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It would be perfectly acceptable to rely on any of the well-worn and clichéd epithets to answer that question – phrases that have existed for many years – from the positive to the negative; “it’s an absorbingly complex game that takes minutes to learn but a lifetime to master” through to “Poker is hours of abject boredom, punctuated by seconds of pure terror”.
Both of the above statements are true and both hint at the intriguing depth that’s locked within a deceptively simple card game. Pokers’ real genius, however, is the way that it perfectly mirrors life. To excel in Poker – or life – you have to commit to hard work, dedication and study. You need to occasionally understand the nature of risk versus reward, develop skills, and along the way, rely upon a truck-load of luck.
In life, you have to be able to tell a story; you have to sell yourself. Sometimes, you have to bend the truth and bluff a little, even if it offends your moral compass. Poker is no different... you have to embellish, cajole, use position, duck and dive, live on your wits, and be mature enough to live with the repercussions of your decisions – right or wrong.
Even when you believe you’re at the top of your game, you must take nothing for granted. You need the ability to be a baby again; forget everything you know and start afresh. Be a sponge; constantly absorb new information, disseminate, test and look for every infintessimal opportunity to improve. After all, successful people do not do one thing, 100% better than you and I... they do 100 things 1% better than either of us.
Poker is unarguably imperfect, but that's great too, because there's something compelling about chasing a dream – something unobtainable: None of us could ever play perfect Poker and even if we could, variance and luck sometimes interfere to scupper our best plays. And that just adds to the challenge.
Poker is therefore a relentless and ultimately fruitless search for perfection. Don't we all do that on a daily basis?
I play Poker, because the game – in fact the whole poker economy – is wholly reliant on the people that love and participate in it every day. It’s not reliant on investors, bankers and traders; outsiders that care only about the bottom line and their balance sheets rather than the activity itself... no, it’s all about people. And despite what politicians and teachers might try to tell you, it's 'people' that make the world rotate (well, that and the moon... and gravity and other complex stuff that I’m not sure about).
I play for ‘The Craic’, for the banter, for the risk, for the quickening of the pulse, for the feeling of being alive, for the sense of temporary abandonment, and for the small sense of escape into a friendly world of compassionate addiction.
Poker is the last true bastion of selfishness and capitalism personified – and as we get older, that too is a rare commodity. In Poker, it's perfectly acceptable to be blatantly self-obsessed, self-serving and goal-oriented. In a politically correct world gone mad, that can be hedonistically refreshing.
Poker rewards effort and patience. The skills you need to develop to crush your opponents and get ahead, come at a huge price – but is worth the wait. After all, no experience that’s easily won is worth the effort. Poker is also a little raw, seedy and edgy too. That’s also alluring (go on, admit it).
I play Poker because it perfectly mirrors life, and I love life.
(This Blog was edited and re-written from an article that we originally wrote for Sky Poker, May 2010).
“I’ve Got The Nuts – Poker Squirrel” and Junk Male Chips © Junk Male Clothing 2010.
by Junk Male on January 28, 2011