Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Tangled Web of Half-Thoughts


According to my ninth grade Social Sciences teacher, Mrs. Breimle, it is good luck to utter "rabbits" first thing on the first day of any month. The reasoning and history behind this unusual idea completely escapes my memory, largely due to Donny spending most of our class time drawing hilarious caricatures of Creon and Sophocles.

I actually said "rabbits" first thing this morning, as I reached for the snooze button. I don't know how or why it popped into my head, but there it was. This better work. I'm gonna move up limits to try it out.

A famous sports writer once responded "February" when asked the worst part of his job. I couldn't agree more. I can't begin to express how happy I am to see that wet and dreary month in the rear view mirror. Spring is around the corner (yes, even Los Angeles has a spring, if an ill-defined one). The sound of wood on horsehide is echoing around Arizona and Florida, college basketball is fixin' to get Mad.

Since I've given up on the NBA (for those of you scoring at home, that would be around 1994), the Niners have given up the pretense of being a viable professional football team and the NHL has given up on itself, it's been a long wait for some meaningful sports news. You could argue that the annual "everything is wonderful and so and so is really gonna turn some heads this year" tales out of Spring Training are less than meaningful, but I'm happy to find them in my inbox every morning. Spring and baseball are, to me, re-birth.

Now, this winter I did have a nice companion to get me through. Call it my poker cocoon. And it is just that. Nearly all-consumming. I'm not sure how the hell this all happened.

Which is not a complaint. Poker is exactly the sort of thing I need right now. A lot of life changes last year: moving into our first house, leaving friends and neighbors behind, a new career for the Mrs., the gradual ending of my soccer playing. It's great to have poker to fill that entertainment/competitive void. I've always had an outlet for that. I've played soccer for 30 years. I played some adult baseball for six. And felt the same way about those games as I do poker. I want to win. I want to improve. I want to play the game the right way.

So it was a natural fit for me. Yet, a year ago (hell, eight months ago), I'd never played a single hand of Texas Hold 'Em in my life. Now I'm calculating pot odds in my dreams. It's an amazing thing, that this game has become so important to me in so short of time. Some of it has to do with gambling. I've always enjoyed that. But a lot has to do with that thirst for knowledge, the myriad questions that arise after a session. Did I play that right? How else could I have played it? What was that guy thinking?!?!?!

It's akin to an intrigue, a mystery, that my curiosity wants to solve. Am I "in it" to "win it?" Of course. I'm guessing I wouldn't be quite as taken with the game if I lost all the time. But the related issue is improvement. That is the ultimate goal. Naturally, profit should follow, or go hand in hand, with raising your level of play. But a win is fleeting. It's very often followed by a loss. Playing consistently at a high level of expertise, that is an accomplishment. That is something to strive for. That is what gets you to the final table.


That kinda got away from me. It's why I could never write a novel. I start off in one direction and end up elsewhere. My brain is a jumbled telephone cord of tangents. I'm gonna blame it on not playing poker last night.

Anyway, I like winning. As much as I enjoy that part, I like knowing I played well just as much. I get over bad beats much quicker than when I play like a jackass.

So, here's hoping March brings less jackassery and more rabbits.


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