Poker Players vs. Poker Writers and The Natural

“Iris Gaines: You know, I believe we have two lives.
Roy Hobbs: How… what do you mean?
Iris Gaines: The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.”

In one of my favorite sports movies of all time, a baseball version of the Arthurian legend, we’re treated to a great scene in which the baseball version of Perceval (Robert Redford) has an intense dialogue with the top baseball reporter of the day, Max Mercy (Robert Duvall).
Hobbs: “Did you ever play the game, Max?”
Mercy: “No, but I do make it a lot more interesting. I’m here to protect this game; and I do it by making or breaking the likes of you.

Mercy’s desire for power gives him a large amount of control over the game– the people want stories and poetry, and Duvall’s character takes the idea of “poetic license” to the extreme to create stories that people want to believe. But Max never played the game, so the stories he creates are based in an outsider’s world of the game, someone who hasn’t lived through the drama of the game he writes about. I’m a big believer in the saying that “truth is stranger than fiction,” and that the real stories in life are a lot more interesting than fictional ones, if the writer can tap into the dramatic arc of the subject’s life.
I’ve always considered myself more of a poker player than a writer, but these days I haven’t had much time to do either. There is a lot of work behind the scenes at an online poker site to bring players a fair and enjoyable game. Don’t get me wrong, I like my job a lot, it’s just that I really miss playing and writing about poker. I’m still playing, but for the few hours I sit down at the table to play each week, I have to shake the rust off my game and “get back in the groove” of betting, raising, and computing pot odds.
And if I don’t have the time to play much poker, I feel a little bit like Max Mercy when writing about poker. The struggles for discovery and “lightbulb moments” that came so frequently a few months ago are few and far between. Many of the ideas at the higher limits are learned through experience, and I find many of my plays are based on “feel” rather than some concept that can be explained. Maybe Max Mercy would be able to put these concepts into words, but the player would say something like “it just made sense to me.”
Things are settling down at work, so hopefully I’ll be back 4 tabling again sometime in the near future. For everybody out there who is putting in the hours at the tables– win or lose, enjoy it. I miss the marathon sessions and the ups and downs of the grind.
Oh yeah, this will help you have more ups than downs if you’re out there grinding every night.
On a lighter note, 2+2er natedogg posted a more comical view of these ideas in his post, Evolution of a 2+2er.

1. “Wow, this forum is awesome! Everyone talking poker and stuff. I’ll post some hands and see what people think.”
2. “Screw these guys. They think they know everything. Well how come I’m winning so much then? Hunh? Position shmosition!”
3. “Damn these guys are all pessimists. I say if you can’t run over a 6-12 game while half-asleep, you’re a total monkey, IMHO.”
4. “Ok, maybe I need to be open to new ideas.”
5. “Variance is a bitch. This game is practically all luck. I’m going to make a post titled: ‘luck vs. skill’.”
6. “I want to hear from the forum experts about all the considerations that come into play when defending the big blind against an open-raiser in the cutoff when you hold A3o, J9s, and 44.”
7. “I found this news group about poker but all they do is either fight or bitch about how much they hate 2+2. I don’t get it.”
8. “I’ll never fold on the river again.”
9. “I need to stop paying off the river bets.”
10. “I’ll never fold on the river again.”
11. “That Tommy Angelo character sure has some strange ideas about how to play poker.”
12. “What is this no-limit stuff? Mason says in Poker Essays Vol II, which I’ve read 14 times, that it’s a piece of cake. You simply bet enough so they can’t call you on a draw. How hard is that?”
13. “The chances that I’ll draw out plus the chances that he’s bluffing plus the chances that he’ll fold a better hand add up 122%, so I should raise in this spot.”
14. “I wonder if Paradise Poker really is owned by the mafia. You never know.”
15. “Look at this post! A pre-flop question? Gimme a break. If you haven’t figured out preflop by now, forget it.”
16. “Jesus Christ, I just don’t have the patience to read through yet another post on how to play AK after you miss the flop in a three-way pot in middle position.”
17. “You know, that Tommy Angelo character is starting to make sense.”
18. “Look, play whatever hand you want, however you want, in any position you want. I really don’t care. You’ll either figure it out or you won’t.”
19. “I’ll never talk strategy or specifics with anyone again as long as I live.”
20. “I’m going to post this hand from last night cause it’s so damn funny what happened. These guys will get a kick out of it.”
21. “awww screw it i think ill just go fishin in mopntana and throw away my worthliss spell chekcer besides punctuation is for suckers, i dont have the time or inclination; to discuss poker anymore”

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