The last time we spoke about it he was asking me to use my credit card (again) to restash, and I said no. He got angry, I stood my ground, and he never asked me for money to play again. That was a long time ago.
Yes, this is the genuine voice of the poker significant other at http://wivesofpoker.blogspot.com/ and an important read for those dedicated to understanding where poker fits into society. This “wivesofpoker” is another blog of primary importance (poor FlushDraw unsubscribed to OOP after reading about his blog here; such is humanity); this one, however, while unfortunately now silent, still breathes. It is, then, the real deal. (Another good test of that, among other things, is we quickly forget about its Blogger hobby-horse design.)
“Andrea” (if that is her name) begins thus:
Hello there, my name is Andrea and I’m a 30 year old copywriter working for a marketing agency. Me and my boyfriend have been together for almost 6 years and we moved in together like 2 and a half years ago. The reason why I decided to start this blog is he became a “professional” poker player 4 years ago and… it hasn’t been easy. We’ve had our good times, but mostly it’s been pretty bad.
We are now going through another rough period and I decided to search online, to see if I could find anyone who’s going through similar experiences. No luck. The only blogs I found were from 2009… so here I am. I will tell you my whole story – trust me, no picnic here – and am hoping to know more women out there who, although are successful and independent, are getting their lives shaken (or destroyed) by their boyfriend’s or husband’s dream of poker success.
I am also hoping to find success stories. Someone who can give hope to the rest of us, who do not wish to leave our companions, but simply cannot live like this anymore.
So from the start we know we are going to have a sympathetic yet unreliable narrator. She despises something in this process which is causing her suffering, but she can’t put her finger on what it is. Is her husband a professional? No, she puts the word in quotation marks: we know where this is going. Are marriages and relationships picnics? No, but somehow poker or her husband are at fault. Is she successful and independent, as she claims? Again, no, because if she was, she would not be having her life destroyed by a game or even by her boyfriend’s hobby. Independence, by definition, includes the ability to confront externalities which threaten the subject.
As the philosopher said, identity is a hall of mirrors, yet our Andrea is going to be holding her hands over her eyes for years: this first post promises profound unhappiness, and will ironically turn her into an unwitting gambler. She bargains with and bets on Josh in spite of herself, unable to tear herself away from the the action. The blog, we can see from the first posts, is going to be the story of the delusions of two people who have a compelling reason not leave each other, and how they manage their fantasies. Buckle up. The real nature of relationships is going to be exposed – even if we learn nothing about the silly game of poker.
Our relationship was very difficult in the beginning, he showed no respect for me whatsoever, he was selfish, violent and always angry at the world. We broke up 3 times in 6 years (I did, anyway). But somehow I always took him back and blamed his past, his complicated childhood with addicted parents, or his overprotective grandmother… and I always hoped he would change He did change, in many ways, thank god, but… moving on with the story.
Andrea suffers, as all of us do, from her logical deficiency. The beginning of a relationship is not six years, and implying paradoxically that she broke up with him while he did not break up with her, is the first delusion we come across. What her conscience is trying to say is that she is incapable of accepting the consequences of either of their natures. She stretches time to suit her dreams. Which, as it happens, is fine: most relationships are about accepting and forgiveness, not the power of creative destruction that is allied with accountability.
My relationship with Josh had many problems and money wasn’t, by then, the biggest of them. Although I supported him, respected him and even pampered him with gifts from time to time (like buying him an expensive watch for his birthday and not getting a single birthday gift in return when I turned 25), I felt like he didn’t love me back. After a few years I realised he did love me, but his poor behaviour as a boyfriend was the best he could do for anyone.
Only a few paragraphs into a blog of many years length, a basic problem is laid bare. Couples must respect each other in order to survive the often painful intimacy of cohabitation. Josh’s problem is that he isn’t particularly worthy of respect; Andrea’s is that she can’t be honest about not respecting him; it is not even necessary to read between the lines to realize this, her blog is so full of demeaning and belittling remarks about her partner the poker player. Yet like many of them, she too is addicted to fantasy.
A few days after my birthday, he cheated on me. I couldn’t bring myself to break it off by then, because I was finishing my Master’s Degree and breaking up would ruin it for me, I just wasn’t enough emotionally stable to do it. So a few months went by, I finished my thesis and we broke up because of how he reacted to it: pure indifference. He didn’t congratulate me, didn’t care for how good my grades were (and they were good) and he basically ressented me for being successful.
Interesting stuff. Josh is not her father, Andrea is not eleven years old, but what she wants is the approval of a man who holds her in contempt and she has contempt for. She claims to love him, but he does not support her or take care of her or even pathetically worship her. Andrea is in another world where Josh is not her partner: he is her codependent, yet she imagines she is his.
Second of all, Josh’s house was a mess – his constant rampages caused him to break things around the house whenever he lost, and he also wasn’t exactly a tidy person. I’m talking about kicked in doors, several desks broken in half, and tons of dishes laying around in the sink every week waiting for the cleaning lady (payed by his grandmother) to arrive.
And finally, because his house always creeped me out. His parents died under tragic circumstances and I never felt comfortable around the house. I’m not saying it’s haunted, but… I’m not saying it isn’t. I don’t know, I guess I’m a little paranoid, but the idea of living there just didn’t feel right.
The choice between living in a nice new house or Josh’s old one was not a choice at all, but was indicative of where Josh and Andrea were at: one in the past, one in her head. The mystery of Josh’s charisma is the key variable now, and likely until the end: he is the wounded child the wholesome mother figure thinks she can heal and bring into the light.
This, along with the fact that he didn’t help around the house and didn’t treat me right, became unacceptable for me and it all went down in flames when I found out he had been cheating… again.
Of course he cheated, probably not as often as he wished: what people want is someone on exactly their level, because only then are they truly seen as existing. There is no rescuing anyone in this world: there is only meeting them at the level they are on.
I totally lost it. He had gone out for a run, so I went after him and had a huge fight on the street, I insulted him, spat on him and tried to beat him (I had already done that when I was suspicious of these “friends”). It was a very low moment for me… and for him.
For those who suffer, it is not the heights which are likely to enlighten them, but the lows. Here, at last, Andrea is seeing things clearly: both are at bottom, both share responsibility for this nightmare and seem to know it. The question is, can they help each other?
Thank you for reading, I understand this part of the story is a bit “soap-opera-like”, but it all comes down to the same problem: if he wasn’t playing poker, if he had a regular job and money coming in every month (even if it wasn’t much), we wouldn’t have lived this nightmare.
The answer, tragically, and so emphatic that it comes in the same post, is a thundering NO. The delusion that Josh’s severe trauma would disappear, that he would stop seeking the love of new relationships (because all new loves are untainted by the past and thus seen as a rebirth) or new activities by replacing poker is the fallacy. Andrea has looked into the mirror and somehow found someone else in her field of vision to blame. From here on out, I predict this becomes very uncomfortable.
And no surprises so far. Andrea loses weight and worries. Josh is outcast by his family. Neither of them get want they need, but like all of us, exactly what we deserve. They come back together because they never addressed what attracted them in the first place. Relationships are filled with furniture rearrangements while life whizzes by.
Poker, of course, is just one of many things that might occupy your time on God’s green earth; you might as well blame Him, if that is what you are into. Plus, maybe He’ll help you… and we get there pretty fast.
I will not lend him another dime in my life, so help me God.
No one sane would.
Yeah, after the whole soccer thing went to hell (because of the “female friend” and also because one of the guys from the group slept with another one’s girl – a really nice croud as you can see), he started pumping iron at the gym. His body looks great, that’s for sure, and maybe that’s why I still love him after all of this, because all my exs were fat and ugly as shit. But he spends lots of money on supplements like whey protein and whatnot… fortunatelly no steroids – he has considered it, but it’s just too dangerous.. and too expensive.
Remember what I said about charisma? Every woman loves what some call the “Jerkboy,” no matter how much she denies it in the effort to conform socially and to her conscience. Josh is a parasite but Andrea can’t ever get enough of him and his selfish drama, because drama creates gravity and we, less committed to our own needs because we love our own imagination, are its orbiting objects. She’s in thrall and looking for sympathy, calling out for Poker Wives when she isn’t even married, a mother, or tied down to her object of passion. Yet sympathy, as I wrote before, is inferior to empathy and as with all true things, is rarely advertised for, as it is not a transaction.
Andrea writes in a comment section:
Hahaha yeah he is good in the sack, I’ll give you that.
The pride of and interior need for being sexually satisfied exceeds or matches an overwhelming number of socially acceptable laments. We, like Andrea, often want everything, and this hubris is what often explains our attachments to what is hurting us.
But I kept my ground, I had to… or else we would live this lie forever
The resort to cliche often reveals the depths of our inertia, as our inaction debases even our thinking. What ground was she keeping? She was surrendering her life to garage weight lifting, Pokerstars microgrinding, amateur soccer league love affairs, and whey protein. What was the lie? Josh was making his need to remain in childhood exasperatingly clear… the only lie was that a game she didn’t play was destroying her life. Would she be strong enough to expel the parasite or would she continue to excuse him on account of an outside force?
Meanwhile, a concern troll among her growing comment section is developing a relationship with Andrea, repeating himself in variations on this theme:
i dont think yr crazy. u just fell in love with the wrong dude is all. now dump the zero and find yr hero,girl. also, in the future, just bcuz some1 spends alot of time playing poker doesnt make that person a PRO. poker is a game
All advice is biased. Without knowing it, this poster looks like he will become the Poker Wife she is hoping to establish solidarity with. This fellow has a strong if two dimensional point, simplifying Josh into the problem while presenting a solution which is valid. He displaces her responsibility in order to present possibility to her, even if it is merely out of social habit. His white knighting for the deluded and distressed damsel, however, will never end the way he imagines it, because she has free will, as well. She is an exhibitionist, a performer, and he is the audience: she is gaining something here that is hard to quantify. What is it?
Andrea’s quandary soon spills across the pokerwebs, bringing her problems to new blogs– as well as her followers. The tragic clown TBC, sniffing blood like a toothless pathos shark, arrives to promote his problems:
i wonder if shes ever seen my blog although im sure im a lot better at poker than the man u are referring to. remember poker isnt where i lost my money, it was on other things. thats why everyone is so confused, they are thinking just because im broke i must not be good and yet me being so broke now has nothing to do with poker at all.
After looking at the possibilities and finding every way to evade a sane resolution, we finally hear from Andrea the plaintive voice of a more honest suffering:
I feel so alone in this situation.
Now we are getting somewhere. Her partner is not a partner at all. He has abandoned her while also weighing upon her; how he does it was never important, and the “poker wives” she seeks to share in obfuscation cannot help her. Take away the poker and Josh will fill naturally the void of his pain with something else; indeed, he has already shown a proclivity for all kinds of actual betrayals, nevermind a quantifiable one which keeps him at home and under her eye.
Poker is a strange thing, and as Abe Limon correctly explained, “there is no there there.” Just as it is a vehicle of success for some, for Andrea, it is the monster in the Rorschach and for Josh, the return to a better time where his responsibilities were easily quantifiable. Check, bet, call in place of suffer, adapt, grow.
This is often a great blog. Andrea’s belittling of Josh is often hard to accept and keeps her from true vulnerability and emotional clarity, at least as far as I have read. Nevertheless, from Andrea’s description of the conflict we get to see her life as a girlfriend, writer, woman… human. If we can read between the lines, there is much to be gained here from her endeavor to project her frustrations. I intend to finish all of it.
Posting Frequency: Finished
Writing quality: Confessional
Overall rating: AQs