Friday, January 05, 2007

Ace on the River

Today is a momentous occasion in Hammer Land, as Hammer Wife and I celebrate the fourth anniversary of our wedding, which went down early in 2003 in the middle of a furious sleet- and snow-storm that is typical of this time of year in a normal winter in New York City. Of course, instead this year we're basking in relative sauna-like conditions for early January in this part of the world, but every time another anniversary comes around, I always think back to the day when I first knew I was going to marry Hammer Wife, even after years and years of dating lots of different women without ever giving any serious thought to settling down with any of them.

My wife and I were introduced by a common friend when we lived in Boston in the late 90s. The friend thought to set us up because -- and if this isn't a good reason to get together than I don't know what is -- we both did not eat cheese (this is true). This was and always will be the only truly blind date I'd ever gone on, and we hit it off right from the getgo. Our first date was for Thai food at a nice place in the South End of Boston -- people from that part of the world never have been much for cheesy foods -- and the first time I had her to my crib in Cambridge, we watched a movie and shared a pizza with no cheese for dinner and some pancakes for breakfast the next morning. Fun times.

After a whirlwind first six months of romance, it became clear to me that I had to marry this woman. I remember the exact moment when I first had this realization, just like it was yesterday. A and I took a trip to New Orleans -- pre-Katrina, obviously -- which was the first time either of us had ever gone. As two young professionals with good jobs in Boston, we were young, we had some money in our pockets, and we hit the Big Easy hard. We saw everything there, experienced everything that one of America's great Southern cities had to offer, and partied it up big time all along the way.

At some point during our first night of debauchery and taking in all the glitz and craziness that is New Orleans, my wife saw a billboard on Bouron Street for a Harrah's casino right around the corner. We had had no idea there was gambling in New Orleans, but it was actually A who urged me to go bring her to check it out. I remember stumbling in there late that night, drunken mostly on frozen girl drinks of some kind or another, and deciding to introduce A to craps. I rolled up to the table, I bought in for $300 and starting playing the pass line and the come on every single roll, typical of my craps "system" back in the days when I used to play table games. Within maybe 20 minutes I was up $800. I decided to be the big shot and cashed out, opting to trick A into believing show A how profitable and yet level-headed I am about gambling, and we were off to explore the casino some more.

Later we would play some more craps, and we played some blackjack as well. Hammer Wife and I were playing two hands each at a table we had all to ourselves for quite a while, with me teaching her basic blackjack strategy while I silently counted the cards and made my own plays accordingly, to the tune of another nice profit over four or five shoes. We spun the big wheel together and took turns betting on the Joker with $5 chips to try to hit a nice score. Most of all, we played slots. A lot of slots. A's favorite was a machine called "Love to Win", where you were playing a slot machine on a fully-electronic machine that you "spun" by just touching a button on the screen. The cool thing about this machine was that whenever you got a certain pattern on the reels -- which happened fairly often btw -- you got to play a game where you go on a blind date with some random person of the opposite sex. You would push buttons to choose what to wear, what gift to bring for your date, and where to go, and then it would act out the actual date on the screen using animated images. At some point you would be asked whether or not to try kissing your date, etc. It would show you the whole date, and like any smartly-designed slot machine it was not set to have a truly successful date very often. We must have 2-machined that thing together for 2 or 3 hours that night before one of us finally made a love connection, and I remember how much fun we had waiting for the chance to go on another date, and trying our hardest to figure out the magic formula to get the goodnight kiss at the end.

At the end of one of the funnest nights I've ever had in my life, A and I went to leave the casino and head back to the hotel. On our way out, A insisted on us getting hot dogs from an old-fashioned vendor they had right inside the Harrah's there near the exit. We then sat on the steps outside the front door of Harrah's, eating our dogs as the sun was preparing to rise for another day in the east. I remember sitting back, looking at A, and just knowing right than and there that this was the only woman I'd ever met who worthy of the title of Hammer Wife. I resolved at that very moment to get her to marry me, and 18 months later, in January 2003, and we were in fact married, on the two-year anniversary of our first date.

Hammer Wife took a lot of chances with me along the way, chances I still can't really believe sometimes when I think about it. When we first met, as I look back on things now I know I was really kinda scarred from past relationships gone bad. Dating the wrong people at the wrong times in my life had left me very jaded, often expecting the worst and reading bad things into situations that were not actually intended to be bad. But A put up with it all. She loved me for who I was, even with my shortcomings. She recognized something in me, that I was worth fighting for and worth working with, and that the very things that made me hard to deal with sometimes were also many of the same things that make me uniquely who I am. After six months together, when I was presented with a great career opportunity that I had to take in New York, I told her how much I wish she would come with me, and to my ecstatic dismay, she did. Once again, A supported me in my decisions in my life, and that's right -- she packed up her stuff and moved down to New York with me just six months after we had met, with no engagement or promises made, just on a whim that I was the real deal.

Talk about a gambler.

And here we are today, on the fourth anniversary of our wedding, the sixth since our first date, and I look at how things can change and yet how they stay the same. As it turns out, that trip to Harrah's in New Orleans was probably one of the very last times A and I would ever step foot into a casino together. As you know, A is really not into gambling, and I haven't played a table game myself of any kind for a good four or five years at this point (and I don't miss 'em either). As I've written here many times before, A has watched this whole online poker thing explode with me with much trepidation, from something my college buddy bugged me to get into for several months to no avail, to something I was just checking out, to something I was just playing one weekly tournament in, to now something I play many nights every week. She has never loved the whole online poker thing, and at first I'm sure she figured I would just lose some money and move on to something else. But, just like always, even with the poker which she is really not into, A has always been supportive of me, of my abilities, and of the decisions I make in my life. Hammer Wife truly deserves so much of the credit for my success, at least as much as I do, and that goes not only for my success at the game of online poker, but also my success in the game of life. Without A, I don't know where I would be, I'm sure I would not be married, and I certainly would never have these two beautiful, smart, all-around fun Hammer Girls that I get to go home to every single night. And, I highly doubt I would have ever met all of you fun people out there, and most likely I wouldn't even be writing this blog right now at all.

Some people say that the hardest years of marriage are the first ones, and others say the hardest year of any marriage is the year you're currently in. If that's true, then in my case I really can't wait for the next forty years to be even better than the first four. I realize truly that all the great things in my life, I owe to my wife, and for that on this day I say a huge Thank You, to A. My ultimate ace on the river.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its always touching to see someone so hopelessly in love they'll devest themselves of all their manhood and speak such beautiful words of their woman.

I'm very happy that you've found that person in life that makes you who you are. May your next 40 be just as wondeful as your first four.

Now quite being so sappy and ghey and move along sir!

Take care,


12:03 AM  
Blogger smokkee said...

congratulations to you and your little lady Hoy.

12:20 AM  
Blogger jjok said...


1:30 AM  
Blogger jeciimd said...

so...uh...i guess that means no 25k/4k multitabling tonight?

1:35 AM  
Blogger Pokerwolf said...

Awesome post, Hoy.

Congrats to you and Hammer Wife!

Dude! You're from Boston?!?! I was born in Concord!! Or did you end up there via college or something?

1:56 AM  
Blogger Neil said...

Congrats, and many more happy years!!

2:21 AM  
Blogger TripJax said...

We are going on 8 years and loving it. Keep it up man!

2:29 AM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

I'm not from Boston actually, that's just where I ended up for my first job after law school. I'm from Philly originally.

Go E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES!!!!!

2:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

congrads man....and I'm from NY and huge Giants fan so LETS GO GIANTS....even though sadly i know we dont deserve to be in the playoffs after the season we had

4:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Hoy. Excellent post, and thanks for giving us a peek into your personal life a little bit. Gotta love when poker broggers share a little bit of themselves with their readers.

5:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats Hoy, and may you have many more happy years.


9:01 AM  
Blogger Wil Wheaton said...

Congratulations, Hoy. Beautifully said, sir. Nice hand.

9:33 AM  
Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Happy Anniversary Hoy.

This post made me smile.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, people actually love their wives? Interesting concept, my head is starting to hurt............

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I hate this "sign in with Blogger vs your Google account" crap. If you sign into one, shouldn't you be signed into them all? Lost my first comment because of this crap. Anyhoo...

Congrats on finding the right one. It's a lucky man who can find someone willing to put up with your, well, hmmm, (pauses) uniqueness. Yeah, that's the word I was looking for. *grins*

Seriously, you are a lucky bastard and HammerWife is a brave, brave soul. Bravo to her for taking the ultimate gamb000l and dragging a huge pot. Happy Anniversary to you & your better half. Again, sir, you set a very high bar.

5:31 AM  
Blogger AnguilA said...

Nice to see there's more people that don't eat cheese!

Now that's a selective membership club!

10:37 PM  
Blogger Hammer Player a.k.a Hoyazo said...

Down with cheese forever!!!

3:31 AM  
Blogger Irongirl01 said...

Congrats Hoy and to Hammerwife. Many happy returns!!

8:55 AM  

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