Heather and I spent our New Year’s vacation dodging frostbite in Montreal and retreating for warmth to the poker room of Casino de Montreal. We played three tournaments over four days (the fourth was spent at the Playground Poker Club outside the city). This was our third poker jaunt to Montreal. The last was so profitable that we were itching to return. Let’s just say that the results this time were not as positive. I’ll try my best to divorce that fact from this review of the Casino de Montreal’s poker offerings.
We’re pretty new to this side hustle thing. We started our first side hustles only 18 months ago. Around then I also started listening to Nick Loper’s amazing Side Hustle Show podcast. The idea of a side hustle caught my imagination. Along with saving money, I saw side hustles as a way to make money that we could send directly to our Poker Pilgrimage budget.
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For context, our Main Hustle is not exactly a traditional office job. We are both freelancers in the area of research consulting and data science. We are lucky enough to have the freedom to work where we want, when we want, for a decent rate of pay. However, a couple years ago we were looking for ways to start building savings for our Poker Pilgrimage.
Poker is not an inherently noble pursuit. It does not necessarily offer poignant moments of introspection or life lessons. On the surface, poker is a simple game played with 52 cards. To play it well against good competition requires an array of skills, but you don’t have to be a Field medal mathematician to succeed. When played in a casino or card room, the strong take money from the weak. No one gets Gandhi points for sitting down to a poker game. So what, if any, lessons, can be taken from this odd and seemingly selfish pursuit?
Lesson 1. Patience Pays
Patience is frankly not my strength. I like immediate results and hate waiting in lines. But if you play poker without a good dose of patience you’ll make some very bad decisions. Let’s just say I am a work in progress on this dimension, even at the poker table. However, at least I try to remember when I am in traffic, eighth in line at the one open register at KMart, or waiting to hear back about whether my new health insurance check has cleared that I should not respectively: lay on the horn, say loudly “what’s wrong with this place,” or threaten a lawsuit. Impatience leads to hasty and generally bad decisions. If things are not going your way, bide your time. Don’t self-destruct, and likely the tide will turn.
This time of year we are always looking for a quick post-holiday get away to celebrate the fact that we’ve made it through another festive season alive. Between holiday preparations for our four kids, end of the year work demands, and celebration with our respective families, by the end of December we really need a vacation. We are fortunate enough most years to fit in a brief three or four day getaway before the new year rolls around.
We have three requirements for our December destinations. They must: 1) lie within a short drive of our home in the Boston area, 2) sport plenty of winter scenery, and 3) be in the general vicinity of at least one poker venue (of course). For example, later this month we will be heading up to Montreal (and will supply a full report after that trip!).
* NOTE: Seabrook poker room has been sold and will fall under new management in February 2019. Rumors have abounded as to the coming changes. We look forward to returning this year and updating our review *
New Hampshire, for such a small state, boasts a remarkable number of bustling poker rooms. While it does not have a single large casino, there are multiple vibrant charity card rooms. Poker is the primary focus of these rooms, although each has a few table games as well. Even more striking: two of the largest poker rooms in New Hampshire are a mere two miles from one another! I have reviewed the Hampton Falls room already, now I’ll take on its bookend, the Seabrook Poker Room.
Our Life as Seabrook Poker Room Regulars
Seabrook poker room was our go-to poker room for about 3 years. Mostly because it has a weekend tournament that fit our schedule and budget. The $50 tournament starts at 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For such a cheap buy-in, 20 minute blinds with a starting stack of 15,000 chips is a bargain. Or, at least it seemed so. The 4:00 tournaments generally last about 6 hours, although they devolve quickly at the end to shove fests resulting in multi-way chops. But what could you expect for $50?!