Sit long enough around a poker table and you will hear players talk about their wives (or husbands), often as if they are away on some other planet.
If you have a ring on your finger, you know that it’s actually you who is on the other planet, the poker-playing planet that after marriage can seem increasingly difficult to visit.
Time passes differently on planet poker — you can get up from a session feeling like you just sat down, while hours have passed in the real world… where your wife is waiting for you to get home.
In honor of Red Chip co-founder James “SplitSuit” Sweeney going all-in at his wedding last weekend, here are 5 tips for playing poker while married:
The Ring Tell
Astute players will notice you’re married even before you sit down. Your ring will give it away. While your matrimonial status is surely a small aspect of your larger player profile, other players will be picking up on it. Adjust accordingly.
Conventional wisdom says that married people will play more conservatively and unmarried people, particularly older unmarried people, may play looser with more disposable income. If you’ve got a fancy, expensive ring, players will see you as more of a LAG.
Like all tells, meaning is not universal and the player must be observed closely for their specific tendencies. But it’s worth remembering your ring creates certain assumptions in other players.
Share Your Winnings
Bankroll management is important for any long-term winning poker player. But don’t be a life nit. When you enjoy a big win, there’s nothing like sharing it with your SO for short- and long-term relationship gains. Not only will they get to enjoy themselves on your poker dime, but their attitude toward the game may shift if they can share in its spoils with you. A nice dinner or new appliance is usually all it takes to say, “Look, Honey, it’s not just a game, it’s income!”
Don’t Bring Your Relationship to the Table
Relationship tilt can stack a great player in no time. Just like the other stressors in your life, it’s best to keep them away from the table. Ideally, you should deal with any conflicts as they arise and before you start your game. Never go to bed angry, as they say. Sitting down at the poker table while still tilted about relationship matters is the next worst idea.
Improve Your Poker & Marriage Games at the Same Time
Mental game in poker and mental game in marriage have a healthy overlap. If you can learn how to deal with tilt in a relationship, you can apply those techniques to the table.
Family budgeting and bankroll management go hand in hand. Getting a mortgage is like taking a shot at the next level up.
There are so many parallells between poker and marriage, it would be illogical not to work on them both at the same time.
One of the tried and true ways we learn how to be better at things is through integrated learning — or applying the same lesson in multiple contexts to give a better understanding. Find ways to make your SO happy, then use those same skills to punish your opponents.
Text Status Updates
Communication is key to a healthy relationship, and a good text to the significant other (SO) is good for another few hours at the table. Keep them posted on your plan — uncertainty can be a stressor for both parties involved. Don’t forget the emoticon… a well-timed smiley face can buy you another hour at the table!