I listen to a lot of music. I love music. For some reason I don't care for poetry unless it's put to music. Then I love it. Go figure.
My taste in music is pretty eclectic. Some of the best concerts I've attended have been The Eagles, Willie Nelson, Aerosmith, Neil Diamond, Three Dog Night, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
The other day I heard an old classic: "Amarillo By Morning" by George Strait. There are quite a few songs out there about riding the rodeo circuit and that got me to thinking. I've never followed the rodeo circuit but it sounds a lot like following the poker circuit.
Both involve chasing that ever elusive big score. The odds are against you but you keep chasing the big gold belt buckle or, in the case of poker, the bracelet. In both rodeos and poker tournaments we seem to be driven by the same adrenaline rush. As Chris Ledoux says in "Hooked on an 8 Second Ride", "Hooked on a feeling, addicted to a natural high". It's more than the thrill of victory--it's the chase. Knowing you're almost surely behind with your one pair, an inside straight draw, and a back door flush draw but calling anyway to chase the dream. Or believing your over pair is good and betting it while dreading that third club hitting the board.
For the bronco rider or the bull rider it's surviving for that terrifying yet magical eight seconds. For us it's surviving the grind of a fourteen hour session hoping to bag chips at the end of the ordeal. And you're still not guaranteed to even make the money, much less take down the jewelry. While the physical strain is of a different sort the strain is there nonetheless. Anyone who hasn't done it needs to try sitting at that table and concentrating on everything that happens for fourteen hours.
Both sports (and yes poker IS a sport) involve living out of hotels, consuming a lot of fast food, traveling all over the country, being away from your family, and straining your marriage. They're both hard on your family life and whatever social life you might have. And they're both particularly tough on someone trying to hold down a regular job in their spare time.
In "Rodeo" Garth Brooks says "It's the white in the knuckles, the gold in the buckle. He'll win the next go round". You've just moved all in near the bubble with two pairs and the guy at the other end of the table is considering calling. Does he have a set? A bigger two pair? An over pair only? Is he going to call? Are you about to double up and be set well for the push to the final table or are you about to be sent to the rail? Your knuckles may be white and there may be a lump in your throat but you'd better not let it show. Why did you risk your tournament life on two pairs? Fourteen or fifteen hours of intense concentration down the drain? Are you nuts? You certainly don't have "the nuts". All you have is three pairs: two jacks, two tens, and a big brass pair. Why do we do it? To "win the next go round".
George keeps crooning "Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone". Well, my next stop on the circuit is the Million Dollar Heater in Biloxi to start 2014 so I guess it's "Biloxi by morning, back from my day job".
See you there. Let's chase that proverbial brass ring.