I wrote to you last time about my thirst for the poker table dying down. My mind hasn’t changed today. As I sat at the game on Friday, I took a glance at the bigger picture and moved back a few steps to the role of overseeer.
Here I was playing poker with a room full of strangers save one friend. I had dumped $60 in my previous two sessions and was about to lose another $30. In front of me was a man visibly and admittedly distraight about watching his Kings go in flames to 3s. To the right of me was an elderly man of at least 80 years of age, still playing cards even though he posed no actual threat of winning. His physical limitations handicapped him so.
I was spending Friday night playing cards in a backyard building made into an exclusive poker room. Nothing was thrilling about the situation. I could feel my posture actually getting worse as a I sat at the table and I couldn’t detect anything positive emminating from the situation. Even if I won money, had I really won? In total, the drive will last me one hour. My tournament duration lasted about three hours and the cash game consumed another. In the end, I walked away wondering why I was playing.
The most enjoyable part of the whole night was actually playing with my friend Bob. When I got there, the first thing I did was look around to see if he or Pete (another friend who actually hosts his own home game) was at the game. Because really, I’m not a rounder or a grinder or out to make my money in the local poker circuit. If I show up to this home game, and I don’t see anyone I know, then I am left with 29 other people I don’t know, playing for hours to trying to win their money.
I have no qualms with beating other people at poker and taking their money. I do take exception to my time and health though. My time is valuable to me. It’s hard for me to justify grinding out about 5 and a half hours of poker (my estimate of how long it would take to win the tournament) for maybe $300 of profit (they pay out places well). Besides the chance at money and improving my poker game, there are only marginal benefits left for me.
For some people, the game of poker is so alluring they are happy to make a career of it, playing in backrooms, casinos, or online for 40 to 50, maybe 60 hours a week. I’m enchanted by poker too, but the marginal utility poker gives me breaks down rapidly. Parallel my thirst to a nation’s blind lust for now President Obama. His supporters ran effortlessly on energy and momentum alone, just based on the idea of him being President. However, as his true policies and ultimate core values have emerged from the shallow waters of campaign slogans and generic support for all things good, more and more citizens are quietly slinking away from his corner.
And now I too slink away. Poker’s invitation is never one I will completely reject. I do love playing the game, but this past month has shown me poker’s place is not in my inner circle. There are several reasons why this is so, but my primary problem with the game of poker is of a paradoxical nature and cannot be resolved.