Friday, December 14, 2007

Gamblor's complaint or How I learned to stop worrying and love poker

I do love poker. Am I good at it? Well, I've addressed that question in my session "There's a reason why they call it a gutshot" and a session before that called "Playing your hands as the hands blaze". Basically, overall I've concluded I'm a mid-range player at least right now. I won't go into a full analysis of that sentence because as I've said I've done two sessions about that already. It's possible for a middling player not to lose that much money. The key probably would be when you hit a high note on a hand, just hold on until you can cash out. But that's not my style. Even in cash games I tend to play until the end or until time forces me to leave. An alternative strategy is not to play people who are better than you, but I tend to play whoever I can get. It doesn't matter. I'd like to some day be capable of winning money consistently but when I play poker I tend to play not to win money but to win games. But actually I can't even claim that happens much, honesty really I play not even to win but just for love of the game.

Poker in the end to me is a game more than it is gaming (heh, heh, you get it?) And it's a game I love. It's a game of skill surely. There's a real probability angle to it that some of my friends excel at. Off the top of their heads they can quote you the odds of any hand. There's also a people person skill to it. On the one hand you have to read your opponent, on the other hand you have to be read. Now you can try to throw your opponent off with misinformation, but heck they can do the same to you. And of course there's luck. Even the best players can be beat on the river. But I've always also seen it as a game of strategy where you surely but slowly try to knock everyone else out.

Still that doesn't give a real picture of the game. The viseral thrill of gambling is part of its appeal, but not most of it. The real core of the game, is the focus. You draw your entire self into the game, you fill your mind with analysis of every factor knowing you're leaving something out, the people who surround you become the entirety of society, and every hand becomes a lifetime. And then your win becomes a perfect victory, and then a loss becomes a tragic loss. Every commitment to a hand is a rollercoaster and a damn scary one at that.

But does that capture the game? No, not really. So what is the game? What makes it special?

It's poker damn it, and that's good enough for me.

So take it to your head, take it to your heart and remember Rand rocks. Goodnight Folks!

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