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Monday, January 26, 2009

Not this again...

Every New Year, I tend to fall back on my poker hobby as my primary source of compulsive, addictive fun. It's not that I like neglecting video games: poker just offers other perks and benefits (i.e. money). That being said, I'm going to try to find some sort of balance between video games and poker in my life. I've tried to do this many times before and, of course, things have never worked out. I'm a man of extremes, preferring to dive headlong into my endeavours rather than practice moderation in any way, shape, or form.

The simple fact is that both poker and video games represent significant time commitments in my life. To be a great poker player, one must study the game and play as much as possible. The downside to poker is the crippling frustration of wasting an entire evening playing poker with nothing to show for your efforts.

Video games are also a huge time sink - especially games of the role-playing variety. It's very hard for me to justify spending 60 hours playing games like Fallout 3 when I know that I can clear anywhere from $30 - $60 per hour playing poker. Then again, if I don't play video games, why do I need to earn money playing poker?

With an on-going public transit strike going on in my hometown (Ottawa, Canada), my resolve to play poker on a nightly basis is greatly diminished. Frankly, I'm just too damned tired at the end of the day to sit quietly and watch virtual cards fall on virtual felt. My biggest concern is that my current level of exhaustion will result in the loss of significiant sums of money. And so, I have a plan that may keep me sane and happy:

  • If I'm too tired to play poker, I'll play video games.
    Easier said than done but I'll see if I can stick to this. It can be hard to judge my level of fatigue - especially when I'm too tired to think straight.

  • If my current session of poker is not going well, I'll turn off my laptop and fire up my Xbox 360.
    I'm quite good at realizing that I'm not playing well when it comes to poker. I just need to get into the habit of firing up my 360 when things go sour at the poker tables instead of simply shutting everything down and sulking.

  • Follow up an evening of "losing" poker with a fun and stress-free evening of video games.
    I'm not one to chase losses at the poker tables. However, my losing tends to occur in streaks of three or four sessions at a time.  I have a problem admitting that I'm not playing my A-game and try to force my way through a stretch of bad poker by playing a lot of suboptimal poker. Following this last "rule" will be extremely difficult for me. I hate losing and constantly feel the need to reassert my dominance at the poker tables at my earliest possible convenience. Sometimes it's better to take a step back, read some poker books, watch an instructional video or two, and partake in an activity that can free my mind and uplift my soul.
As I've mentioned time and time again, I do love video games. I'm especially psyched about the future of video games in terms of story telling, cinematics, and emotional/psychological impact. My biggest problem with video games as a hobby is that I feel selfish taking part in a hobby that provides zero benefit to my family. Poker provides money that I use to help around the house. Video games, on the other hand, act only as a means of escape from the sometimes-demanding realities of life as father and husband.

On the other hand, perhaps there's something to be said about the mental well-being and happiness that result from playing my Xbox 360. If I'm happy and well-adjusted, there have got to be some intangible benefits to my family...right?

I'll see how things work out over the next few months of attempting to balance my two favourite hobbies. If I can somehow continue working towards meeting some of the poker goals that I've set for myself for 2009 while also managing to finish off a game or two every month, I'll be happy.

This post has been cross-posted at both Klopzi's Mediocre Poker and The Greedy Gamer.