James Doohan, the actor who played "Scotty", passed away this week. He starred in every movie and episode, and was a regular on the national dork tour. You can't have "Star Trek" without Scotty. But what do we know about our chief engineer? He's remembered for RECEIVING a command from someone else. I mean, is he anything more than "Sam the Butcher"? Sam's a BUTCHER, and he bangs ALICE. Not a compelling character, unless you're Alice. They're critical to the advancing plot, but as thin as the new post-heroin Otis. I know more about TIGER the DOG.
I never wanted to be Sam, and I'm only half-Scottish. Yet, its safe to say good books and terrible TV have ruined my life. A better man tries to focus his life around that which is morally good. I've tried to be the center of the action. I'd prefer to be the good guy, wearing the white hat, but DAMMIT I'm getting a hat, and black'll do in a pinch.
Look at me..doing a good deed!
That's always been a weakness of mine. I remember, I was about 15, and we went on this charity trip to New Mexico. It was a church group, a church to which I didn't belong, headed out west to build new houses for Navajos. I just wanted the free vacation and I thought there was an outside chance of getting some cool feathers in my cap.
On the first day, our group met about 100 others and we were divided up by skill. There were carpenters, plumbers, roofers, and painters. I put a check by "foreman". When I met my group of 15 folks for the very first time I was the least qualified, and I was in charge of the mission. For most of the assignment, which was to re-roof and re-paint some old Indian's home, I was just trying to arrange the perfect meeting with a very perky chested girl from Wisconsin. That actually worked out much better than the poor Navajos home. We had to get reinforcements from 2 other groups to finish the house in time. But I did get to know that girl.
The players at our game are getting better, there's no question about that. And I keep trying to convince them that I'm as bad as ever. This time, we had a fun group, with Call-Done, BadBlood, Rocket, the Tank, and Randy. These guys are all pretty cool and they all have different styles. I don't hope to be the coolest guy at the table, so I take the opposite tack : TOTAL ASS.
For Example :
The flop is Ace high. I have big slick and bet out, Chef Shep cold calls.
The turn is a Queen. I bet the pot again and Shep cold calls.
The turn is a total brick and I push all-in which Shep again calls.
I know exactly what Shep has, and I'm POSITVE it ain't more than and ace.
I say, "If you have Ace-Queen you win."
Shep says, "I don't."
I say. "Then you lose."
I'm still an ass, but at least I've raked the pot.
If the shoe fits
Sometimes "asshole" is just a bad habit, but you don't find all the assholes huddled by the side of the building in the rain. There's no law against us and, like it or not, we don't blend with you decent folk. Sometimes I find myself using "asshole" as default mode just based on the asumption that one of you will be smarter, better looking, or more deserving of the protagonist role.
What's amazing is how quickly I can change it back. If I'm surrounded by douchebags I can become more noble than you'd imagine. That's an even better role. Badboy turned good. What a great story to tell!
The game's over
So Thursday night after all the players have cashed out, only BadBlood and I remained. He was having a rough night, mostly due to poor timing. I had somehow managed to bleed away 3/4 of a $200 profit. As always BadBlood played the gracious host, and I had only one move to make.
"I know you're too cowardly to do it," I said, "but if you want to go heads up, I'll take the rest of your stack"
"Come on, you can't be serious," said BadBlood...who was, in fact, serious.
"Look, I'm happy to cash out, but I'm just saying, I dominate you always"
And so heads up play, good vs. evil began.
Tommy the Axeman was so captivated by the duel he stayed to deal each hand for 40 minutes after he cashed out.
BadBlood took about $25 from me and outplayed me on almost every hand.
All the world's a stage
The most natural outflow of this literary chip is unnatural competition. I'll try to beat you at anything. Competition has been the bedrock of my friendship with Otis for over 5 years now. We've competed at beer chugging, rock-paper-scissiors, fake song singing, shot slamming, put down dissing, and every other activity we've ever pursued. Never was the leisure activity introduced that we couldn't make into a fight. Somehow I'm always the bad guy there too. That suits me just fine.
More than anything, the competition drives me to the front of the stage. If I ever achieve anything in my professional career, its because I'm trying to one-up a co-worker. If I ever become a semi-decent poker player, its because I want to beat down the table. If I ever become a master of love its to have that unspoken edge against my lover's others. (I'm hoping that last one is only in jest).
Poker is the best outlet I've ever had for that competitve nonsense. It's perfect for a drama king like me because everyone is a major character and the competiton is so tightly tied to personality. I can divine so much about the character of my opponents simply by the way they play their cards. Its one of the reasons BadBlood and I have become such good friends. I know a lot about him by the way he raises and folds.
Into the soul with Mr. Hellmuth
At your next home game I challenge you look at the person to divine the style. You'll be suprised by what you find. An insecure child like Phil Hellmuth is a good example, I'd play some goofy hands against him because he'd want me to look up to him. I don't, and instead of letting it tighten my hand selection I'd do the opposite. If it weren't for luck..and a lack of respect..he'd win every hand.
I expect a hen-packed husband to play calling station.
I expect a Napoleon complex to bet maniacally.
I expect a failure of a man to play too tight.
I expect a sucessful man is prone to a nasty suckout tilting.
More than that our character flaws, the ones that you can't order from central casting to play a major role in post-flop play. The lifetimes of fears and secret motivations laid bare by a flush draw. In the game of poker all ten players, good or bad, are central charaters to the plot. In winning or losing we become critical players in their storyline as they do in ours.
Just watch out for the asshole with a need to be noticed. He's likely to play whatever style you don't. He wants to have someone else "Beam him up!".
He wants to wear a hat.