This isn't the post I was planning to write this morning but sometimes we play the hand we're dealt.
I have this neighbor, we've become friends, who joins me at the gym about 5 days a week. I've learned to enjoy a good workout and I've found having a friend there with me pushes both of us to do more.
Wednesday, I heard something at the bench press that made me excited about poker.
Later, I heard something in his pickup truck on the way home that made me remember what I don't like about a ring game with strangers.
Last night I remembered what I hate about playing online and in person.
THE IDIOTS AT THE BENCH
After a quick warmup we always start with a few sets on the bench press. I went first, then my friend, then we switched up for another set.
Next to us is another bench where three men in their thirties were also trading sets. They were talking about a card game the night before. I loved every word.
"I had the Ace-high straight," said the angry one, "and some idiot makes quad 10s on the river!"
"That guy's an idiot!" said his incredulous friend.
"I mean, there is a 1 in 100 chance of that happening," continued Mr. Angry, "I win that hand 99 times."
I couldn't resist interrupting.
"Did the idiot have a set or trips? And if he had trips, weren't you at all concerned about your straight on a paired board?" I asked.
"Naw," said angry, "This guy doesn't know how to play."
I let it go but suddenly wanted very badly to work an invite to their table.
Later as my neighbor and I worked a few sets at something else, the same three people were still talking nonsense. I interjected and told them I like to play cards, my name is G-Rob, we should play sometime.
I hope to make money from them.
These people are my most profitable demo, perfect strangers. People I've played with for years have made good and proper adjustments to my strongest game, forcing me to make adjustments of my own. I dominate people who don't know me at all.
THE DRIVE HOME
So after our workout my neighbor and I climb into his truck and head back home. In fact, I was in the middle of telling him about why I talked to the poker nitwits we'd met, when someone cut us off.
It was a woman in an older model Honda Civic.
"Damned woman drivers!" he yelled.
"Yeah," I muttered back.
"Only thing worse than women drivers is the blacks," he continued.
The car kept going. My mind came to a screeching halt. All I could muster from this person I thought I knew was, "I don't know about that..."
"Look," he said, now leaning over the wheel he was gripping with both hands, "this isn't easy to say and I know it's going to sound bad... but I'm a racist."
How in the hell does a decent man react to a statement like that?
I simply said, "I'm not."
The next day, Thursday, this same neighbor called to ask if we were still going to the gym. My answer to him is the heart of this post.
The Poker People You Meet
I've made some very close, hopefully lifelong friends at the poker table. I first met Badblood while playing in Otis' garage.
I met TheMark and his brother Gucci Rick the same way. Honestly, I could spend the next 400 words listing the names of good honest people I've met, and who's company I've enjoyed. People who I otherwise wouldn't know without poker or this poker blog.
Still, the number of complete asshats in my life has skyrocketed too.
Poker, a stressful, competitive, individual game often brings out the worst in people. Somtimes it digs up the very worst in... the very worst of... people.
I've spent hours at a time sharing the felt with people who, for one reason or another I truly cannot stand. More often than not that happenes either in casinos or in casino-like underground games.
Homegames are a lot better. In fact, the two most popular homegames in town are populated ONLY with people I actually DO like.
However, if you've played in any underground room then you know what I mean. How often have you sat at a table with someone that you'd never allow in your own home? Would you want your boss to see you in their company?
Does this attitude make me a snob? An elitist? Perhaps. I don't think so.
I still voluntarily sit with those people I don't like
Because they can do something for me. Because complete strangers pay me off. Because I can profit from them.
I wonder what that says about me?
The Online Jerks
Nothing brings out the jerk in a person like the chat window online. I've written about it before, but it always strikes me what authentic a-holes people become when they take a bad beat from a stranger on Stars.
I don't think I'll get over that. Are people at their worst online? Or does the anonymity of online poker just show people for what they really are?
So I Went To The Gym
Honestly, I can't imagine many things a person could say me that I would find more offensive than, "I'm a racist."
I've really struggled with what to do.
I really enjoy the time this neighbor and I have spent together but I can't possibly let him think I will tolerate that kind of talk. In fact, I don't just want him to stop talking that way, I want him to stop FEELING that way. Which is part of the reason I'm still joining him at the gym.
We didn't talk Thursday about what happened the day before. Then, as we left the gym, three black women walked in past us. I felt guilty for the person I was with.
Frankly, I don't know what to do.
And that, is why I've wasted this important poker blog space writing about it.