Ok, here goes. The eternal search for les bon mots. And you know you’re in trouble when the very first sentence on your very first blog post includes something pretentious like ‘les bon mots’…
So I finally gave in and did the social media lark. Hello 21st Century!! I guess that my primary aim here is to have a space in which I can jot down my random musings on poker. A subject that never ceases to engage, fascinate, uplift, stimulate, exhilarate while also driving me abso-fucking-lutely round the bend. I guess that’s what happens when you fall in love. You take the rough with the smooth, the upswings with the down and the Aces with the seven deuces.
And yes, you read that right – I fell in love with poker. A strong word surely for just a card game, no? Well, perhaps to a non poker player it’s just a game – and even worse, one that’s played by dodgy characters in smoke filled backrooms in a shady part of town. Of course to some of us that image is in itself a huge part of its charm but then I always did rather fancy living in a Philip Marlowe novel….
Alas, how ever much I would love to triumph the utter degeneracy of the game, the truth is of course a lot more complex than that. For every gun toting Texan hustler, there’s a hundred geeky Ivy league graduates sitting in front of their screens. And instead of the spit n sawdust backstreet poker room of our fantasies, there’s the slick operation of an EPT or WSOP event.
But of course Poker is more than just a game. It’s life played out in cards! All the triumphs and miseries, the ecstasies and horrors, the weird and wonderful variances of destiny. And for me, it is without doubt the greatest intellectual endeavour of my life. Which is why I fancy jotting down some of my thoughts along that path of discovery.
And it’s never just seeing it in terms of strategy and probabilities (however much those things matter). Rather, I am drawn to the deeper concepts and lessons that poker can encourage us to consider. Whether that be emotional, psychological or even spiritual….there’s no doubt the Buddha would have made a fine player! All of which I would like to think about more here.
Personally I still regard myself as very much a beginner. At least in ability and knowledge. In fact, if anything as time goes by I feel like I know and understand less. So when I think about what I thought I knew 6 months ago, I now marvel at how I was just chipping at the top of the proverbial iceberg.
It reminds me of a conversation I had with a PhD student a few years back who told me – with a slightly unhinged tremor in his voice and a shaking hand – that there comes a moment when you look down at your chosen field of study and realise that rather than it all being nicely within estimable limits, there is a whole continent of knowledge which you may never even grasp. And that potentially it may require more than a lifetime to even come close to understanding.
He would have told me more but at that point, he looked like he was about to burst into tears so I rapidly changed the subject in a very British way and asked him what flavour crisps he fancied or something suitably inane….
Anyway, my point is that that is how I often end up feeling when I look out at the great vista that is poker. This being said, fear not, I am not close to tears…well, as long as you ignore that unfortunate encounter last night with 98o that is…but that – as every bad beater already knows – is another story.
No, rather, I look out at the acres of undiscovered country and never cease to feel excited, stimulated and yes at times, utterly overawed. Which are all feelings that I experience just looking out at the wealth of knowledge displayed out there on some of my favourite sites such as http://www.thepokerbank.com/ or www.pokerstrategy.com etc.
And that’s why we can continue to say that we live in a golden age of poker…just as we could say that we live in a golden age of ukulele or any other interest you care to mention. The ability to share so much knowledge and explore so many questions together in this unlimited way is truly wonderful. I can’t imagine what my poker would look like – not to mention my bankroll – if I hadn’t had access to this amount of resources.
Oh and for the record, my poker playing is a whole lot better than my ukulele. That was one interest which even with lots of practise, never did quite reach the desired heights…or lows for that matter .
So where I am at in terms of skill, I think the best way of describing it is to quote the other wise Dolly….Parton as opposed to Brunson, who famously said that she is “too good to be bad, and too bad to be good”
In a weird way, I sometimes think that describes perfectly the state of my game. Somewhere between the really bad fishy recreational player and nowhere near the serious grinder. Either way, on the whole, I am enjoying where I am at. And surely that is the whole point – to enjoy the process and in a very Zen way, recognise that in this great poker session of life, it’s the journey that we must focus on. Showdown will come whether we like it or not.
Ok, so inspite of the fact that I was supposed to be introducing myself, I actually haven’t really said anything have I? Well, how about this factoid….I tend to be very verbose and write far too much. Oh, you knew that already? Sheesh, uncanny….
Apart from that, I live in London and after finally experiencing my first taste of live poker at an EPT, I have started checking out the social poker scene. So gradually coming out from behind my screen.
I work in the media, in the really old fashioned world of print. Yes, do you remember those things? Newspapers? Yeah, I know, old school. So depending on your point of view – and how you wear your tin foil hat – working in the mainstream media means that I am part of a manipulative wicked controlling nefarious empire that wishes to establish the New World Order. Oh and yes, Pokerstars is rigged so that I can see you now via your webcam. Nice underwear btw. I never knew you could get it in that size and colour.
Or, if you are jaded and cynical, I work for a dying industry that is desperately trying to convince young hip things that news on paper is a really great idea. And if you agree, please drop a penny into our ink stained grubby hands.
On that note, I think I better stop there. You can see why they never ask me to write anything in the newspaper…paper is not cheap. Which leads us ever so neatly to the resounding conclusion – yay for blogs! Yay for endless talk! Yay for unlimited prose!
And if that thought of verbose abandon doesn’t terrify you, then you’re welcome to join me along the way. And if it all sounds far too tedious then you’re probably better off looking at much more respectable things like Kim Kardashian, dwarf throwing or Mike Caro’s hacked iCloud account….wow, who would have thought you could do that with a poker chip? I always thought it was just ping pong balls…..