We were playing a friendly tourney a few weeks ago, the prize was the seat at the Bash's Charity Tourney. I wanted that seat. And I mean wanted it; more than I wanted to snog the cute popular guy in high school (which didn't happen, I was/am seriously dorky and uncool), more than I wanted that first underage drink in a bar (that definitely happened), and yes, even more than I want to lose this lovely pear-shaped physique I’ve worked so hard at developing.
I’d just sucked out on one of Al’s pals, in a way that made me say “sorry, dude”. His reply was “relax, it’s just a game”.
The statement caused such....indignation, I was speechless. I was gobsmacked. I mean, WTF??
But if it’s not “just” a game, then what is it?
I did an informal poll to get other feedback, to see if maybe it was just me. Everyone had the “no, it’s not just a game” reaction, and most had the same violent visceral response as I did. Of course, the people I polled were degenerate poker freaks like me, so yeah, the results are a tad skewed.
I’ve been thinking about this on and off for a few weeks, trying to answer this from my own perspective. I’m still struggling with it, but two things have occurred to help me get a bit closer to the answer.
- Today I was reading Wicked Chops, and clicked through to a Time article on kids and poker, entitled Parents for Poker. In it, the writers talked about poker as a teaching vehicle rather than as a waste of time. But the thing that really caught my eye was this bit:
In their classic 1944 book, Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern built a mathematical model of economic and social organization--creating the foundations of modern game theory--by studying strategy games like poker. Poker is like life, the argument goes, a battlefield where the players constantly try to assess risks and guess one another’s next moves.
- On the drive home on Sunday, I thought about what I had experienced at the Bash and in Vegas, and about how fucking lucky I was to have stumbled upon a vehicle where I can meet and mix with such FUN people. And it’s been a very long time since I felt comfortable enough around a group of that many people to be myself, warts and all. (Sidenote: remember The Feenix Loud? *wicked grin)
Poker is like life – I like that. It’s a microcosm of psychology, math, social behaviours, monetary management, personal interaction, problem solving, abstract thinking, and change as a constant. Lots of bang for your buck, isn’t it?
Now I get that poker is not for everyone…and for them it is just a game. Hunny Bunny asked me once, what was it about poker that has so caught me – damned if I know for sure. But I’m closer to knowing. And I think I’ve answered the question I’ve been asking myself since July ie. where am I going with poker – is it going to be for fun or am I going to get serious about it?
To quote Joanne; it’s sooooooo not just a game.