Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ways to dusty death

What now seems a lifetime ago, a strange set of circumstances prompted me to quit my job and head back to college to pursue a career in acting. Our training required us to behave strangely (Be a color!), prance around dance studios (which at least improved my footwork on the basketball court) and ululate like keening mourners. Two years of this nonsense told me that I had had enough. I still liked to act but had come to despise the theater. Fortunately, my previous profession welcomed me back and there I have remained.

I knew little about the craft of acting when I showed up on the doorstep of that well-respected BFA program save for the oft-repeated and usually misunderstood notion of asking oneself, "What's my motivation?" I was soon taught that the question is better framed as: "What do I want?"

The fact is, nearly everything we do is guided by that one question. We are needy sumbitches after all. People go to church/temple/mosque asking Higher Powers for ... stuff, both corporal and spiritual. We give love expecting love in return. The dollar bill we hand to a beggar usually has hidden if unexamined strings attached. How often do we perform a truly selfless act?

Alrighty, then. A strange segue into some poker content. But I've been pondering what I want from poker? Primarily, it's money. And while too often my performance would cause to conclude otherwise, I really do like profiting from this game. I like calling up Neteller account and clicking the withdrawal button. Yes, those cashouts have prevented me from playing higher stakes, retarding my poker progress, but it has seemed more important to take that "mad" money and pay for trips and vacations, obtaining a tangible return on the time and energy I've invested.

And, like every other aggro-donk, I like -- no, need -- to compete. Against others and, in some ways, against myself.

This particular tangent was spurred by my appearance Friday at a Group tournament. Despite a vow beforehand to play solid poker, my performance said otherwise. What the hell did I want when I showed up? If I wanted to make money, why the hell would I play that badly?

It occurred to me later that so much of one's crappy play at the poker table can be attributed to ego. What is tilt, other than ego run amuck? Were it not for ego, would we find it necessary to focus on a particular donktard at the table because they've had the gall to piss us off? Isn't ego the culprit when we decide to try fancy plays because we think were better or smarter than everyone else, only to discover we are not? Why the fuck do we call when we know the odds are high that we are beat?

Compare the styles of Mike Matusow and Phil Ivey. Matusow's approach teeters somewhere between genius and madness, a train wreck waiting to happen. Phil Ivey, on the other hand, strikes fear because he does not (or rarely) displays weakness or emotion. Nothing he does appears ego-driven or uncalculated.

Sure, luck in poker seems to bite you on the ass far more often than it gives you wet sloppy tongue kisses. But for all that time in between being mauled and frenched, pushing ego aside in favor of smart, thought-driven play appears to be the only option if what we truly truly want is to win.


Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

Very appropriate Hacker, cause that solliloquoy also notes "life's but a poor player". Shakespeare you'll recall was also the Royal Poker Tour's inaugaral Player of the Year.

I keep oscillating between wanting to win, and wanting to make the best decisions. In MTTs in particular the distinction gets very murky.

12:46 PM  

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