Parenting, Poker, and Puke

It was midnight when my phone rang. I had just put in a live straddle and was leaned back in my chair waiting for the action to get to me. For those not familiar with the straddle, it is a blind bet you make in a poker game to induce more action and up the stakes a little bit. When putting this kind of bet in, it’s usually a good idea the stick around for a while. Otherwise, you’ve wasted the bet.

I looked at the caller ID. It read, “Home.”

It had only been a couple hours since my wife had told me to play without guilt, to have a good time, to not worry about her and the kid. It was the first guilt-free poker session I’d had in a long time. I was losing but still had several hours to get even and win some money for the night. Hence, the straddle bet. I’d been practicing on online casino gaming sites like bonusetu in my free time, so I had confidence that I’d be able to climb back up and get equal.

“Home,” it read.

Oh no.

I answered quickly. Before I could say much, the wife said, “I need you to come home now.” Apparently the kid was sick.

I looked down at my straddle bet and bid it goodbye. I was wearing my jacket and standing before the wife was done talking.

I calculated the time it would take me to get home. It would be about ten minutes.

“I’ll be home in–” I started.

“Now!” the wife said.

Rather than belabor the subject and let her know I was leaving NOW, I cashed out and headed for the house.


The surest way to test one’s immune system is to become a parent. I spent most of Saturday night serving as a human buffer between various comforters and my son’s projectile vomiting. Obviously, it wouldn’t be long before the germs worked their way in.

Despite what some people may have you believe, I have a pretty solid immune system. However, becoming a father has introduced me to entirely new strains of bugs and viruses to which I apparently have little to no immunity.

I will not describe the last 48 hours. It’s best left to your imagination, a place that–no matter how creative–could not possibly grasp how bad it’s actually been. How bad was it?

Well, I’ll put it this way. After being pulled away from the game prematurely on Saturday, I was looking forward to playing poker on Monday night. That particular game didn’t happen so I resorted to using a website called uk scratch cards whereby they have online games to play and be in with the chance of winning some extra money. However, we decided to rearrange for Tuesday night. I had grand plans. It would be drinks and appetizers with the boys at 5pm and to the card room by 7pm. The first round of ugliness started at 12:30pm. I told myself I would be fine. One little nap, I said, and I’d be ready to go.

By 4:30pm, my cell phone was ringing and I couldn’t get up to answer it. I moaned from my bed, “Just tell them I’m not going to make it.” I didn’t know if I meant I wasn’t going to make it to the game or that I just wasn’t…going…to…make it.


No amount of Gatorade, Gingerale, Pepto, or even water can fix this. Even now, almost 24 hours since I last thought I might be dying (or, in the alternative, that my wife had slipped me some hemlock), I am not sure I’m fit for public view. I managed to shower, take a conference call, and finish up some third quarter budgeting. Beyond that, I’m functioning just well enough to watch an interview with Wes Craven. I don’t usually gamble but as my nights keep being ruined, I feel like I’m owed a gambling evening. I might play a good girl bad girl slots game so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on any winnings and at least I can play this game from the comfort of my own bed. If I win that might make me feel a little better too. Heck – at this rate I might learn how to play mahjong so I can mix up the kinds of games I am playing.

Update: At the end of Craven interview, he talked about trying to break into the film business. He said…

“You have to believe in yourself. Usually, if you have a passion for something, it will happen. You have to be willing to take great risks and put everything else at stake. It’s like one big poker game. You have to put it all on the table.”

I can’t help but wonder whether Craven knew I’d be watching and writing about poker at the same time, or whether poker has become such a popular part of our culture that it was just inevitable that someone would mention poker while I was writing.

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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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