Wednesday, February 29, 2012

P-p-p-poker Face

It has become quite clear that I should not quit my day job and become a professional poker player. 

I know you spent hours agonizing over whether I should or not, but I'll save you further worry, I shouldn't.

Now, online poker playing with strangers you can't see might be a different story, but plain, in-your-face poker, um, no.

There are too many variables to control at one time.  With the ADD, I become hyper-focused, and to effectively play poker well, I imagine - since I haven't done it yet - you need to be able to not only concentrate on what you have in your hand and how to play with the cards life has dealt you, but you need to concentrate on finances - yours, and others, and you need to work on controlling your own expressions while observing the reactions of others as they get their cards, etc.  That's a lot to do all at once.  And I do not have that skill.

Ironically, as I typed all of that, it does sound a lot like life.  Except for the keeping track of the other guy's finances - that's really not any of my business in real life.  But you should be astute and read other people, and learn to play with the hand dealt you, manage your own finances, etc.  Those all sound like good things in life. 

Last night I was at some friends' home playing cards.  No, we were not playing poker, although if I did have money, I imagine these friends might have even some more fun with me.  But they know I'm broke, and wouldn't do that to me.  But we were playing one of the many variations of cards where you have to bid the number of tricks you are going to take. 

I am very conservative.  I typically bid under the number of tricks I actually took.  In this game, there's no penalty for that except that you don't gain the maximum number of points you could.  But if you overbid, you lose all the points you were hoping to gain.  I also know that I am NOT a skilled card counter.  But I have recognized that you also have to play to the players around you.  I challenge them because they play with each other all the time, so they know how the other will lay their cards down, but me, I'm an enigma.  I zig when I should have zagged.  I give away tricks I shouldn't.  I'm just not always sure the best way to play. 

My friend will comment on my hand afterwards, and tell me I should have bid two or three more tricks than I did.  Some of this is based upon my actual success, but most of it is based on what she would have bid.  But I gently remind her that I don't play the way she does, and the fact that I got those tricks was the good fortune of how the cards were played. 

She doesn't buy it.  But I think she also doesn't realize just how astute a player she is.  Not only does she know how to play her cards for maximum tricks, she is smart enough to watch the responses of the other players to get an idea of what their hand might be like.  Her predictive powers are quite a bit better than that broken clock that's only right twice a day. 

But I am risk averse.  And I bid conservatively.  Fortunately, I got dealt quite a few good hands, and despite the qualms about my bidding, I won. 

I guess she would have preferred that I won faster.  But now why would I do that? I was enjoying their company way too much to rush.  I just won't play poker with them.

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