I’ve kicked around the ‘whys’ of poker for a lot of years. What brings people to the table, what keeps them coming back to the table, what progression or regression they’ve made with themselves (not necessarily their bankroll), and most importantly…why I’m there. Why I’m there is the key factor because I’m the center of the ‘Poker Tapestry’ in my world.
What motivates me to be there? I’ve held other positions – some run of the mill, regular every day jobs – and had considered becoming a lawyer when I worked for an attorney, years ago, that prompted me to consider progressing from legal secretary to lawyer. My conclusion:
- A huge part of it started from the money that flows across the table, some of it being sent to my pocket.
- Playing…the excitement of the game, the energy of everyone around the table.
- Being part of the family. Yes…there’s a certain unity in poker players that isn’t shared by anyone else in the world. You barely have to say anything for the player next to you to understand where you’re at and where you’re coming from.
- The dream. To constantly carve out a win or take down the biggest tournaments of all time and have the freedom to play when ever you want and do what ever you want with your time.
- Mostly – for me – the people experience. Listening. Learning about people through their emotions, conversations, and actions – and in turn – learning more about myself.
Now the world watches everyone play poker. I may be unique in what I perceive at the table – although I’ve talked to other people that share my view – I’m sure that most of the world watching televised poker aren’t picking up half of what’s going on. And on the thread of my perception, I receive occasional comments about my being uncomplimentary in what I write or that I’m not writing if everything is good and I’m not upset. Not true…not true…not true.
I feel my writing portrays what the whole scene is about…in the long and short of it, nothing is glamorous about poker. Someone has to lose for someone else to win. The win and loss is like the rise and fall of the tide. If everyone sat around in neat, little orderly rows, and placed their chips in nice little stacks, and never burped or farted, and were always clean and neat, and calmly said, “Nice hand!” when they lost, and gently slid their cards into the dealer, poker would not be as we know it today. And this is NEVER what happens in a poker game. The game is built on emotion, skill, perception, people. That’s what I write about. The real world of people in poker.
If all the conversations and actions of people in the games were recorded and played back, the world would be shocked that this stuff went on in ‘public’. The world can’t believe that Scott Fischman acted the way he did at the final table or that Phil Laak behaves the way he does or that Phil Helmuth acts the way he does when TV portrays their behavior. Why not? Why would their behavior on TV be any different than their behavior at the poker table in a casino?
The ‘whys’ could go on forever. So let me leave this thread with an exchange I had with Gus – tall, Greek, temperment of a shark in a feeding frenzy – (no, this doesn’t mean I have a problem with him – I get along quite well with him considering he’s got a very dark personality and it shows in the following conversation).
He flits between Holdem and 7 Card Stud but has played mostly Stud lately, $15-30 or $20-40. He always sits in the 4 or 5s and squints a lot when he looks at his cards, takes an hour to look at the board and make his decision, gambles a little too much, and always appears to be unhappy. This particular time, he was running over the game. He had at least three to four racks of $5 chips in front of him and by his relaxed mode and behavior towards his cards, it was easy to see that he was quite happy, although his face never gave up that info.
The player next to Gus lost a couple of hands and was grouching, cards were coming in a little fast, mumbling about the beats he’d taken, etc.
Gus chimed in with, “Shoot the dealer. But use a 38 and not a shotgun, that way she might live through it.”
He thought he was being quite funny and entertaining. I didn’t say a word until he repeated it the third time. Finally I said, “Gus! Knock it off. That’s not even funny.”
He gave me his grim idea of a smile and just acted like it was part of the everyday conversation that everyone in the world goes through. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t upset.
I do find it strange that people relate to life and their experiences with violent thoughts. Their way of solving a problem is not my way. But that’s poker…a world where everything is outside the lines of everything else we do in life. That’s why I’m still there.