Headphones at the Poker Table

Throwdown Thursday: Headphones at the Poker Table

Headphones have become ubiquitous in our culture. Take a subway, and half the riders are plugged in. Walk down a city street, and cords are flapping in the breeze. Even attend a high school music performance, and you’ll see younger sibs with headphones firmly implanted in ears. (Although that final choice may reveal precocious wisdom). Headphone use at the poker table has become part of an archetype of a specific kind of player. We’ll label this breed “poker headphones”. Most, but not all poker headphones players are under 30 and wear them throughout their sessions along with sunglasses and a hoodie or ballcap.

Can these players not be alone with their thoughts? Must they desperately block out the comments of other players in order to think? Do poker headphones help or hurt focus? Debates have raged about the etiquette of headphones at the poker table and whether their use is beneficial. Norman Chad, the great poker commentator and wit, comes down firmly against poker headphones, throwing them into the same category as hoodies and sunglasses. However, many top pros like Phil Hellmuth and Phil Ivey, frequently wear headphones at the poker table.

In today’s Throwdown, we take on the poker headphones phenomenon. We have played tournaments both with and without headphones. Which is better?

Paul: I generally like poker players, but sometimes hate what comes out of people’s mouths. Short friendly interchanges allow me to think the best of everyone. Too much exposure to others’ insights makes me want to take up crocheting. Enjoying my poker session is as important to me as winning. Listening to Elvis Costello assures that I will enjoy my day, however the game plays out. Listening to a poker genius telling everyone else how they are misplaying hands assures I won’t.

Heather: Ah, the “I hate humanity” argument. Fair enough. However, I find that I get a lot of information from listening to others at the table. Not only through direct communications, but also from side banter with the dealer and with each other. I lose those insights about other players’ habits and their games if I am tuning out to the music of Hamilton.

 

Read More

Throwdown Thursday: Long Flight to Australia

Throwdown Thursday: Can She Handle the Long Flight to Australia?

Paul and I both would really love to visit Australia some day. We would love to tour wineries in the Shiraz valley, snorkel the Great Barrier reef, get up close to a kangaroo or a koala, and visit the vast Australian Outback. And, of course, we would love to play poker in some of Australia’s best poker rooms. If we ever manage this trip, we would probably wrap in a visit to New Zealand along the way. Unfortunately, I do not handle a long flight well. I feel a panic attack coming on at the mere idea of being stuck in a coach class seat for the 23 hours it would take to fly from Boston to Sydney.

Paul: One word….medication. OK, two words…heavy medication. This is why Xanax was given to human kind by the lab gods. You’ll be fine and likely remember very little.

Heather: You know that’s not going to happen. It’s not like I can’t fly normal distances. I’m not flight phobic.  It’s just that the idea of being trapped in a metal box for a 23 hour long flight makes my skin crawl. I mean, can you imagine THE BOREDOM?

Read More

DIY Project Debate

Throwdown Thursday: DIY Projects or Call a Professional?

Paul and I try our hardest to be frugal. We do everything we can to save money on groceries, we bought a smaller car to save on gas, and we even created our dream wedding on a tight budget. One area in which we have some difficulty, however, is agreeing whether to take on DIY projects around the home or to call in an expert. Paul always votes for DIY. Whether it’s fixing the toilet or trying to replace the alternator on his car. He wants to do it himself. I am a bit more cautious. I remember the time he tried to glue his car mirror back on the car after it got knocked off. And the time when we tried to replace a light socket and ended up calling the electrician anyway. Paul remembers only the wins. He has blissful amnesia about the DIY project fails.

Paul: What’s the opposite of “blissful amnesia”? Because you’ve got it in spades. Not every fix is going to work, sure. But there have been plenty of successful shower and toilet repairs, and some car tweaks that have worked out just fine.  Each DIY project success leads to money saved. As long as we do no harm, we’ve lost nothing but time. Ok, maybe an occasional part or two. But the professionals can always come in and mop up the fails.

Read More

Throwdown Thursday: Are We Made for RV Living?

Throwdown Thursday: Are We Made for RV Living?

Paul and I have been reading a lot of articles about RV living. I’m intrigued by the idea of making our poker pilgrimage in an RV. The thought of being able to bring my house (albeit a very slimmed down house) along on our travels like a very ambitious turtle appeals to the part of me that hates to leave the couch. Paul, however, is pretty sure that this particular journey would end in homicide.

Heather: Don’t you think it would be nice to sleep in the same bed every night, no matter where we wake up? And to have our own little stocked pantry that we take along with us? No need to rely on hotel food or an AirBnB kitchen to have the right sharp knife?

Paul: Listen, if we have to share the same 300 square feet for 12 months, all the knives will be kept very dull. We get edgy and claustrophobic in our 3 bedroom, 1,200 square foot apartment now. What are we going to be like when our couch and kitchen table are one entity?

Read More

Throwdown Thursday: Cutting the Cord

Throwdown Thursday: Cutting the Cord (Or Not)

This week, Paul and I would like to introduce a new feature to Poker Pilgrims. Throwdown Thursday will be a place where we debate ideas related to our poker pilgrimage. We will discuss ways to save money, side hustle ideas, places to visit on our journey (or not), and pretty much anything else that strikes our fancy and engenders a good argument. This week we consider the idea of cutting the cord and getting rid of cable for the thousandth time.

Paul and I look in horror upon our monthly cable bill. Both children of the 70s, we remember the day when television was free (unless you count the labor costs of physically turning the channel knob and constantly rearranging the antennae). We keep trying to get that bill down, but over time it pops back up again. We regularly contemplate just cutting the cable and living a better life. A life of the mind (cue bluebirds fluttering above the couch).

Only we like TV. We really like TV. We love and worship TV like the pagan god it is. To the extent that we have to put hourly limits on ourselves, as if we were thirteen year olds who would watch 24-7 if given the chance (yes). While we have scaled back from having all the channels, we still co-dependently cling to HBO and Showtime. We’ve pondered at least dropping the premium channels, but then we remember that no Showtime means no Billions, and no Shameless. And no HBO means no Last Week Tonight, and no access to The Wire which we are finally watching about 15 years late. We say to each other “we could just wait until these things get to Netflix.” And then we laugh and laugh.

 

Throwdown Thursday: Cutting the Cord

 

Paul’s oldest is heading off to college in the fall, causing us to re-examine every item on the budget, and we are once again considering just how much we need our cable TV. Perhaps it is time for us to consider finally cutting the cord. Paul is advocating walking away from the madness. I, however, am having anticipatory withdrawal (is that a thing?), and am resisting what I know to be the voice of reason.

Paul: Frugality and addiction are meeting on the battlefield for me, and frugality is currently winning the day. We are looking to save pennies everywhere we can for the poker trip. And Penelope* is about to head off for college. Paying over $200 a month for television is just absurd. Something has to give, and I’m ready to go all Che Guevara on Verizon.

Heather: I have to admit, I see your point. But SuperstoreJeopardy! You would have to give up watching the Celtics’ rebirth. And I would have to release my hold on my beloved, long beleaguered Redskins. I just don’t know if I can do it!

Paul: Sure there’d be losses, but we don’t watch a lot of network TV anyway. And once we finish The Wire, we will have binge watched pretty much every desirable series. We only follow a few shows now and some of those are on Netflix, like Peaky Blinders and Stranger Things. But we need some limits. Left to our own devices we’ll watch anything: see Norwegian thriller about cops and ancient demons and that German one with the depressed time travelling children.

Heather: Hey – I liked those German kids zipping through the wormhole and fathering themselves. Deep stuff!

We look in horror upon our monthly cable billClick To Tweet

Paul: Enough said.  We can just be patient and wait for things to make their way to Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Believe me, I am shocked that this latchkey adult is advocating such a path, because it means I may have to consider reading on a regular basis.

Nothing scares me more.

Heather: Patient? When has either of us EVER been patient about anything? Max’s* grades come out in 28 minutes and I swear the clock is ticking backward like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (which I would no longer be able to find deep in cable-land if you cut me off).

I think I’m starting to develop an eye twitch.

Paul:  There’s likely a 12-step program for that. Hopefully after a couple of years, the phantom remote control clicking would subside. No doubt there would be initial pain, but we could focus on things like say…oh I don’t know…writing better blog posts. Oh, and there is always the potential for improved parenting skills and more quality time with our kids. I just threw that last one in for a good laugh.

Heather: I’m going to have to ponder this one. You make excellent points, but I think I feel a panic attack setting in at the idea of cutting the cord. I’m going to go watch old episodes of Battlestar Galactica until I feel better.

*Names of children have been changed to protect against future intrafamily litigation.

Next Up: To RV or not to RV: That is the Throwdown.

Throwdown Thursday: Cutting the Cord
 

 

 

 

 

 

Like this post? Head on over to the sidebar and subscribe. We’ll let you know whenever a new Poker Pilgrims blog post goes live!