Go check out the SI special on poker. I particularly love the guy who has lost a hundred grand. Where does a college student get a hundred grand? While this one character is the least sympathetic in the story, it’s because he’s a gambling addict. Blackjack, horse racing, and poker, he’ll bet it all, and he’s either lying or got some infinite source of funds that in fact he can lose. Mr. Glass, anyone?
The article drove me to ponder the question, "Why do you play
poker?" that’s been turning over in my mind for quite a while now.
This is a question I ask myself over and over again, and the answer
guides me in my decisions about how I spend my poker hobby time.
I primarily play poker for the competitive aspect. I like the
competition, and I want to be better so I can outsmart other players.
(that part is ego, of course) The money involved is just about
keeping score in a universally agreed upon manner. Frankly, I could
play golf and bet on that, and that would still allow me the same
reward, I suppose.
Knowing why I play poker is helpful when people suggest that I go
play at a crappy site because I can get a bonus for playing there, such
as those sites identified by the bonus chasing site BonusWhores.com.
Frankly, sitting and playing a required number of hands seems like the
kind of grind that is more about the money than about getting better at
poker. Grinding out $3 / hour working off a bonus on a crappy site
that doesn’t let me analyze the data isn’t improving my poker skills.
The same can be said of looking for and playing in soft games where
the players don’t know enough. I focus primarily on limit poker, while
my colleague Bradley focuses on no limit. He’s urged me to play no limit because, as he says, "These games are juicy".
I frankly don’t see the hurry. People will always be learning
poker, and my priority is learning how to play well over crushing games
to relieve the fish of their cash. Were I trying to pay my rent this
way, my answer would be different. But thankfully, I am not.
And that brings me back to why I play poker: because it’s something
infinitely complex that requires study and learning. As you get older
you tend to get a little egotistical, like you’ve got it all figured
out. It’s nice to have a puzzle that requires you to constantly look
at it, to figure out its secrets, and poker, and the poker players you
play against, are all little puzzles.
Shuffle up and deal.