A good husband makes a good wife
I made it to the World Series of Poker this year. The US embassy gave me a visa. I was very glad to go because it was terrible to skip these tournaments last year. This year my wife and I rented an apartment in Palms Place, very close to the Rio, and a Chevy Camaro convertible. When the sun was out we'd open the roof, roll down the windows and drive.
I wasn't the only poker player in my family this summer. My wife played too. I started training her late last year. In the first 10 days we were in Vegas she made more money than me!
For my wife, choosing to play was a difficult decision. Earlier this year we were talking about trying to move to another country. We also wanted to start a non-poker project. But after missing so many live events because of my visa problems, I felt like I needed to play at the WSOP, to make money, to be there.
I told my wife I had to go and that she should go with me. I said, "If I you want to sit in a room the whole time while I play, you can sit in a room. But I can teach you to play. It's not difficult because I know how to explain things and I think you're pretty smart."
I've done some teaching in the past. I had three or four students who paid me for training. I stopped doing it for two reasons. First, I was too lazy to make it work properly. Second, I think the price was lower than I wanted and higher than my students wanted. There's no way to make it work.
My wife is a special case of course. Honestly, it's not really difficult to understand how to be a winning player at small stakes. The challenge was starting my wife out slowly enough. It's like learning to ride a bike. The first time is not that easy.
I had to force myself to stay simple. I wanted to explain some hard decisions to her but for the start I kept our talks to easy decisions. Then little by little I started expanding her poker mind. Those steps were also difficult for me. I needed to find ways to say things that my wife would understand.
After those initial stages things got a bit better. I started teaching her about 3-bets, 4-bets, check-raises and other things like that. I was very happy to see how she improved her game.
At home, my wife could put her lessons into practice by playing online. At the WSOP that was less of an option. Instead, after tournaments, we'd sit on our balcony and talk about hands and think about spots, ranges, and things like that. We didn't have formal lessons.
We'd just talk whenever the topic came up. We might have been in a restaurant eating and in parallel we'd talk about poker.
For me it was natural to want to help my wife improve her game. I think she can have good results in the future. It will depend how strongly she feels in tune with the game. My work is to say things that will allow her mind to open up to the nuances of the game.
I think she'll continue to play after the WSOP. She's already put a lot of energy into poker. She's a person who doesn't want to drop a job halfway done. Most of all, she wants to be at the top. She wants to win a tournament.
What great poker player doesn't?
Maxim Lykov is a member of Team PokerStars Pro