Stuck in the middle with you

There's a situation that arises in poker when a player raises and let's say you decide to call with a speculative hand. Then another player decides to put in a reraise. Suddenly you find yourself caught in the middle, which can be a pretty uncomfortable spot. Sometimes it's hard to avoid those situations, but if you can find a way not to get caught in between like that, you're usually better off.

Not too long ago I was in kind of a similar predicament with regard to my living arrangement. I was caught in the middle, you might say. Let me explain.

Up until recently, my brother Matti and I lived together for about six years -- ever since we left high school, in fact. He started really getting into poker and I kind of followed him into it, him being my mentor, and we played hours and hours and hours trying to get better. I always liked living with him. It was also very fruitful for us because we learned from each other a lot and evolved together to become better poker players. And I think having that common objective in what we do and try to achieve made living together that much better, too.

Meanwhile, I've been together with my girlfriend for almost three years now. In fact, we've been best friends for the last ten years or so. Back in 2011, during EPT Barcelona -- the one in which Matti went deep in the Main Event (finishing 10th) -- she and I began talking about taking the next step and moving in together, and so sometime after that she moved in with Matti and me.

We all got along okay, but after while it was getting a little tough, especially for her. After all, she had to deal not just with her boyfriend but with his brother, too. She ended up doing a lot of the cooking and cleaning as well, so it wasn't always easy for her.

Meanwhile I often would get stuck in the middle, sometimes acting as the negotiator between them. It was a little like that three-way hand in which you get caught in between. That's where I was, and in a way that's where she was, too, sometimes, having to deal with the two of us.


That's me, just half of what she was dealing with

Things did improve, though, and we all started to communicate better. Then eventually my girlfriend and I decided it was time for us to get our own place. So last November we signed a contract for a new apartment, and in January we were able to move in.

I'll admit, it was tough leaving Matti. We are very similar characters. And being poker players we also sometimes would feel each other's tension. Say when one of us was having a bad day, the other often would have a bad day as well, if that makes sense, because we understand what each other is going through so well. On the one hand, it was good to have someone who could sympathize. But it also sometimes made it hard having always to experience not just your own ups and downs, but your brother's, too.

So now I'd say my life has become calmer and even more productive. My girlfriend helps me get away from the tables and do things that are non-poker related, which really helps a lot, too. I'm pretty happy with the situation right now. I can visit my brother whenever I want -- we only live a few minutes away -- so we can still meet and discuss strategy.

If you've seen Ted, I guess the whole situation was kind of similar to the one in that movie. My girlfriend and I laughed pretty hard when we saw it, and to be honest I could identify a lot with what Mark Wahlberg's character is facing. He has this talking teddy bear with whom he's been friends since he was a boy, and then as an adult he has to make a decision regarding his friendship with Ted and life with his girlfriend. Wahlberg's character gets caught in the middle in that story, too.

I guess you could say Matti was Ted! Except he's a lot taller and not as fuzzy.

Christophe de Meulder is a member of Team PokerStars Pro