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How I Became a Poker Player
There's a tradition on the 2+2 forums that when a poster reaches a certain milestone in his post count, he recounts some tale of how he got to where he is now. This was my 'Carpal Tunnel' post on 2+2.
The Early Years Learning the rules of poker is actually one of my clearest early memories, and I have no idea why, because I donӴ think I was especially interested at the time, and I know I promptly forgot them. But I distinctly recall sitting on the hardwood floor of a Baltimore row house as my aunt showed me how to play seven card stud, explained what hand beats what, etc. I was about six years old at the time.
A few years later, I started playing penny ante games with my grandparents. Gambling has always been popular in my fatherӳ family. His uncle, a 450-pound cross-dressing homosexual stand-up comedian, was a real character, one who deserves his own story really, but among other things he loved gambling. He took me to the dog track when I was five years old and placed my bets for me. Uncle Tubby had a heart as big as his stomach and was always extraordinarily generous with his winnings, sending my grandparents on vacation or buying me gifts whenever he won big at the track, but he would argue like hell if he thought he was getting cheated at penny ante poker. Dad was the big winner in those days, but my grandmother saw to it that I always came out ahead at the end of the night. Hell of a lesson to teach a kid about gambling, if you think about it. According to my father, he grew up too poor to get any kind of allowance, but his mother gave him a quarter every week to pay his tuition at St. Josephӳ High School, which he used to win spending money at lunchtime poker games. Then again, next to the fish pond, the poker table is probably the place where a fatherӳ exploits grow largest when recounted to his first-born son, so take that with a grain of salt.
In high school, some friends and I started a regular poker night, and that was the first time I really began to think about the game. It was dealerӳ choice with a nickel ante (occasionally bumped to a dime if the dealer was stuck), and every game was played no limit. It didnӴ much matter how you did in the game, because most sessions ended with a round of suicide sevens that was guaranteed to reverse everyoneӳ fortunes. But I played for pride and wanted to win, so I bought Ken Warrenӳ ԗinnerӳ Guide to Texas Hold ҅m.ԠI probably learned something from that book, though I donӴ really remember what.