Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Poker: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Vent

In 2003, I caught the poker bug just like millions of other people all around the globe. I'm not going to lie and say I've been playing No Limit since I was a fetus. I'm not going to pretend like I'm better than all the groupies who saw poker on TV and jumped on the bandwagon. I saw poker on TV, then jumped on the bandwagon.

Over the last four years, I've experienced the ups and downs associated with poker, and I've also gotten to see both amazingly beautiful things associated with the game, and of course the Dark Side. I've curbed my poker playing a ton over the last 12 months, and for multiple reasons. The main one is that I don't want to play professionally, so my poker hobby has fallen into the same category as softball, basketball and ultimate frisbee--hobbies I LOVE to play, but just don't play that often.

I had a talk with Princess Leia the other night for the first time in a while, and talking with her about her recent trip to Vegas and also the current drama in the poker blogging community made me interested in writing a post about the many facets of poker.


I love the game itself. Much like chess, poker is a game that you can learn in an hour, but takes a lifetime to master. Toss in bluffing, incomplete information, the ability to read "tells" and you've got yourself one fun game to play. Another great thing about poker is the people who play it. I'd argue that most of the people you meet playing live poker are just a lot of fun to be around. Whether it is the joker at the table telling crude jokes, the grandma who is on her last legs raking in your chips and having the time of her life, or the peer you exchange a wink with, which means, "we'll stay out of each other's way and take all their money."

And then of course there are the bloggers. I got to attend my first Summer Classic, and it was much more fun than I could have thought. I had a feeling people might not be as friendly as they were, but everyone was very outgoing and had a great time, whether we were bowling, playing cards, or drinking. One of the coolest interactions, however briefly, was Hoyazocoming up to me at the MGM Sports Bar and shaking my hand. I had read his blog, and many more have read his blog than mine, but I thought it a very classy thing of him to do. Whenever I saw Hoy that weekend, he seemed very relax, laid back, and in a good mood. This might have been due to his strong finish in the money at the 6-max WSOP event, but I respected both his game and him as a person, from what I had read through his blog. I met many other bloggers and got the same feeling from them, including Bayne, Poker Gnome, Columbo, Falstaff, Iron Girl, Astin, Brian, Pauly, Waffles, Miami Don, Spaceman's Wife, and a slew of other bloggers.

I also got to experience the ritzy side of poker this summer in Vegas, while staying with Brandon, ZeeJustin, MrSmokey1 and a few other young prodigy poker players. They rented a mansion, hired a 25-year old chef, and smoked blunts in the hot tub every night--all due to their success at poker. Just sitting in the same room as them, playing mario kart and discussing poker hands makes you a better player, without a deck of cards in the room. They were all amazing people too. Not a one of them made a snide remark or treated any other person in the house in bad taste.


Addictiveness of the game. Much like anything you fall into quickly, poker can make money vanish quicker than a kid spending money in an arcade. I played above my roll many times and experienced this the hard way more than once. The opposite of the elation and smugness you feel after a winning session, every losing session you end up asking yourself, "Is this worth it?" "Why play a game for money where luck is such a big factor?" "Am I a good or bad poker player?"

The next morning, those answers usually come, "Yes." "Those luckboxes will give me their money eventually." and "Yes, I am a good player." You might not be a good player and just have an over-inflated ego, but that doesn't really matter--as long as you can convince yourself to keep playing and having a good time while doing so.

The people. Whether it is the anonymous online-type who act like douches because of their anonymity, or it is a sexist, racist or homophobic player at the table who thinks he or she is the center of the universe. I haven't met too many female ass-hats in poker, but I know there are a few.

I've already mentioned some people in THE GOOD section, and almost all of them, including myself, have had lapses of judgment and made their way into THE BAD section at one time or another. Although ZeeJustin and MrSmokey1 were nice to me, I'm sure other people have very different opinions of them, because they were treated differently--much like I'm sure many people have different opinions of me for the way I've acted around them. I honestly try to give everyone a clean slate, but if I sit down at a table and one person is being a big D-bag, I'm not going to be remembered by him as a friend--I guarantee it.


Poker, like life, can be a downright bitch sometimes. Like a wave of bad fortune, or string of setbacks or death in the family, poker has a troublesome way of making the bad worse. Many people have been ruined by the game, by not being able to stop playing and walk away. It could be a table you KNOW you can beat, but Lady Luck rears her ugly backside to you, and your Aces go down in flames. The money on the table to be had increases, and stopping just seems moronic. Yet you continue to lose more and more, to the point you can't be sure if you're tilting. You are.

Poker has a very natural way of bringing in some of the ugliest and dastardly scum of society. The point of the game is to bluff, steal and use any means necessary to win money. Although this does attract people to the game who see it as just that: a game, these core values of the game attract those who lie, cheat and steal in life--not just on the felt.

At the Summer Classic, I believe Marc (was it?) got held up at gunpoint for the $2,000 in his wallet, while he was on his way to buy into the WSOP. You don't really think it could happen to you, but in the Sin City, anything is possible--and it is more likely the bad will happen than the good (and I'm an optimist).

Dealers have to put up with a lot of shit too. Whether it is the superstitious high roller (or low-roller) who scowls at the dealer with hatred after flipping over an unwanted card, or the drunk or elderly player bringing the speed of the game to a crawl. I once thought about becoming a dealer, and although the money would have been decent, and the occasional table memorable, the majority of the time would have been a nightmare.

ZeeJustin got caught using multiple accounts a few years back, and his reputation took a big dive. I can assure you that the only reason he used multiple accounts is that many other players were doing the same thing, and to have an even playing field (and an advantage over others), he chose to do the same.

The current blogger drama between Hoyazo, Chad and LJ is further proof that everyone has a bit of ugliness in them. Like I mentioned earlier, I've had much respect for Hoyazo at times since I first read his blog, but at other times I wonder why I even read his blog. I'm sure he could care less whether I read it or not.

The point I'm trying to make is that everyone has GOOD, BAD, and UGLY attributes. And to complicate matters, every individual determines their own set of G,B,U values and parameters. In a perfect world with gum-drops for rain and chocolate street posts, people would always do the good thing in everyone's eyes.

In our world, that isn't possible. Hoy has a blog, and he uses it to vent sometimes. Sometimes that is directed at individuals, and specifically at their play. He vents a lot more than I'm willing to read, and I usually skip his posts when the interesting (to me) section ends and the bitching and moaning begins. Is he a bad person for venting? No. Is he a bad person for calling LJ out on a play he thought terrible? No. Did his venting have any positive effect whatsoever? Nope!

Maybe to him, but then there really isn't any need to post it publicly, is there?

Did LJ responding have any positive effect? Nope! By responding, she only increased the drama. It doesn't matter if she thought she was wrongly accused, by defending herself and her play, and attacking Hoy and Chad, not a single positive thing occurred. Maybe she felt a little better after getting it off her chest, but then there really wouldn't be any need to make that post public, would there?

I don't mean to sound preachy, but if you are going to vent, please consider what you are going to accomplish by hitting the "Publish" button. Curse out people all you want, be homophobic, racist or sexist if that is who you are, but save the draft and just... walk away.

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Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Nope. i am wowing all over the place. Mostly on my home server Koralstrais or something..

I leveled my Huntard to 70.. then started alts with the alternate professions I wanted to try out.. So I have like 3 alts leveling as fast as I can.

Main - TauMorianus lvl70 Hunter - Leather/Skin Needs gear!!!
Alt - Hemogloben lvl25 BELF Paladin
Alt - Trollip lvl12 Troll Shaman
Alt - CowLover lvl13 Druid Alchemist/Herbalist

7:59 AM  
Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

Haha! Nice post. Slightly preachy. But good nonetheless.

8:02 AM  
Blogger Schaubs said...

Nice post, I couldn't have said it better myself... as usual!

3:22 PM  

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