Another year has gone by. An year which can definitely be called as an illustrious one for Indian poker. From a dry run in tournament poker to some highly fruitful online grinds. If the first half of 2014 saw the waters turn still for poker, the second half surely was a overflowing stream. A stream that saw many young fishes(pun not intended) most of whom hold promise for the future. A few six figure online scores kept the poker community buzzing, so did a revival in the poker tournaments. All in all, it was a good year. An year that is now gone by.
Come January and we at OPN have something to cheer about. January always means we survived another year. We, the outliers(as we like to think), or the outsiders(as some might think) are 2 years old this week. 2 years is exactly how two of my babies are. The first one is surely the one you are looking at now while the second one is sleeping with a cold at home. Both of whom have required a lot of toil, money and love. And both of whom are reaping very good results now.
From juggling between the creche in the Pride Poker Room to playing beyond the wee hours with the baby on the lap to grinding out the tourneys on the mobile in between baby calls; poker and the baby have been well balanced. The Editor and the Mother have crossed paths and survived. But now is when the challenge starts. When the baby asks as I leave for work, ” Taash office, mama?” I stare, smirk and leave without answering. If I have no answer to this pertinent question then who will? If I after playing poker for 5 years now still hesitate when my kids ask about ‘taash’ then how am I to take forth this responsibility of running a poker editorial, leave alone play the game. If I cannot advocate this game I have come to love as a game of skill to my 4 and 2 year olds then who am I to try and tell the public at large. These 2 words by my toddler have brought me to face the larger picture of the responsibilities I have, as a poker mom and a poker editor.
As a poker editor, my responsibilities are clear. I have them chocked out clearly from Day 1- Promoting Poker in India, Promoting legal poker to seek regulation, Promoting the new talent in Indian poker and promoting Indianism over internationalism. A simple 4 point agenda. Which OPN and I have followed to the tee. Which now brings me to the core dilemma; my responsibilities as a poker mom. While I have tried never to discuss or refer to poker as ‘taash’ in the household but the kids have caught on. Since ‘taash’ as a word and activity is quite taboo in Indian culture, poker as a game requires quite a bit of explanation to everyone. But with experience, clarity has also followed. A belief has set in! The belief that this 5 card game is indeed a game of skills. Skills connected to calculation, skills to do with strategy, skills requiring decision making, skills testing your social quotient and stress management! And my failure to perform well at the top notch tournaments has re-instilled my belief. That merely money and luck cannot make me reach that coveted Final table. It is with great skill that those who grind the hours away manage to win the big money and write poker history.
And it is with this belief that I decided to sit my kids down this weekend and have them play their first game of poker. So they could learn their first skill that this game can teach. People skills! Not the simplest but perhaps the only one the kiddies could understand. And what fun it was. We had mastered a dozen type of poker faces with the 4 year old responsible for almost all of them. And 2 times I was caught bluffing. Well, I did simplify the game. Cut the chase short by eliminating the betting rounds. Something like an ‘Open Show Poker’. And after a hilarious 30 minutes, I had clicked many poker faces. I wish I could share them here. I felt the load was off my chest. The weight I was carrying around by not facing up to the queries was off. I had explained as best as I could to the kids what the game(remembering to refer to it as a game always) is. I hope they understand and spread the word as they grow up. In fact, I hope they grow up in a community where ‘taash’ is not taboo. Rather poker isn’t looked at as merely a play of cards but as a game of skills mastered over years by an intelligent and calculative mind.
Well, thanks for reading this personal note. Why so personal, you wonder? Well, its our 2nd birthday and we can’t keep calm.