There are consequences for every rule, and not just the ones we break. In the news biz we are paralyzed by the search for the elusive "other side" on stories that have just one or as many as a dozen sides. The sky is blue. Democrats and Republicans are BOTH wrong. Sometimes the coin lands on its side.
There are good games that run late in G-Vegas. One, a raked game in a very close suburb doesn't even fill until about 11:00 on Saturday night. I'd planned to play it after work and brought the requisite roll. Then Otis called as I walked off the set. I went to the bar instead.
Otis was there, at this awful hole in the wall with karaoke, he was pushed againt the rail with T and Ted. All three were buzzing like a bad cell phone. The bar itself was almost empty save the few singers who began each country tune with, "I just wanna say, I love America." It was THAT kinda place.
Otis is an entertaining drunk and Ted is just entertaining. T actually picked up the tab. We drank jaegermeister and bud light, leaving only after Otis started asking random strangers some rather inappropriate questions and Ted sang "Magic Man" falsetto on stage.
Back at T's place, on folding chairs in the driveway, as T and Otis lost their lunch, I launched into the same drunken male bonding patter familiar to anyone buzzed with buddies. Thing is, it's something Blood and I have talked about a good bit.
I'm an asshole. I'm not mean per se, but I really don't care about most people.
In poker my self-absorbtion passes for a kind of meta-strategy, a way to tilt the game. In most cases, that's exactly what it is. At the "Spring Hotel" the very worst players have ME as their target. I spent months setting that up. We've gone a thousand rounds in this blog debating the efficacy of the hammer bluff and I swear it's a great paly. I've shown dozens of them down at this game. The worst players there are so wounded by those hands that they're determined to call me down, they're blinded by ego, afraid to look foolish, and they pay off every massive hand.
The most important thing about a no-limit ring game is always table selection. Within that, player selection wins. Eyeball the biggest stacks the minute you sit down. Which of those players will give you all their chips? Those players are your targets all along. I play every pot I can against them.
And now, now that I've acted the arrogant asshole and bluffed them off big pots, now that I've talked trash after wiping them out a few times, those players come looking for me. THEY try to play pots with ME. It's a golden situation and it's the biggest reason I've had such a profitable year.
The poker thing IS an act. In part. I'm actually an asshole all the time. As I sat in the driveway with my 3 close friends I wondered aloud about just how few people I really DO care about. There's my family, of course, and my very close friends. I'm a fiercely loyal friend. I just don't make friends fast.
It's especially a problem at poker. I've stopped viewing it as a game or diversion, poker is a job. I make money playing poker and I take it seriously. I enjoy it, I love it in fact, just like I love my actual career, but it's still a job. The people I play with are, more often than not, targets for a win. They aren't people I really WANT to get close to.
It wasn't always that way. Back before our regular Thursday game went broke (for which I blame BadBlood and TheMark) I played poker with friends. I met BadBlood through poker and now consider him a very close friend. I'm friends with theMark and Shep and TeamScottSmith. I used to play frolf with the Smiths. I actually took up poker because my good friend, Otis, talked me into it. But once we started with the underground games and the significant income gains, I stopped playing social poker.
But, back to my being an asshole, that was the case before I ever played cards.
I'm not the kind of person who really hates people. I love people and love the people I meet, especially through my job. In fact, meeting odd sorts of folks is the single greatest perk of my profession. But I'm reluctant to actually be PERSONAL with anyone. And outside of the constraints of my work, I'm rarely interested in hearing about anyone's personal life.
It's like a running joke between Blood and I: If anyone needs to pretend to listen to the stories, concerns or ideas of some other person... that's his job. If someone needs to really be an asshole... leave that to me.
I wonder sometimes if that natural personality flaw, and clearly it IS a flaw, has served me well at poker.
I can take money from the same people every week. I feel absolutely no regret. And, because they see me as such an asshole, they're DYING to beat me.
I have no idea why I'm blogging this. I will say that I've made some VERY good, and rare, friends through this thing. By reading the blogs of others, I've been brought into caring about their lives.
As a rule folks, reading about YOU is more interesting than reading about your poker hand. If I could take one book to the beach, I'd consider printing a year's worth of JOE SPEAKER'S posts.
Poker is good too.