This world of work refugee explores the "almost impossible" for fun and sometimes profit. Here he shares his discoveries at the poker table.
How a Non-Gambler Found Happiness at a Poker Table
Where am I?
Some dates will just never escape my mind, which is beginning to fail.
Mostly it is the garden variety, short term forgetfulness type, like "Where did I put those car keys?" Many people of all ages seem to be forgetful on occasion I've noticed. But, in my case, frequency is growing as I age. So I better get this written down before I forget what I was writing about.
I found the same to be true with fact recall. At the height of my pre-internet trivia career, I could be flat on the floor, half asleep, and, half awake. Party spirits were still doing their magic with my mind and body. And still, I could recall some factoid in an instant. Now, it takes me a week and a half to recall that same factoid. It is like being constipated. I know it is there, ready to come out if I could just...I have found my wife and Google to be far more efficient.
Oh right, back to that date I could never forget.
Cinco De Mayo, 2005. It was a fine, sunny day in May. And, if I was Mexican, I would have been busy celebrating a victory over the French empire back in 1862. However, I must have been mistaken for a French Soldier by some freaked out Mexican wannabe who said God spoke to him. Apparently God had it in for me that day. Or, was it just one of those fateful, life changing events that culminated in a much better place for me to be in just about every way ever after. At least after I awoke from the shock of the blow.
I've never been to Mexico in May. I wonder if I should go before I die?
Oh Right, Now I Remember!
Many things changed that day.
I have two metal plates in my jaw from the steel toed boot that found that sweet spot professional fighters target. I was down like a duffel bag falling off the back of a pick up truck. Even naked, I would probably set off security alarms at airports. I can't believe professional boxers and their ilk do this for a living. I don't travel much on planes anymore. Nor, do I go out in public without my dog. A 115 pound German Shepherd.
I also never went back to the world of money and people who want to do something with it. I was a do-gooder on my way from a Rotary meeting to discuss a client's financial future. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, in a busy restaurant, when this random act of violence occurred! I thought I was in a safe and secure profession, I've become considerably more cautious with people since.
I turned from baseball to golf, and now a big, beautiful German Shepherd Dog for physical activity. As a result, I lost a great deal of weight, became a pretty good golf shot-maker and have no fear of attacks from strangers in public or on those long trail walks in potentially hostile, wooded areas. I also learned a great deal about big, powerful dogs.
Use It or Lose It
I've always been a "use it or lose it" person when it comes to keeping fit enough to enjoy life. I can't even begin to express the fear I have around becoming immobile. Might as well as shoot me in the head right then and there.
I'm no health nut. But I have watched people lose their vitality just from sitting a little too much. So I keep moving.
I've always felt the same about the mind.
Mine provided my family and I with a good life and a great many solutions to the multitude of life's ongoing list of issues and problems. Letting the brain turn to mush due to inactivity just wasn't in the cards. How could I resist?.
So to keep my then beautiful mind sharp and dependable, I began playing Texas Hold-em poker, on-line, for worthless chips. My jaw was wired shut. No work, no ball, no real food for eight weeks. I'm still recuperating fifteen years later. Kidding.
Let's be clear. I am not, have never been and never will be a gambler. I hate losing money to chance. I feel stupid whenever I take a dumb ass chance and lose on anything, especially if I know better. And I have made more than my fair share. So I avoid it like the plague, or Covid-19 these days. Emotions can be such a pain sometimes when it comes to decision making, eh?
I am, however, very interested in things that are ALMOST impossible to do, like get rich quick schemes. I enjoy figuring out ways to make them possible with minimal risk. It's like a mind hobby. Especially if the odds are astronomical. Million dollar plus lotteries, making a big dog happy behaving like a human, investing in high risk stocks and playing winning poker are all among my current almost impossible pursuits .
Until recently, my only real success playing real money Texas Hold-em for so long is that I haven't lost anything. In short, I learned how to avoid losing any more than my original $20.00 buy in. And that is if I never cash in. (There is about $26.00 in my game site bankroll.) With that in mind, as entertainment and "mental fitness" costs go, it has worked out to just over a penny a day and dropping. So that's a pretty good return on my entertainment investment dollar, I figure. It is a matter of perspective.
But now I'm beginning to win without such volatility to the bankroll. (I've been to zero/almost zero at least half a dozen times in the last five years. I'll share how to continue playing for real money even if you're tapped out in a future article.) So it is even more fun.
What I have learned over the years though is priceless. So it must be time to write about these glimpses of life through the lens of a player sitting at a poker table.
What Do You Mean Poker is a Blood-Sport?
So You Think It's Just a Friendly Parlour Game...Think Again
After umpteen thousands of situations involving people and their money, I have come to several conclusions. THE most notable being, don't mess with it.
Don't try to take it without asking.
Don't ask to borrow any of it.
Don't ask to have some of that borrowed money returned.
Don't trick them out of it.
Don't short change them on their interest, not even a penny.
Oh, I could go on.
There is quite a spectrum of peoples' emotions when it comes to anything having perceived value. The extreme position of "that's mine" only softens as concepts like "enough" and "sharing" are learned and accepted.
Even then, I have found "well off" and generous people will get very upset if something is taken from them without permission. Even if it well known they have no need for it and were going to throw it away anyway.
Of course it is theft, but sometimes the degree of upset does not necessarily fit the crime. Or the effort to resolve some petty dispute.
In short, it just comes down to basic fear and greed. I believe it to be primal and wired into us. And it is on full display at the online poker table because of anonymity. The most impressive observation is that it just doesn't matter what is at stake. Including truly valueless chips in the case of fun or not real money games.
As a result, your poker opponents truly do want to destroy you in any way they can. And beyond the actual playing cards, there are a surprising number of tools, weapons, strategies and tactics they will employ to suck the life aka chips out of you.
At the start of any poker game there is at least one serial killer looking to do serious damage. It doesn't take that long for the others at the table to realize they have to do the same or else they die. In tournaments where tens of thousands may play, there will be literally hundreds, if not thousands of card playing predators just itching to get hold of your chips. They are the sharks you hear and read about. They are constantly searching for that easy meal of unsuspecting fish.
Avoiding getting eaten and not being one of the fish that fall prey to the shark is best learned in non-money games. Think of it as a kiddie pool.
So the goal of every wannabe real money poker player is to become a shark killer, not just a shark, to end up as the last man standing.
I appreciate this may seem extreme as there are many who play poker just for fun and don't mind losing a bit of cash they can easily afford to lose. But over time, they will continue to lose.
Think about it this way. Let's say you lost just a penny a day playing anything and you did it for fifteen years, like me. That would work out to $54.75.
Now start adding zeroes. Do you want to be a penny fish or a dollar fish?
Conversely, there are winners, but they are few and far between. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
I never feel badly winning a pot of money because everything is so anonymous and amounts are so minuscule.
But I really would feel badly if my win resulted in the loss of some gambler's life savings, house, family, job, self-respect or the ultimate beat down of self-inflicted death. I can't see myself playing in the kind of games where that much was at stake.
That shouldn't happen when playing for pennies though. Gosh, I hope so.