The life of the amateur gambler

I won’t go into the few things in my life that increase my heart rate. If something is good enough to put an extra 15 beats per minute on the old ticker, I figure it’s sacred enough to keep to myself.

However, with that in mind, I will blog-defile the one secret vice that gets me going: The Game of Chance.

I can’t enter a game of poker, blackjack, or pai gow without that fantastically familiar feeling of barely-contained euphoria. It generally subsides after a few hands, but it is there nonetheless. The same goes for just about any kind of competition for money. It’s not that I like the money that much. I like the fear of losing it and the reward of relief when I do not. Call me a masochist.

Since I live in a state where it’s illegal to gamble unless we’re sending our losses to the state, I have to find ways to get my fix. My monthly poker game petered out. Internet gambling doesn’t appeal to me. Embarassingly, I score with auctions and eBay. It’s prospecting with the possiblity of loss and the reward of relief. I’m a sicko.

I believe I was probably born a gambler. I believe something inside me likes to take risks when I know the stakes. I don’t throw good money after bad. I know the score. I never lose more than I can afford.

Sometimes, though, my gambler’s instincts transfer into my regular life. I check-raise in arguments with my wife.

For those who don’t play…a check-raise is a cute little poker trick. Instead of betting, you defer to the next player. It’s a silent indication to non-professional that your hand is weak. Sensing your potential weekness, your opponent bets on a hand they maybe would’ve folded. They are surprised when you turn around and raise their bet. They now have money in a hand without powerful cards to back it. That’s when you go in for the kill and take their chips.

So, tonight I check-raised my wife in the middle of an argument. It wasn’t intentional. I’ve been watching a lot of poker on TV and jonesing for a good game.

Oddly, with most things in life I maintain a great deal of patience. I’ll fold ten weak hands in a row if I have to. However, sometimes before I know it, I just can’t hold back and I realize that I’m check-raising with an unsuited 2-7 in a game of Texas Hold Back.

That’s why I’m not a pro.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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