Thursday, January 23, 2014

Looking for the Positive

I am NOT what Rush Limbaugh calls a "low information voter".  I read a lot of news reports and editorials, watch the evening news most nights and have even been known to listen to talk radio from time to time.  In other words, I pay attention.

If one pays much attention to the news depression can set in.  The news seems to usually be bad and the commentary can be even worse.  The economy is stuck in neutral, the government is taking a bigger and bigger slice of our income each year and continues to use that money/power to usurp our rights and freedoms, the NSA is spying on us, the IRS is intimidating us, the Iranians are developing a nuclear weapon and promise to annihilate Israel with it, the North Koreans already have nukes and are building missiles to reach across the Pacific, our public schools are terrible and steadily getting worse, the country is going broke, reports are that the next "bubble" will be student loans, we have less people working now than at any time since the Great Depression, it seems that a majority of people are on some kind of government handout, we have sunspots, comets, asteroids, global warming (a crock if you ask me), earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and God only knows what else to worry about.  The list goes on and on.

Someone once said (and I'm paraphrasing here) that when things are bad they're never as bad as they seem and when things are good they're never as good as they seem.  I have had a couple of experiences lately that have somewhat restored my faith in humanity.

Just before Christmas my wife and I attended a concert by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  The concert was in Birmingham and a cold rain was falling.  We had a couple hundred yards to walk in the rain.  No problem, we had an umbrella.  When we entered the arena the security folks were confiscating umbrellas.  (Said they could be used as a weapon.  No, I'm not kidding.)  Several barrels were available in which to leave your umbrella.  Of course, I complained.  "There's no chance I will ever see this umbrella again."

We had good seats for the concert.  The problem with having good seats is that you're some of the last people to get to the exits after the event.  I'm putting this down in black and white and I saw it with my own eyes but I'm still in shock:  That umbrella was still in that barrel when we got to the exit.  Several thousand people had walked by our umbrella and exited into a cold Winter rain.

Just last weekend we attended the rodeo sponsored by the Beau Rivage and held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.  While we witnessed no great examples of chivalry what we did notice was a coliseum full of good, hard working, polite, country folk.  These are the kind of people that form the backbone of this country, the kind of people that built this country, and the kind of people that will eventually save this country from itself.

There are good people all around us but they are usually overshadowed by the lowlife amongst us.  It's the same at the typical poker tournament.  We tend to only remember the one jerk at the other end of the table and forget about the other eight polite people with whom we enjoyed a great game of poker.

Our game is full of ladies and gentlemen as well as professionals.  Yes, it seems they take too much rake from the cash games and too big of a cut from our tournament entry fees but just remember:  We have a poker game available to us at any time and a wide assortment of tournament opportunities, all as a result of the effort and professionalism of the people running the poker rooms and putting on the tournaments.

In our game we seem to keep running into the guy that apparently had no raisin'.  He's usually one of the young "professionals" that has absolutely no idea how to be a professional much less a gentleman.  He's rude to the dealers, the other players, the cocktail waitress and pretty much anybody he sees.  He thinks he's the smartest and best in the room when, in actuality, he's the pariah in the room.  My suggestion is to ignore him as much as possible and relish the vast majority of ladies and gentlemen with which we enjoy our game.

The same can be said for life in general.  We're constantly running into the guy with road rage, the young woman texting while running us off the road without even knowing it, the rude clerk at the checkout counter, the waitress with an attitude, the low level government official on a power trip,  the doctor or lawyer with a God complex, or maybe even the mugger in the parking garage.  We can't avoid these people and sometimes we can't simply ignore them (the mugger is a good example here) but what we can do is take notice of all the good people we interact with each and every day and not let them be overshadowed by the few bad apples we run into.  The other thing we can do is strive to be one of the honest, classy, hard working, polite, kind, unnoticed "silent" majority.

When I'm playing poker I always keep in mind that I'm here to have fun and the same can be said for the other players.  Why would I want to ruin both their day and my own by be being dour, rude, and obnoxious?  I strive to be upbeat and polite at all times.  I remember that the dealers, floor people, cocktail waitresses, and chip runners are trying to make a living and I can have a small part in either making their work day a pleasurable experience or a nightmare.  My choice.

Are you going to be one of those people that we all hate to see coming?  Or are you going to be someone with whom I can enjoy a good game of poker?  That's your choice.

Until later.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gut Check

I'm writing this at almost midnight on my fifth day at the Million Dollar Heater at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS.  It's been a rough poker week.

I started out well by placing in the $500k Guarantee opening tournament for the series (87th place out of 1,972 players) and it's been all downhill since then.  I could tell you several bad beat stories but won't bore you with the gory details.  In short, I've played in quite a few tournaments and haven't made a dime.  I've lost all my winnings from the first event and am now in the hole by more than I care to mention.

It is at times like these that a gut check is in order.  Can I afford to keep losing like this?  Will I ever win again?  Is it possible to win a "race"?  Have I lost it?  Did I ever have it?  Am I kidding myself?  Is it time to quit poker?

It's funny how poker often mirrors life.  A lot of times people get down on themselves over one aspect or another of life.  I've heard several variations of some of the following from different people and have had some of these thoughts myself:  Is the system against me?  Why is it that everything I try to do seems to end in failure?  Can I do ANYTHING right?  I've made so many mistakes that it seems I've dug a hole too deep to climb out of.  Is it worth the effort or should I just resign myself to mediocrity?  Why is it that I can't get that promotion when I've worked so hard?  Am I incapable of sustaining a long term relationship with the opposite sex?  Why is it that I don't seem to have any friends?  The list goes on and on.  All of these questions are essentially the same question and can be stated thus:  Am I doomed to failure and should I just give up?  The answer is a resounding "NO"!!

Let's face it, in poker as well as in life sometimes things just seem to go wrong no matter what you do.  Is that a reason to give up?  No.  The proper course of action is to evaluate the situation, differentiate between the things you control and the things that are out of your control, change what you can for the better, rededicate yourself to happiness and success and move onward and upward.

Of course, if you evaluate the situation and find that you consistently lose at poker and really CAN'T afford to keep losing don't be afraid to face reality and move on to other endeavors.  And never play poker with grocery money!

I've honestly evaluated my poker game, accepted that there are some things I can't control (sometimes AQ offsuit beats AA), continued to fine tune my game and dedicate myself to making better decisions, and I'll be back at it tomorrow with the full confidence that I can succeed.

Will I win tomorrow?  I'm playing in a tournament so, statistically the odds are against me.  If I get knocked out before the money I'll pick myself up and try again.  I've heard it said that you haven't failed until you've quit trying.  I CAN be successful, I HAVE been successful, and I WILL be successful--both in poker and in life.

Until later.