemming heading for the ocean.
My thoughts on the reasons it was my focus for so many years:
I grew up (but never understood growing up or maturity until a much later age in life) in a family with seven siblings, an errant father that stopped by now and then as we moved from state to state to follow whatever it was my mother believed she saw in him. Mom was a very devout, hardworking parent that believed in family and taking care of us. She struggled to feed us, there was never any money and we were a bag of rag tag gypsies moving from town to town.
I remember being hungry. Almost all the time. Many times our food was portioned out, not always, but my memories are still of being hungry. Being frightened was part of it. And always having chores and helping with the younger kids. And always fearing punishment and disappointment from Mom – I got my butt beat more than once! And the competition of surviving arguments and fights with the brothers and sisters. It was like being in grave waiting for the dirt to start being shoveled in.
I know each person’s perception is their reality. I’m sure my siblings didn’t share the same thoughts I did on most of it. Everyone has their own stories about ‘how hard life was’ when they were growing up, right?
When I left home, I really wasn’t even able to take care of myself. I did manage a few odd jobs and then married a guy from my high school class as an escape hatch. I had a baby. No clue on raising a child either. Got a divorce. Got married again. Husband died. Had his son. Got married again, had a son with him. That marriage made it around seven years before it hit the rocks.
I gave my oldest brother a kidney. He died about six years later.
Other things happened. My mom died. My two youngest brothers came to live with us for about a year. Just after they moved out, one of them was killed at work. One of my husband’s brothers was killed in a motorcycle accident.
Our house burned. Thankfully no one was hurt in that disaster.
The above list is just the high spots. Something was always going on and it was never good. I don’t remember laughing or just enjoying a sunrise or believing that times would ever get easier — and we were always flat-assed busted…never a spare dime anywhere.
Despair? Heartache? Pain? The undercurrent was always there but somehow most emotions were suppressed because there was no way to deal with the flood. Maybe it was depression, but numb is as close as I can get to explaining how one nightmare day led to the next.
By the time my third marriage had started to fall apart, I hit Missoula MT and became a bartender at the Oxford looking for a poker dealing job. As stated in old Tango posts, I had no idea how the game of poker was played but I heard from my sis (who played now and then) that dealers got tips and made good money. I didn’t know what good money was back in the day but I knew it sounded like the answer to a dream.