's just a game.

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??

And then I was gobsmacked because I was gobsmacked. Why such an emotional response? Had I finally slipped over that fine line between pastime and obsession? Why did that statement bother me so damn much? It is just a game, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Fuck, no.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

4 Responses to “'s just a game.”

  1. # Blogger Joanne1111

    Great post, Kat :)

    And yep, I did say that lol...  

  2. # Blogger 23skidoo

    Ditto Kat!  

  3. # Blogger Donnie (aka Shadowtwin)

    Poker really is like life; the best laid plans and most carefully thought out decisions are often rendered irrelevant by things that are beyond your control. In poker, as in life, all you can do is make good decisions that you can look back on and be happy about. When you do make a mistake, learn from it and try not to repeat it. Sooner or later good decisions will lead to good things. As long as you remain confident and never doubt your own abilities you will win, be it in life or in poker. To call it "just a game" trivializes all the time and effort spent at bettering yourself. Sometimes luck may not be on your side, but it is most certainly never "just a game".  

  4. # Blogger RoccoBoxer

    Great post - good stuff.

    I got the game - thanks so much!

    See you in the Mookie next time.  

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