I learned how to play poker at about 10 years old when my cousin Roz married Steve, who was a professional gambler. After family get togethers, we would pull out the cards and the cash and learn the finer points of Texas Holdem. My cousins and I would try to play on our own sometimes, but our bets would mostly consist of taking nana's big box of change, randomly distributing it into somewhat even looking piles, and declaring loudly, "I'll see your little bit and I'll raise you a lot!".

After college, I would play a little bit here and there, but never enough to actually understand the game and the ways in which skill was involved. I sat there with my little cheat sheet of what hands beat what and giggled loudly if I saw that I had a hand that fell somewhere on my list. I lost a fair bit of gas money that way!

But about a year or so ago, I started learning how to play for real. It kind of helps that poker has become super popular lately, since the aptly named Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, and the game became so big that Jamie Gold who won last year cashed out for over eight MILLION dollars. I don't have any delusions that someday that will be me, but I did enjoy learning to play the game a little better, if not well.

Since then, I've played in a couple of tournaments in a casino about an hour north of here, but never made the money. I have played quite a bit at the "cash" games, where you can get up and leave whenever you want, and since I get skittish when I start to win a lot or start to lose a lot, I've walked away with some decent money! I've played a lot with friends and done well too.

Today, I made it to my very first final table in a real poker tournament!! I didn't win the whole thing, but I did make it to the payout and am very excited!! I beat out about 80 other people, and was the last girl by about 20 people.

It was a very proud day for me :)