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Fitting Poker into an Otherwise Busy Life

August 25th, 2015 by Ezra Beaton

Wait, what do you mean no Wi-Fi?

Poker as a Hobby

Let me get this straight for the record: I am not a poker professional. I am many things, but that is not one of them. Of course I have daydreams about running deep into a WSOP event, who among us doesn’t?

I am, however, very realistic about how remote the chances are that I could ever live that dream. I am a father of seven children and I stay at home to raise them, educate them, and hopefully prepare them for the unpredictable world of the future. Poker doesn’t really fit into that picture easily, except as a casual hobby.

So as a homeschooling father of seven, how is it even possible to have a hobby such as poker? To make it possible I have to first admit that poker in my life is pretty far down on my list of priorities. Once I settled myself into that idea, I was able to be realistic about how much time I could devote to the game.

Poker as a Parent of Young Children

With three year old twins being my youngest children, I really can’t sit down at an online poker table and expect to play any more than two hands per round, which would be insanely unprofitable even if I were a professional player.

The other children are all over the age of five, so they are into the realm of being able to occupy themselves when the inevitable time comes that I need some adult alone time. So that leads me to this conclusion: I can only have my own time for play when the twins are asleep.

They take one mid-day nap that usually lasts between one and two hours and they go to bed at eight o’clock, so those are my available times. Just because I have those times available free from toddler duty doesn’t necessarily mean they are automatically available for poker playing.

Our oldest, a twelve year old daughter, is very responsible and a terrific fit as oldest child. She is artistic, whereas, I have no innate ability in that area, so she will often teach an art class. As great as this is that she can take charge, it does not excuse me from supervisory duties.

Any parent can witness to the number of questions one child can come up with in a day’s time. So on most days, the mid-day toddler nap is still not available.

Poker as a Tired Person

This leads me to my solution: poker can only be played after all the children are in bed. Let that sink in a bit. I am awoken at six o’clock every morning by three year old twins yelling at the top of their lungs.

They aren’t misbehaving, that’s just the volume with which young children speak normally. After fourteen hours of parenting, bedtime arrives and we go through the bedtime rituals. All the children are now snug in their beds and will soon begin to chat with each other and go to the bathroom multiple times.

This is not quite the ideal time for poker, because every few minutes I will have to remind them that there is a time for play and a time for sleep. This is where I am willing to compromise, though, because one hour later, at nine o’clock, I begin to get tired.

Poker as a tired person is not ideal poker. So I play in the CardsChat freerolls that begin at eight, and hope that my first hour of conscious poker can propel me as deep as I can get before my fatigued decision-making processes fail me completely.

I hope you weren’t expecting a fairy-tale story of success at the tables. I’m a casual amateur hobbyist, and accepting the facts about that designation is paramount to my sanity. Is there anyone else out there who is willing to admit that they just don’t play as much as they might like to?

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19 Responses to “Fitting Poker into an Otherwise Busy Life”

  1. teepack Says:

    I’m with you Ezra! I have four kids ranging from 9th grade through third grade. Just trying to get an hour on the computer so I can play a sit-n-go is a chore. I can’t imagine trying that with 7 kids. Good luck to you.

  2. Scourrge Says:

    Great perspective on trying to balance everything – I think we don’t read enough about players who are just normal people and have to find the time for their hobby. Enjoyed the read, thanks!

  3. Flayst Says:

    Thank you, I appreciate the comments very much!

    Teepack – It’s nice to know that I’ve been playing with other parents. I’ve tried doing a sit-n-go during the afternoon nap, but even that seems too much. Anything I am going to get involved in during the day has to be something that I can drop at a moments notice.

    Scourrge – Us casual players don’t tend to be represented as well, and it can seem like we are in a world full of pros. When I first joined here I was concerned I wouldn’t have enough to talk about, after all I’m no pro and I don’t really feel like I have any poker advice to offer anyone – I’m the one that needs the advice and I can get plenty of it just by reading through other posts. In reality though there are a lot of casual players like us, lurking in the forums and playing the freerolls, we just tend to read more than we tend to write I guess.

  4. lukaszkrzi Says:

    There is always time for yourself if you organise yourself. I cant speak this out of my self since I badly organised but that’s how it is after lazy years at school and right now trying to be hardworking.

  5. Rijckenborg Says:

    I don’t have any children.
    I quit my work to take care of my girlfriend at home.
    She was hitted by a cerebrovascular accident and cannot be lonely at home…
    So I have all the times I want to play poker 🙂

  6. VGShaa Says:

    Wonderful story! Three children, I am delighted, it is not surprising that the game of poker you have no time. I myself am planning a wonderful child, and then, too, it will be difficult to devote more time. Children grow up and you can spend time completely because she want to. Good luck in everything!

  7. nabmom Says:

    From one “casual amateur hobbyist” to another, thank you for this blog post. My strategy has been to focus more on online cash games, since I can jump in and out of them much more easily that trying to play a tourney that will last for hours (if I’m lucky!).

    One additional point that I’d like to throw in to this reminder about needing to have balance in our lives is the good fortune if you have a partner who understands your passion. We also have to acknowledge that sometimes our spouses end up on the lowest rung of our priority totem pole after kids, work, and this “hobby” (which for me has also, at times, been an escape from the stresses of work and home).

    Remember that kids grow up fast and you can also teach them to play poker! It encourages math skills, interpersonal skills, and strategy. Plus getting to play with dad! Best of luck to you on the felt, and, more importantly, with being such a great dad and raising those active and energetic kids!

  8. freeringo Says:

    I have found that my best poker is played when I have no distractions. I try to minimize my other tasks while in a tourney. Just running to kitchen to grab a snack has cost me a hand several times because of the short timer. My children know not to bother dad during a game. I explain that I have to get in the zone with intense focus if I am to be successful tonight. Results speak for themselves over the years and now I can adjust my game when I am not in that zone. To note that online poker is a much different game that live games because of the simple fact of the timer. Online we are not afforded to time enough to really analyze each and every move like you can in live games. How many of you could be a winning chess player if you only had 20 seconds to make your move each time? Only the masters can do that!
    I have learned to not think in online poker and have developed a highly keen intuition and have learned to trust my first thought. I now am right about 75% of the time instead of 50% of the time when I used to analyze and second guess myself. The game is much more relaxing now too.

  9. fubarcdn Says:

    I can feel your pain as I was also a stay at home father way back in the 90’s before it was a somewhat common occupation for men. Somewhere when Mr. Mom the movie had just came out. So I was Mr. Mom to only 2 boys for about 20 years until they both moved out and took up online poker after they were both in school full time in the early 2000’s as a hobby to pass the time whereas my wife thought I should get a J_O_B.
    Find the time to relax and play as a hobby because it is a good hobby to have that doesn’t have to cost you any money.

  10. MTCashman Says:

    With 7 kids I am surprised you ever have time to play! Good to see you get some time to unwind though, you have a big enough family to have your own home games one day 🙂

  11. BentleyBoy Says:

    Great article! I think you would be surprised just how many parents play poker, I am one and I know of quite a few and we all struggle to find the time we really need to play serious poker, while balancing all the challenges and demands of parenthood…oh yes, and work!

    It’s not easy to find time to be the player that you dream of being. Maybe our focus should be more on studying poker first, before we find the time so that the time we are able to find is spent more productively, just like we would for any pass time or job we do.

    I think I must follow my own advice and spend more time studying poker than playing to really improve to where I would like to be.

    In the end, all parents should unite and help each other put in the true sense of community.

    Good luck.


  12. teepack Says:

    Ezra, do you have an IPAD? One thing I have found is that I can take my IPAD with me throughout the house so if I need to be upstairs ironing clothes or downstairs emptying the washing machine, I can just stick the IPAD on top of the machine and not miss a hand. I know Carbon has a good IPAD app.

  13. Cdub512 Says:

    Good blog post. I’m not a parent, but it’s still hard for me to fit in poker in my everyday life, based on priorities. I’m not a pro, have a full time job, and there are priorities in my life ahead of poker. Poker is a hobby, and even though I like playing mid stakes games, it’s a fun hobby. I also play freerolls on here and the CC league and special games. Why, to keep poker fun. I like the people I’ve met here, and this is a great community.

    I think for others, it’s harder to fit in poker, and for those who can fit it in a super busy life, props to all of you!

  14. jus7_play3r Says:

    To answer the first question, it starts every poker as a hobby, but with time everything changes, everyone who plays poker has already objectives:)

  15. Flayst Says:

    Such wonderful comments! Thank you!

    nabmom – Luckily my wife is very understanding. She was at home with the kids before she became an accountant and surpassed my earning ability. She knows what its like to really need something that can be done alone, by yourself, with noone else around, alone, did I mention alone? 🙂

    freeringo – I’m with you on that! First impressions are important, and intuition gets better with practice. Maybe when the kids are a bit older I will be able to tell them that I need to focus, but for now I am at peace with that not being possible.

    MTCashman – The home-game possibility had occured to me, but we play for peanuts, literally. xD

    BentleyBoy – I do read poker books more than I play. It’s something I can do in my chair while the kids are being kids.

    teepack – No Ipad – in fact, no wifi. The caption on the picture wasn’t a joke. xD

  16. woohoo sue Says:

    I am a grandmother now so my duty to family has diminished. I cant imagine how I would make my passion for this game fit into my schedule while raising my children although I did make time for weekly game(penny antes) with the girls which was more about our snack served that

    I agreee with most here that family duties to children have to take a high priority over all things and poker is no exception here.

    Good luck with your continuing delemma in this and well wishes for family happiness.

  17. tahoeden Says:

    Enjoyed your blog post very much. I have playing poker for over 50 years as a hobby and it is a great game. I play both live and on the internet and love Cardschat forum , Enjoy your life and the game of poker.

  18. Anatolii Stuzhnii Says:

    In WCOOP lot of moving, isn’t it???

  19. bee gees Says:

    Indeed, sometimes it is difficult to coordinate everything. I support the fact that everyone must have time for yourself. My daughter is a big and my responsibilities are far less. I always try to take the time for a real-life friends and socializing.

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