Fortune’s Nod, Fear’s Chuckle

A short story from the a collection of nonfiction:
“Fortune’s Smile: World Series of Poker”
by James McManus

McManus puts forth a romantic version of poker that we all love. But the reality of poker is that it’s gambling. It’s luck. Skill will increase your probability of winning enough to make a profit (maybe even a living) playing the game, but it does not ensure that great ability will lead to tournament hardware. Imagine if quantum mechanics applied on the scale of the golf ball, Tiger Woods would miss the ball completely some percent of the time. Sure he would still do a lot better than the average player, but on any given day, you couldn’t say if he finishes first or last.

It feels great when you win, and horrible when you lose, but somehow the conclusion one ought to draw from the losses are never arrived at…

This is why I avoid the game, but I love to watch others put their well-being (financial and psychological) on the line. The whole thing has the same absurd mix of optimism and pessimism that life has for an introspective person. There’s hope, there’s fear, there’s the delusional rationalization for trying again and again and again.

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