Confessions of a Gambling Mom: Risk and Reputation in an Uncertain World

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It’s been a while since my last post, and there are a few reasons for my blogging hiatus. One of them is that I have two young daughters ages 5 and 7 so much of my time is wrapped up in the demands of motherhood. I also have a “day job” (there’s also a reason for the quotes, I’ll explain in a moment!) and was flooded with work and clients to support. So there wasn’t enough free time recently for writing or pursuing my personal goal of crushing live poker cash games. But beyond these prosaic excuses for my lack of creativity, there lies another, deeper darker and secret reason . . . 

The third reason is Fear. Fear of transparency of my life. Fear of revealing what I’m doing, where I’m at physically and mentally, my goals, my thoughts, and my inner world. I realized the impact that blogging has on my online reputation and in the brick and mortar world. I realized that creating content that has value requires authenticity. This means that if I chose this path, I reveal myself to the world. And this terrifies me.

For years I kept this blog impersonal and wrote smoothie recipes and book reviews and articles on mindfulness. But it wasn’t enough, and on some level I knew that. Over the past couple years I felt more and more drawn to write some very personal posts, and that meant sharing my life publicly by blogging or via my Youtube Channel. And suddenly this has brought me to a whole new edge. How do I balance blogging with living my life as a private person? How does my online reputation and public image impact the people in my life that are close to me? Well it just so happens that poker is a great metaphor for many things in life, and there’s a poker concept called “table image” that applies quite well to my reputation conundrum. 

Table Image in Live Poker Games

In the world of live poker, table image is how a player is perceived in the game by the other players. A player can appear to be conservative, or perhaps aggressive, or wild, or clueless, etc . . . there’s a whole assortment of possible table images. A common misconception, however, is that a player has full control over their image and can choose how they are seen by the other players. But that’s not how table image works.

What’s much more true is that the table image develops as a result of the decisions a player makes. Table image is created by a combination of the choices a player makes (what they do, what they say, etc) and their reactions to everything that occurs (such as what cards they are dealt) and even how they look. 

Pursuing Mastery in High Stakes Poker

Much of what creates my table image in poker is not under my control. However, by observing the hands I play and my behavior in general, I can be aware of how I’m likely being perceived. I can then adapt and use my table image accordingly. Being aware of my reputation at the table is a powerful tool for staying one step ahead of the competition.

So let’s bring this back to blogging, online reputation, and public image. In poker, if I decide to play the game, I’m going to have a table image whether I like it or not. As above, so below. In life we have a table image. It’s our reputation, and it exists in the 3D world as well as online. This is especially true in the realm of social media and blogging. My decisions in life, and what I chose to share or post, impact my public image. 

One of the reasons the transparency of blogging stirred up so much fear for me is because of my “day job” (time to explain the quotes). I sell real estate. I’m supportive of my clients, I am dependable, responsive, and experienced. The quotations marks are because it’s not my life purpose but it pays my mortgage. What’s scary for me is that if I blog about playing poker it affects my professional image and reputation in the world of real estate. So I am now facing the impact of video blogging about poker on the actual thing that pays my bills right now, which is selling real estate.

This issue digs into the perception of poker by many people as a form of gambling. When I tell people I play poker, it’s amazing how often I hear “Oh, I didn’t know you were a gambler!” and my first response to that is, “I’m not. A federal court ruled poker to be a game of skill.” I then attempt to explain the technical nuances of poker and the math behind it, usually resulting in a blank gaze from the person who believes that all card games played in casinos are gambling. 

I also invest in real estate and have bought and sold many homes over the past decade. When I tell people this, they don’t raise eyebrows, and they don’t say “Oh, I didn’t know you were a gambler!” but buying property is actually playing much bigger stakes, risking huge sums of money on uncertain outcomes into an unknown future.  

So while my first instinct is to somehow protect my reputation and say I’m not a gambler, the truth is that I am. We all are. So much of life is a gamble, it is ridden with uncertainty, yet we make decisions every single day in the face of unknown outcomes. We are making bets all the time, we just don’t use this type of language to describe our decision process. Every time we buy something we are weighing up risk (money spent) and reward (perceived gain). We drive somewhere because we bet that we are likely to arrive safely. We even risk our hearts . . . we fall in love . . . we dare to have children. We are all gamblers. 

So I am a gambler. And a mother. How do I find time to raise my girls and work and sleep and somehow also play poker? Well. like most humans, I don’t work 7 days a week. I take days off and I spend them however I like. What’s unsettling is that if I’m publicly blogging or sharing stories on social media, and revealing how much I travel, people wonder how I’m keeping it all together. Do they also wonder if I’m dropping the ball somewhere?

I’m grateful and also fairly lucky because the father of my children is incredibly supportive of both our mutual and personal goals. We have a flexible schedule so that everything in our home and business is taken care of. He plays poker too so it all somehow works out and we both have plenty of time for ourselves. 

But I do confess that it feels fairly rogue to be both a mom with young children and a poker player. It’s not a common niche. I see many women get really mired in motherhood and forget to do something solely for themselves. Balancing parenting and self care is no easy feat, but there’s a risk of drowning in domesticity if you’re not careful. So I take days off from both work and motherhood, and it feels great to have my mind doing something other than resolving arguments over toys. But I do feel the haunting of some old paradigm, and sometimes I catch myself thinking that my kids are young, maybe I should be home baking cookies

Link to Recipe for Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies (Whole Grain & Vegan!)
Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies

The reality is I can’t do that. It’s not me. I love to feel inspired. I love to create. I love to learn. I love to challenge myself. Blogging, traveling, and playing poker helps me do all of that. So my plan for now is to continue with my blogging and poker journey, and to face my fears as they arise. To navigate how my personal life and work and everything I create will be perceived by people and inevitably judged. And that’s fine, count me in. I’ll play the game . . . I love to gamble.


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