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Solitaire

At my last trip to AC with Roose, we came back to the room tired, but riding high on adrenaline from the day's poker activities. Roose is like a brother to me. Our parents became friends when they were young kids in the Old World (Brooklyn). When my father met my mom, he introduced her to Roose's mom, and they hit it off as well. Because of this, Roose and I have practically known each other from the womb, and in many ways he is closer to me than my actual brothers.

He was sprawled on the bed as I sat in the one armchair in our Showboat room. We were discussing all sorts of things, but came upon the subject of his upcoming nuptuals. "Is it that different?" he asked. "No," I replied. "Being married is exactly the same as dating seriously." I though some more. "The change is when you move in together." Roose had not moved in with his fiance yet (and still hasn't), and as he contemplated the changes, he made a statement that stuck in my head these many months later. "I'm a loner."

Here he was, one of my best friend's in the world, and he was a loner. We were there with Randy Hole, and aside from him, I know a bunch of Roose's friends (our mutual friends). How could a guy like that be a loner? But there it was staring me in the face. I was a loner too. In a way, most of my friends are.

Poker is a very solitary game, regardless of how many people are at the table with you. You are playing for yourself, by yourself. There is no team. Your win is their loss, and assuming you are not playing with a bunch of friends in a penny-ante game, you likely want to win. Your opponents want you to lose.

The solitary nature of the poker probably attracts a certain type of person. Generally, we are an anti-establishment group, who would prefer to live a life considered by many to be a "vice", and do not want to have to work under the hierarchy of corporate America. We are the lone rangers, getting by on our own wits, making our own rules, and reaping the benefits of our own actions. It is simultaneously a boon and a loss. We are our own subculture, our own community, but we are, to a large extent, a community of loners.

If you don't agree with the earlier statements, then that is fine. This is merely my perspective. The implications, however, are what really interest me.

I understand why it is impossible to organize poker players. I refer more to organizations like the Poker Players' Alliance morseo than anything else. Poker players are self-interested individuals. We don't like being told what to do, and we don't like attending obligations or giving money to organizations (of course, I don't speak for everyone here). As a result, we are not organized and probably never will be. Even at the highest levels, talks of unionization has been thwarted, mostly because individual players don't see the immediate benefit to themselves and do see the potential loss of freedom that comes with organization.

As a blogger, my loner mentality tends to come out in different ways. Large blogger gatherings far away from home don't interest me. I can do AC or Philadelphia, but Vegas is another animal all together. I just can't get over that hurdle. Traveling a long distance to hang out with a group sorta...unsettles me. It is just against my loner's code, and I suppose part of it is a fear that traveling a long distance to be in a group will put me outside of my loner comfort zone. Also, part of the appeal of AC is not the organized aspect of it all. It is the pleasure of having people with similar interests around me, but not feeling beholden to anyone. Don't get me wrong. I want to hang out with you all. I just don't want to force it. Ideally, nothing would be better than just hanging in a card room and knowing that if I have a bad beat, Alceste at the other end of the table will feel my pain. Or, when I'm done with an 8-hour session at 7am, Hoy will still be two tables over and willing to grab some early morning grub. Its classic loner bonding. At the table, whent the cards are dealt it is just me. Me. You. But not me and you, no matter how much I enjoy your company.

Being a loner also has some implications at home. Poker is a solitary activity, and wifey Kim has little interest in it, probably largely because of her non-aggressive, uncompetitive, social personality, something that I find strikingly attractive and impressive. The truth is, to a large extent, wifey Kim is just not plugged into my poker world, and I am kind of glad that it is like that. Sure, there are times I feel pangs of guilt because I spent too much time online and not focusing on wifey Kim, and at other times, I feel bad that it is 1am and I am at the IHO tournament, when wifey Kim calls and asks when I'll be home. But in the end, I am on my own at the games, and those pangs of self-inflicted guilt (wifey Kim is very understanding), are more a testament to my desire to be less a loner, than of any outside influence placed upon me.

Interestingly, wifey Kim also has little knowledge of my poker blogging life. She knows I have a blog, and she used to joke when I chatted online with GCox and TripJax (she would call out, "Hey GCOXY!" in a high-pitched voice across the room, mocking my apparent girly chatness). But the idea of bringing her to Okie Vegas or even a blogger gathering in Vegas doesn't appeal to me. First, I'd have to introduce her around, assuming that I can even remember anyone. Then I'd have to explain who people are in our community, but for an outsider, I am sure it would just sound like white noise. Worst of all, I would bring all of those feelings of attachment and commitment with me, and any me-time would bring on a case of the guilts--MY guilt, independent of the reality that wifey Kim places no obligations on me that I do not place on myself. The reality is that I prefer to rage solo, if I can borrow a great term from Otis. I want to be free, not held back by anyone else's expectations or feelings. At home, I can't be that way. I don't want to be that way. Here in my girly online journal and with my girly online friends, I can be that guy. I am a lone wolf, and while there are more like me, I am beholden to no one.

Where is this going? I don't know. I just felt like writing, and the thoughts just sort of come out onto my keyboard and into your eyes. I also have though about the separation between wifey Kim and poker for a long time. In many ways, I have two lives. One of the husband lawyer, and another as the degenerate poker player writer. Which one is the real me all depends on how you define what is real. Is the real me the one who comes out when there is no one else around to live up to, or is the real me the guy who is responsible and lives up to others' expectations, the consummate team player even if I tend to make my opinions known. I don't know which is the real me, but I hope its a little of both. I think that is likely the case.

So, in a way, I got to why I never have been to a blogger event outside of the NE area. As a loner, I would love to travel and spend time with people I only know from their blogs and online poker games. As that other guy, I feel beholden to my wife and spending OUR time and resources on something solely for me just seems wrong.

AC should be fun though. As much as I may seem to be an organizer, I very much just want to be one guy going to AC. If you are there, then great. I love poker and you do too, so I bet we'll get along just fine. I've hung with more than a few of the people coming, who now tentatively include Dawn and Karol from IHO, IHO regulars Alceste and Mary, Dave Roose himself, Hoyazo and likely a few more, and all of these people have something in common. They are all looking for a good time.

Rock on. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:12 PM,

4 Comments:

At 5:43 PM, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I think you are totally wrong in every way.. Yes, Poker is a single man "game" for the lack of a better word.. however the things that bring people together are common experiences.. when I tell you about my bad beat and you reciprocate and try and help me out that brings us closer on some level. I think alot of poker players can just "relate" to each other because of what they do and possible because of the traits that make a good player..

 
At 7:42 PM, Blogger Karol said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:03 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Must resist engaging woffle...AH I CAN'T DO IT!

Dude, don't get hung up on semantics. It's not a solitary game because you are playing in a soundproof opaque box. But it is a game that attracts loners because you are only accountable to yourself. Sure, we reach beyond ourselves when we converse, but at the table we are still raging solo.

 
At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

I'm with you on this Jordan. I'm anti-establishment, anti-authority and most definitely a loner - most of my competitive activities have been non-team things such as equestrian events, singles tennis and like David Williams, Magic the Gathering - activities where I'm responsible for my actions and the outcome.

And even though I'm a loner-type I still love the time at the poker table. I can socialize if I want to or just be quiet and concentrate on the game (depends of course on where I'm playing - the Crackhouse is always a social game.)

 

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