PLAYERS:

Luckbox | Otis | G-Rob

About the Up For Poker Blog

Up For Poker Blog Categories:

2006 WSOP
2007 World Series of Poker
2008 Belmont Stakes
2008 Kentucky Derby
2008 World Series of Poker
2009 WPBT Winter Classic
2010 WPBT Winter Classic
American Idol 2009
B&M Poker
Bad Beats
Betting the Ponies
Bradoween
Craps
Disc Golf
Fantasy Sports
Frolf
G-Rob's Thoughts
Game Review
Home Games
Horse Racing
Internet Gambling Bill
Las Vegas
Lefty's Thoughts
Luckbox Last Longer Challenge
Luckbox's Thoughts
March Madness
Movie Previews
Movie review
NCAA Basketball
NETeller News
NFL Football
Online Poker
Online Sports Betting
Other Gambling
Otis' Thoughts
Pick 6
Playing For Fun
Playing For Money
PLO
Poker Blogger Tournaments
Poker Blogs
Poker in the News
Poker Law and Legal News
Poker Movies
Poker on TV
Poker Players
Poker Psychology
Poker Theory
Poker Web Sites
Pot Limit Omaha Strategy
Reading Material
Sports Betting
The Nuts
The Playboy Mansion
Tournament Action
Tuff Fish Appreciation Society
Tunica Tales
UIGEA
Underground Games
Up for Poker News
WPBT Holiday Classic Trip

Previous Hands:

December 2010
November 2010
September 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
December 2008
November 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003

Powered by:
Movable Type 6.7.9
Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

June 21, 2007

Face in the crowd

by Otis

I knew it because I had stopped taking pleasure in my friends' success. Instead, I felt a nagging envy that set my mind wandering to places it shouldn't be. In the past, friends' success would be cause for celebration, a mutual endorphin rush that comes from the home team winning. My feelings had started to become the equivalent of the former leadoff hitter watching his replacement steal another base. The home team may be headed to the playoffs, but for the guy on the bench, it's just another reminder that he won't ever have a chance at being in the Hall of Fame.

I knew it because my heart had shifted. I'd never embraced schadenfreude before. Now, I was taking immense pleasure in watching people fail. If not pleasure, I at least found some sort of sick comfort in watch my enemies implode at the tables. And what was that? I'd never before had enemies. I never actively disliked anyone before. Now, I did.

Each of these things started to manifest themselves into misplaced anger. I wasn't merely feeling sorry for myself. I was starting to get mad at other people for failing to see how miserable I really was. I was feeling unappreciated. I felt like I was giving more than I was getting back. They were never feelings I would express, mostly because I knew how fucked in the head I really was. However, it was all there and I couldn't deny I was feeling it.

It occurred to me in mid-May as I stared at the digital clock on my nightstand: I wasn't me anymore. The guy I always loved to be--was proud to be--was missing. My patience had eroded and now sat like an exposed nerve in an abcessed tooth. My ability to enjoy anyone's company was usually short-lived. I didn't like myself and I couldn't see how anyone could like me either. Once trusting to a fault, I looked at 98% percent of people with a suspicious eye.

When I was thinking reasonably, I realized it was a question of whether I was gone or merely lost. If gone, it was a question of whether I could survive as this new person. If lost, it was a question of along which path I lost myself. Was it the road to attempted poker success? Was it the road to being a good family provider? Was it the road away from traditional career? There had been so many paths I'd traveled in the past four years, it was impossible to say. I could've slipped away on any of them.

"Your mood is not in a good place," my wife said one night over dinner.

"No, it's not," I said, and left it at that. I was unwilling--no, unable--to tell her the truth.

I was lost and had no idea where to start looking.

The only thing that was at all certain was that I was not succeeding anywhere. I hadn't failed yet, but I felt like I was close. I wasn't even sure how to define failure. It would've been easy if failure had a finish line, some easily discernable point at which I could just say, "Well, I guess that's it, then." It wasn't like that, though. Failure seemed to be a slow process, one that didn't kill with a shot to the head. It was a misquito that was never full and always awake.

I wasn't broke financially or morally. Emotionally, though, I was like that old bluegrass song. "I ain't broke, but brother, I'm badly bent."

In short, I was functioning. Getting by. It was stasis in some sort of death embrace with stagnation. I awoke most days--and went to bed each night--with the same overwhelming feeling. It whispered, "You're doing nobody any good. And for no good reason."

What in the hell did that mean? "For no good reason?"

I had the feeling that my attempts to succeed on all fronts was contributing to my slow failure in each of them. If I had any talent in any of the arenas I loved, I was allowing each one to waste away.

That night, over dinner, I must have had that far-off look on my face, because my wife said, "Where did you go?"

After some prodding, I said, "I'm thinking about going to Vegas a few days early."

---

In the run-up to the European Poker Tour's Grand Final in Monte Carlo, Pauly had e-mailed me and asked if I wanted to go to Amsterdam with him after we finished up in Monaco. I felt the selfish twitch and thought about long days spent with Pauly in the coffee shops. I considered it for about ten seconds, before reminding myself I am a man with responsibilities. Leaving the family to go to Monte Carlo for the third time in three years was bad enough. Taking a week on to the trip to go hang out in Amsterdam would've been a bit too much to ask. In fact, at the time, I didn't even bring it up with the wife. She would've thought I was looking for a Responsibility Medal.

One night in Monte Carlo, Pauly and I stood in the middle of the media room and chatted about his upcoming trip. He talked about the various people he might see there, but said, "Man, I just need to be alone for a while."

And that's when I realize his invitation to me was one he probably wanted to make, but deep down he knew it would be better if he just had a few days to get his head together.

I thought about that for a while. Every man needs some alone time. It's not for a lack of love for the people around him. It's just time to be Away. I'd actually planned for it a couple of years back. It was supposed to be a secret trip to Tunica to be alone and test my mettle. Instead, I decided I'd rather spend time with my friends. We went and turned it into a little tradition.

Since then, apart from one day in tired Milan, I hadn't spent one day alone.

And so, the plan was to go to Vegas alone before the start of the World Series. At the time, I had no intention of being in Las Vegas for the whole Series. I had many a grand plan. And then everything changed and I became a seasonsal resident of Las Vegas.

And here I am.

I've struggled to find a way to express everything that's been happening here. Between the Eskimo Clark stories, Vinnie Vinh stories, and all the other seedy news going on here, there's not been any time for reflection. I say all this because I get the sense a lot of people are searching here, but it's such a hard place to search, like trying to find a needle in a stack of needles.

So, here we are, and I've offered nothing yet in terms of good writing on Up For Poker. I've been working hard to make my paid gig better than it has been in the past. I've succeeded a few times and turned out three or four pieces--out of about 70--that I really like.

The good thing is that, even though this grind is not as enjoyable as it used to be, I get the sense I'm on the cusp of something. It may not be anything resembling success, but at least it will be something resembling peace.

Because of all that, a lot of what I had been feeling for many months is gone. I'm turning back into the guy I like, for better or worse. And if I can find that guy again, I'll be one step toward getting where I need to be.

A couple nights ago, I had the pleasure of having a couple of drinks with Jim McManus and something he said turned a little light on in my head.

He said that he had made more money writing in the past year than he had playing poker.

I'm not exactly sure what, if anything, that will end up meaning as I try to get this soul searching off the ground.

But, it has to mean something.

| 2007 World Series of Poker