Adventures in Poker
Bringing My A-Game
One of the famous code words in poker—one that has a different meaning inside the poker world than out—is “tourist.” A poker pro—even a semi-pro—is supposed to be able to beat the tourists, who by definition aren’t supposed to know how to play. The tourists can get lucky, of course—that’s what keeps them coming back, those times they call with the wrong odds and hit anyway, those times they play their lucky hand and win a huge pot, those times they stay in stubbornly till the river when any idiot could see they’re beat and then hit the magic 2 percenter—that one card that suddenly puts them on top. And you, the pro (or aspiring semi-pro), are supposed to smile politely, fork over your chips, and say “nice hand!”, all the while counting the dollars that you’ll make from them (or people like them) over a lifetime (but not tonight).
Men at Work
a lesson about loving what you do
Among these rueful, self-deprecating guys, caught between pride in their craft and ironic awareness of their rank, there is one man who plays by entirely different rules. It takes me a few minutes to realize he’s not just like the guy I’ve seen on TV, he is the guy I’ve seen on TV, in one of the televised final tables of the World Poker Tour. Soheil Shamseddin is an Iranian who spent most of his life in Texas. The nickname given him on the WPT broadcast—known for its relentless witty monikers—was Soheil “What the Hell,” because he truly didn’t seem to care what he played or what resulted from it.
Take Me Out Coach!
finding wisdom in getting benched
I’m still not sure what happened today. I lost about half my chips in the first fifteen minutes—no mean feat when the blinds are still so small—and despite my reassurance to myself that it doesn’t matter and my promise to myself to slow down, I somehow managed to lose the other half before the first hour was even over.
when it comes to my first win, size doesn't matter
After losing a few more live satellites, I end up in bed at 1 a.m., not quite ready to give up. There’s a $50 tournament that is just starting, and somehow I convince myself that it’s only going to last a short while. My chip stack grows, slowly but surely. I don’t care how long I stay up, I don’t care how long it takes me to win, I don’t even care whether I do win, since it’s kind of a weird accident that I’m playing at all.
no more questions ... really?
No matter how tired The Numbrist is, he can never resist the chance to explain himself. “You can learn the system,” he says. “Or you can learn the form. But you want to question it, argue with it, figure it out. You’re stubborn.”
can a nice girl go head-to-head?
Surely, despite my piss-poor showing the last time I played heads-up (and don’t ask me why someone who admits she can’t play heads-up would then put $1500 into a shootout), I can take this guy. Can’t I?
tick. tick. tick.
My experiences yesterday and today have shown me that when it comes to understanding patience, I’ve barely scratched the surface. Patience, to a poker player, has to be stretched and twisted and unraveled and worked. I picture it as a fine white mesh, sort of like mosquito netting. Patience in poker isn’t just waiting; it’s wrapping yourself in that fine white net so tightly that you are sure you’ll never move again, all while moving so freely and easily, resting so calmly and peacefully, that it looks as though you aren’t confined at all.
the best laid plans ...
As it happens, my routines pretty much all depend upon amazon.com. I’ve had them send me a juicer for processing all the fresh fruits and vegetables I bought at Whole Foods, which my naturopath has promised me will help me lose weight. I’ve never juiced a thing in my life, and I now have about 90 minutes to get ready for an event that doesn’t exactly leave me feeling cool and confident. What would be the sensible thing here? What would you do? Well, what I do is make juice.
the reason I win. the reason I lose.
I am neither patient nor disciplined: I’m just stubborn. And because I’m stubborn, losing every chip I have isn’t really going to teach me anything, not if it happens only once. Or twice. Or three times. I’m pretty stubborn. I might have to lose everything a lot more times than that.
Losing My Innocence
the impact of $20,000 ... cash
I got back from Senegal on Monday, leaving me only three days to pacify my clients, get my laundry done, have my hair cut, hear about my mother’s chemo, meet with the people who are helping me start this blog, and see my naturopath. This doesn’t leave much time for paying my bills, re-evaluating my budget, or depositing the checks that have arrived in my absence (thank God!), which creates an unforeseen cash-flow problem.