On Thanksgiving we had some people over for dinner. Well, there was a lot of beer and wine and one thing led to another and before any of us knew what was happening we were deep into a game of poker. The stakes were small, but the tension was big as our five-player tournament of Texas Hold ‘Em advanced. Our friend Werner was the first one out, embarrassingly beaten twice head-to-head by his wife, Isabella, who eschews statistics for emotion and gut feelings. Werner is an engineer by training, and he has spent much time and effort studying the math behind the game.
I was second to bite the dust, due to an irrational refusal to fold when I had crap in my hand. I hate folding because it is boring to be out while other people bet. Until I learn to control this impulsivity, I will not be a good poker player. Erica was third to bite the dust. The final two players were Erica’s dad and Isabella. I cannot remember who came out on top, but that is really secondary in this little post.
As we played, the three kids around the table showed a keen interest in the game. They were a high school freshman and two seventh graders, one of whom was my daughter, Isabel. They took turns dealing and asking questions about both the mechanics of the game and the strategies and psychologies behind the betting. By the end of the night it was clear that Isabel was hooked, without having ever played a hand.
A few days later Erica, Isabel, and I sat around the kitchen table and played a few hands for fun. Then we decided to buy in for $2.00 each and have a family tournament. As usual, I was out first because I insisted on staying in when I had nothing but a 6 and an 8 in the hole. Isabel held her own against Erica, taking her to 5 days before finally going bust.
The next day, Isabel wanted to start another $2.00 tournament, but she was feeling short of cash. She asked Erica for a loan, but Erica refused. She instead suggested that Isabel drum up some babysitting business in the neighborhood to get some cash. Isabel looked up from the table and said something like, “Wait a minute, mom. Do you hear what you are saying? You are telling me to go get work so I can gamble. Is that really what you want to be doing?” A proud parenting moment.
This comes to me this morning because I have just heard myself say to Isabel: “You can have a friend over this weekend if you want to, but I need you to know right now that, come Sunday afternoon, you will be with me at Buffalo Wild Wings while I watch the Redskins game.” In the course of one week we have told our 12-year old that she should get out and hustle up some money to fund her poker jones and that she MUST spend Sunday afternoon in a bar watching football.
My poor daughter—she doesn’t stand a chance.