Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On being a failure in poker and life

Failure is relative. That's the first thing. I mean, take any ten people at random, including me, and I'm the best poker player among them. The chances of your picking a better player are low enough that I can say that.

See, that's something I've learnt. How chance works. I am saying I failed, not that I learnt nothing.

But mostly I learnt how to fail.

I was aiming at being good enough to make a living. And if I was Romanian, I would have made it. And was close to making it but I lacked some elements that you need for success: not least, ruthlessness. And any aptitude for hard work, let's face it.

But it is like so much in life. I understand the game. I know what it takes. And I know every excuse I can use to avoid doing what it takes. In the end, I had to quit because I am not a gambler. I know that seems weird when we're talking about a gambling game but you can play poker without loving to gamble (I don't think you can be very good at it though: again, it's the ruthlessness -- not just with others but with yourself). I had good offers for staking and that could, should have been enough to see me through a bad patch in freelance work but I realised I could not risk my kids' wellbeing. A steady income, even if it was unglamorous gave me the ability to know I could provide.

So failure is relative. I failed as a baller but I succeeded as a dad. At least in that way.

But of course you think what if. What if my backer's offer of coaching had been a bit firmer and I'd have taken more of a chance? What if I had spent a hundred hours learning push/fold so that my game was strong enough to switch to games where the edge is all in push/fold and not so much the all-round game that's my strength now? What if I wasn't a pussy?

Well, what if I wasn't is meaningless. I am. That's the thing with failure. It's relative. If you're who you are, you can only do what you are capable of. I learnt this about other people long ago. I am deeply forgiving of others for being limited. Yet still I hate myself for it.


So am I too cowardly or too lazy to write a novel? I am hoping the answer is neither. Paul Valery went something like twenty years without writing. It happens. Other shit gets in the way. When a plant isn't watered, it doesn't grow. Right? But I hope I am a cactus. That I am tough in some way and will still flourish when given the chance. I know I must create the chance myself. I'm not a good schmoozer. I don't have connections or friends in useful places. That's not the fault of my friends. I certainly know people who would do anything they could for me. But they can't do anything for me.

I have not given up on me. I mean, we all have bad days, bad weeks, when we think we will amount to nothing (unless you've amounted to something). That doesn't mean we are nothing.

You know, pick ten people at random, including me, good chance I am the richest among them. I have not forgotten that I am fortunate. I am smart. I am a damned good writer. And I see what it is and that's something you can turn into money if the chance comes. It'll come. I mean, here's where I should say money doesn't matter to me. But I chose to be a poker player, where success and failure are measured in dollars and no excuses. So in some ways it matters. But only as the way we keep score, right?

This is how I will be successful: you take ten people, me among them, and I am the happiest.  It's not impossible. That's something else poker has taught me. The worst among us have a lucky day sometimes and if that day coincides with the Sunday Million... well...


At 3:49 pm, Anonymous @PeterSnickers said...

Dude. Get a case of Snicker bars.


Post a Comment

<< Home