Monday, June 12, 2017

The poker wife

I married a treasure.

As much as I joke about her, I never lose sight of that. When I persuaded/tricked the world's least likely wife (who had rebuffed dozens of wannabe husbands before she unexpectedly agreed to marry me within weeks of meeting me) into marriage, I pulled off the coup of a lifetime. I got as a lifelong companion the funniest smartest most ferociously unique person I've ever known. I also got someone with a unique capacity to put up with and support my foibles eccentricities whims and mad notions.

In the run up to Vegas, her wonderful qualities came to the fore. I needed new clothes. Knowing my deep and abiding hatred for shopping, she went to the shop herself and got what I needed. The jacket wasn't right so she brought it back, and returned with two other candidates.

The wheels literally came off my bag on my return from Copenhagen. She went and got a new one. When I complimented her on how perfect it was, how easy it is to take my laptop out and put it back in, she said it took her a minute to choose and she was in and out of the shop in three minutes. I believe this as she is without a doubt the world's most efficient shopper, as David and Saron will testify. In Vienna recently she needed a new top. As we walked into the store, she announced she saw what she wanted. Before Saron even had time to start browsing, she had paid and we were leaving. I have traumatic childhood memories of following my mother from shop to shop for entire days only for us to traipse back to the first shop to buy something horrible, so there's no overstating how attractive her shopping efficiency is to me.

She has gradually turned my grinding room at home into the perfect place to grind. Once the desk and computers were set up, stuff gradually started appearing to improve my lot. A TV on the wall above the computer for when I'm down to my last few tables. A stereo to my left (I'm left handed). A coffee machine. A fridge with all of my favourite foods. Grapes and nuts (my snacks of choice) and cups of coffee appear as if by magic on my desk, and the dishes magically disappear as do the yogurt cartons and tubs of bustout ice cream.

Things are always a bit tense before my annual pilgrimage to Vegas for the WSOP. I'm at my narkiest, and also feeling guilty because I know how much she hates it when I'm away. So much that after a few weeks she can't take it any more and puts herself through the ordeal of Vegas. And it is an ordeal for her: she hates it like she hates no other place she's been, and probably more than any other person on the planet hates it. I hate being away from her as much as she hates me being away, but from a deep dark place in my psyche there's a demented insatiable desire to succeed at whatever I'm currently obsessed with. Her distress at my imminent departure manifests itself not in sniping or complaints but in manic restocking of my fridge. As I leave home it's filled with  yogurts ice cream and other treats that will have spoiled by the time I get home. This is one of the many things I still don't understand about her after three decades by her side. Is it denial? Is it a comfort to her after I'm gone? Or is it her way of reminding me that no matter how badly Vegas goes there will always be a fridge full of treats waiting for me at home?

Throughout my years as a fanatical Bowie fan, she followed me around the world from concert to concert. She hates crowds but she found herself in mosh pits. She found the fanatical fan type tough to be around but there she was. At least she grew to like the music.

Through my years as a journeyman turned international class runner, she followed me from race to race as my masseuse/coach/nutritionist/support staff. She hated travelling by now, not enjoying the experience of being herded around airports like cattle. But at least she enjoyed the races and the athletes. Her kind of people: self reliant, mutually supportive, healthy, uncomplaining, and even a little bit spiritual.

It's fair to say the poker phase of my life has been the toughest for her. She has no love for the game or most of the people it attracts. She hates the Get Rich quick it's all about EV mentality. She hates that the only real yardstick in poker is filthy dirty money, that the first question people ask when you win is "How much?" She understands it well enough to realise that winning a poker tournament is not really an achievement. Thankfully, she also understands it well enough to recognise that making a very good consistent living for a decade is a real achievement. When our bank manager expressed surprise at how much I make from poker she said in a rare expression of wifely pride "He's one of the best".

I know she hates all the attention whoring I do as part of my career. She's a hermit at heart, someone who likes her light hidden under a bushel. She never wanted to be dragged into this life, but she accepts it and supports me in every way she can. I think people sometimes think when I call her Mrs Doke that I'm being old fashioned or chauvinistic or patronising (and maybe I am unknowingly), that I'm reducing her to the wife of Doke, but I'm actually trying to put distance between the wonderful person she is in her own right and the character she is in my poker story.

The night before I left for Vegas, she packed all my bags with Alsatian efficiency as our shared sadness hung in the air. I told her that a few days after Vegas I'd be off again to Manchester for an MPN stop. She pointed out that if I made the final table of the main event I'd miss Manchester. Then she said something unusually poignant for someone so unsentimental.

"I hope you win the main event this year because then you could quit poker and we could spend more time together"

I married a treasure.


A touching piece Dara, she sounds lovely :) hope I get to meet her one day...

Great blog. Sounds like she is a real treasure. P.S Does she have any sister's

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