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Poker Blog established in 2003 as the first stop for poker news, poker stories, and bad poker advice.

July 15, 2004

Otis and the Mea Culpa

by Otis

I've always thought of a "mea culpa" as something you might run into in a back waterway in Venice. It sounds slimy and, perhaps, a little on the dangerous side.

In reality, it's something people don't say enough.

Which is why I need to take a brief diversion from our regular poker passion to consider the value of our community of poker players and writers.

I've long believed green felt could've torn down the Berlin Wall. Few substances and even fewer fabrics have the ability to bring together such a wide variety of people, backgrounds, and mindsets. Maybe booze, but green felt is better to set your chips on.

If not for the inherent competition in the game, it could likely serve as the world's greatest relationship therapist.

I believed that even before CJ invited me to begin blogging here on Up For Poker. But once we started here I discovered something even greater. You don't even have to have the felt. You don't need chips. You just need a love of the game.

In the past year I've come to ethereally know some of the best players, writers, and thinkers out there in the poker world. In a few short months I felt myself actually thinking about these folks and talking about them to my wife. How one guy lost his job. How one guy was nursing his pet back to health. How one guy is on the road living a bohemian life.

That was pretty odd for me, to be honest. I typically care about a small circle of people and the rest be damned.

Then I figured it out. Most of the poker bloggers out there are the Northern Otis, The City Otis, The Backwoods Otis, The Left Coast Otis, etc. Or I am the Midwest/Southern version of them. That is, while all living different lives, we all spend, perhaps, an inordinate amount of time focusing on a game we love.

More than that, perhaps, most of us have an understanding that we're not only focusing on a card game. As we grow our game and our understanding of it, we grow our minds. We have a better understanding of how people work, how relationships exist, and how to make decisions based on experience. We are people who realize that poker is not just a means to play, or not just a means to a profitable end, but a means to some sort of greater understanding of our own minds. If we can understand why we make decisions in a game, me might better understand how or why we make certain decisions in our life.

Now, maybe that sounds a bit heady. Maybe I'm over-glamorizing the game. Maybe I've developed some romantic notion of poker that more experienced or more jaded people might view as an idealistic perception of an otherwise brutal pasttime.

Maybe. I dunno. But I know this: Since I started playing every day, I've started understanding a lot of things a lot better. Poker can be a stabilizing factor.

But even better, writing about poker is therapeutic. It helps me write about life, people, and stories through a lens that we all can understand. If I just wanted to write about anything, I'd stick to the blog I've been operating for the past three years. But here, CJ gives me an opportunity to filter many of my thoughts through a green-felt-lens.

It was in the writing and reading of other poker blogs that I came to know all these other folks out in the ether, the folks I appreicate, admire, and respect.

All that said, I think I went and offended one of them.

That sucks.

Sometimes in my overtaxed head I find a way to make real certain passing notions. I've done that recently.

So, this is a very public way to offer a private mea culpa to one of my fellow champions of the game.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled poker insanity.

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