Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Raise It … Damn, I Dropped a Stitch!

What do you do while you knit? Do you watch television? Listen to music? Or do you simply sit quietly, either with attention closely focused on a complex pattern or perhaps knitting repetitive stockinet stitch and allowing yourself to slip into a peaceful, thoughtless, almost meditative state?

I am going to admit something here that only my husband knows. Here it comes … Are you ready?

Oftentimes while I knit, I also play online poker.

Now, listen closely. I am not a trend-follower. I did not learn the game by watching the World Poker Tour on television. I am not part of the new wave of online players who think a hyper-aggressive strategy is the only way to go. I am also not a gambler when it comes to poker. I’ve been playing the game to some degree ever since I was a kid and began playing in cardrooms and casinos around fifteen years ago.

How I originally got involved in the game is a long story that I won’t go into here, but suffice it to say that before I ever sat down in a real game, I received quite a bit of one-on-one training, read all of the best poker books, received tips and advice from numerous pros, and spent countless hours discussing poker strategies, mathematics and probability, psychology and such with a host of people whose lives revolved around poker. So again I proclaim: I am not a trend-follower! It just happens that one of my favorite pastimes has suddenly become all the rage.

I converted from cardroom and casino poker to online poker about five years ago (still before the craze, mind you!). I don’t claim to be a great player, but I’m certainly what most players would call a “solid” player. I take the game seriously only in the sense that I’m competitive by nature and always try to do well at whatever I happen to do. Beyond that, I take it with a grain of salt. I don’t play high limits. I just play a bit to amuse myself. I certainly have no desire to risk a great deal of money or spend a great deal of time on poker.

I sit in my favorite recliner with my legs stretched out in front of me and my laptop resting not on my lap but on my thighs and down toward my knees, so that I have room in front of me to knit comfortably. Playing poker while I knit is perfect. Despite what the new breed of hyper-aggressive players may think, poker is in large part a game of patience. I am not by nature a patient person and so knitting while I play really helps stave off the boredom of folding a lot of hands and waiting for the right moment to make my move.

There. That’s my secret. This quiet, polite, middle-aged woman who loves nothing more than knitting and yarn and other calm and simple pursuits has an alter-ego in the online poker rooms and occasionally still in casino tournaments or ring-games. This seemingly quiet and gentle woman won’t hesitate to slow-play your ass when she flops the stone cold nuts, at times waiting all the way until the river to lower the hammer when you’re pot-committed. (Oops! I just stopped speaking English and started speaking pokerese, didn’t I? My apologies.)

If knitting while you play poker sounds fun to you, give it a whirl. It’s easy to get started. Pick a large, reputable poker site. There are plenty of them out there. Party Poker is my personal favorite. There are usually more than 50,000 players online at any time so the options of games, limits, tourneys, etc. is seemingly endless.

If you want to give it a try, you can get a $25 bonus with your first $50 deposit at Party Poker by typing in the bonus code: “wildcard” when you sign up. You have to play a certain number of hands before the $25 bonus is released to you, but it doesn’t take long to get there. There are lots of low limit games available. But beware … it’s rather addictive! And you may find yourself dropping a stitch from time to time when a hand you’re involved in becomes particularly riveting.

And whatever you do, be aware that poker is a very complicated game and luck is just one small part of it. There’s a saying in poker that may seem worn and hackneyed but is still very true: Poker is a game that takes minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. If you know nothing about the game, play at very low limits only with money you can not only afford to lose but also don’t mind losing. That way if you happen to win it will just be a nice surprise, and if you happen to lose you won’t suffer too much pain and will just consider it the price of an afternoon’s entertainment.

Happy Knitting (and card playing)!

1 comment:

anne said...

i read this the other day and was cracking up! i don't play poker, but i DO shoot pool. before my dad died a couple years ago, i used to go with him to his local poolroom and play on froday nights. lots of times, i would take my knitting, cuz of course, dad could whip my butt, and his turn took a lot longer than mine!
hahahaha! the other guys thought it was hilarious and were often curious about it.
now i have his pool table at my house, so i can knit and play whenever i want!