Tag Archives: Poker

Possibility

Inspiration often comes from the weirdest places. Tonight was a night like a lot of other nights. I was surfing the web when I heard a clap of thunder. Considering how much money I spent on my PC, I saved what I was watching (h3 interviewing Jordan Peterson) to come back to later, shut down my PC, and unplugged it. What to do now? Well, I’m a little hungry. Let’s go to Subway, like I normally do.

I stepped outside, and thought about the thunderstorm. What if I get hit by lightning? You know, many of the people who get hit by lightning are those that least expect it. Who “don’t see it coming”. As soon as I’m comfortable and confident enough to go to my car is when I’m going to get hit by lightning. So I stood there, just outside my door. Do I really want to go to Subway anyway? Am I really that hungry? What are my other options? I could read. But I’m really into what I was going before the storm came. Let’s just go to Subway and see if the storm passes by the time I get back home. I’ll eat inside (as I normally do, anyway) to kill more time, then come back home, plug my computer back up, and get back to watching videos.

And as I stood outside my door, something hit me, quite like a metaphorical bolt of lightning. I finally thought of the words to really describe something about myself that I found quite interesting. I thought of the word “possibility”. I realized that I am a man of “possibility”. There was a “possibility” that I could’ve been hit by lightning. There’s a possibility I could be bitten by a poisonous spider. But my thinking of “possibilities” aren’t all negative. For instance, there is a “possibility” that I could make money from Youtube. There is a “possibility” that I could write something that people enjoy. These possibilities motivate me at least as much, if not more than the negative possibilities.

I also realized this back when I used to play poker. It was rarely for any actual money (that’s a good thing. It’s rather humorous to think that one of the only times that I did play poker for money was in, I believe, 8th grade. I brought the cards, and we were gambling our dimes and quarters of our lunch money. We were finally caught one time, but nothing major came of it. The teacher just, a little frantically, told us to “put that up”. Funny to think of that reaction. I typically ignored “the authorities” (not necessarily cops, but just anyone “in charge” of me) so her horror of our gambling didn’t really affect me. I didn’t see any harm in it, and still don’t).

Poker is a game of probabilities. The least “likely” hands are the “strongest”. There’s certain likelihoods that specific things have taken place. You consider the “unlikelihood” of your own hand, and consider if, whether or not, your hand is “less likely” than your opponent’s. Then, you wager as much “money” (“real” or “fake”) as you think he will also wager. The “unlikeliest” hand wins all of the money: “the pot”.

I became interested in poker because of the “World Series of Poker” on ESPN (which I used to watch religiously). Many people were sitting at tables, playing Texas Hold ‘Em. I was watching ESPN all of the time. Watching football highlights, baseball highlights, and I was starting to get into both basketball and ice hockey. Poker came on, and I was intrigued. I couldn’t stop watching. It was fascinating to me. Hearing the clicks of the chips. The amount of money being bet. It was fantastic.

I tried to learn how the “odds” worked. I don’t particularly care to do math in my head. Paper and calculations are easier and more satisfactory. But one thing has always bothered me about “probabilities”. They aren’t exact. If you have a 35% chance of winning, then you only (yes, I’m using that word) have a 65% chance of losing. So what should you do? Should you always play by the numbers? I have decided “no”. For one, I don’t care about calculating the numbers that much, and, secondly, they aren’t exact. That isn’t very fun to me. Learning the numbers to play by them all of the time isn’t fun to me.

Now, of course, it wasn’t that I was completely against “odds”. I wouldn’t calculate into percentages, but I would still try to determine if my hand was stronger than my opponent’s. I have two pair. Do I really think he has a flush? Do I really think he has a straight? How is he betting? My decisions were not necessarily based on the percentage probability that my opponent had a stronger hand than I had. It was, mainly, based on the strength of my own hand, how my opponent was betting, reading body language (while doing my best to not give anything away by remaining absolutely motionless (which I was pretty good at)), and trying to play mind games with him. It wasn’t that I didn’t think about, say, how many diamonds were left in the deck. But that wasn’t the main factor behind my decision-making process. Only one factor. And other factors were, most of the time, more influential.

You win some, you lose some. A lot of it depends upon who you’re up against. I could’ve “hedged my bets” a little more, but I didn’t want to. I played for a different reason than most. Some things never change…

I’m sure if a “professional” poker player reads this, they’ll cringe. But I’m not a “professional” poker player. I played for fun, the way that I wanted to play. And I played on possibility. These last two sentences are my life motivations.

Any time that I decide to write, I have a temptation to want to address counterpoints. I don’t think there is anything “wrong” with this. In fact, I think it’s a very good thing to do. Attempting to strengthen arguments is a good thing to do. But, too often, I find myself angry, and attempting to justify myself “against the world”. I don’t really think I have much of a choice. Anyone who wishes to do anything outside of the “norm” will receive “advice” that amounts to “Nah, don’t try that. It’s really hard. Do something more ‘normal’.” I can’t take that boring advice. And why should I? Why should odds keep me from playing the poker game and enjoying it? Why should I sit at the table, miserable, and expecting to lose, instead of sitting at the table happy, and expecting to win? If it doesn’t matter to me how much money I lose, then why should I care, as long as I’m enjoying myself? And if you’re so afraid of losing money, why are you even sitting down at the table to begin with? Why are you even in the casino, observing me play poker? If you’re terrified of losing money, why are you even in the gambling building? You can’t watch me play IF YOU AREN’T IN THE BUILDING. I need to treat you as outside of the casino. I can’t hear you, and you can’t ruin my fun… (“Or save you!”, they incessantly add).

I prefer risk to boredom. Not to such an extent that I crave to “defy death”. But my “excitement” is writing, and trying to get people to pay attention to me, mainly through laughing at me, and dreaming of making people laughing at me a full-time job. That’s as “risky” as I get. I’m not getting drunk and driving 140 mph, like many of those who try to give me advice have done in the past. I’m just trying to get people to laugh at me. It’s really not as serious as the “risky” things that these “advice-givers” have done. So I’d appreciate it if they would shut the fuck up, to be frank. I could not give less of a fuck about any “odds”.

I accept that there are different types of people in the world. Some more risk-averse than others. The ways that people make decisions are varied. I fully accept that not everyone will live the way that I want to live, nor would they want to. I fully accept that. But I also accept that I am not going to be happy unless I take control of my personal life. I will not be happy unless this control factors in my nature, which includes my desire to express myself, and my desire to make myself laugh. I will not be happy unless this control factors in my imagination, and my dreams. I will not be happy if this control becomes like people who aren’t me. I will not be happy if this control does not come from me: if it does not feel like it is mine.

Because I am anticipating the “advice-givers”, I will throw them that obvious bone that they salivate after, and say “Yes, I must accept responsibility for my actions.” But I don’t understand why these “advice-givers” are more focused on my life than theirs. Are they so “risk-averse” that they run on autopilot, with no tough decisions to ever make, so they have plenty of time and energy to criticize others? Maybe you need to try something more difficult. Maybe you need a more strenuous hobby. Maybe you need to mind your own business?

No, all I need is a possibility and passion. That’s what I want. I think I can get by with that. Those two motivating factors will help me improve upon what it is that I am doing. Life is unbearably monotonous when you’re full of dread. If you don’t have anything to look forward to, and instead, ceaselessly focus on your job, and your bills, life becomes very dark. Even a man who hates his job and is in debt can look forward to that six-pack of beer when he gets home. Maybe that’s what gets him through life, and his day. Everybody’s got their “thing” that gets them through life. And these “things” are as diverse as the people who use them. Passion, for me, is the only thing that makes unavoidable monotony even the least bit bearable. And I have decided that I will not suffer, and try to live without it, for any reason: particularly to satisfy “advice-givers”.

I know that not all “advice-givers” are trying to be dissuasive. Some of them are trying to be “persuasive”. “Cody, I’m fine with you having this goal. But here’s how you can achieve it better. Just do all of these things, and stop doing all of these things that you’re actually doing, and then, you probably won’t get there, but I accept that you aren’t going to stop doing it, so here’s the best advice that I can give you.” No. My life isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey. I’ve got a “dream” destination. But even if I don’t get there, that’s the journey I’m going to take, and I’m going to fucking enjoy it.

Enjoy your almost unbearable misery. Maybe we’ll see each other on the other side, and then, maybe, we’ll relate to each other a little more. And maybe you won’t be as miserable as you are now.

And, of course, I should also add that having a “hyper” sense of humor as I have makes this journey a helluva lot easier. I try to find humor in everything (because that’s my nature, and also, because boredom is constant with me). I want to keep developing my sense of humor. And having a sense of humor is a great way to deal with the “advice-givers”, whether they be “haters” or “justified”. Maniacally laughing to myself, just to confuse them, makes it all all-the-more worthwhile.

And, I suppose, I will conclude with the obvious message that the unlikeliest events are the strongest, most powerful ones, when they happen: whether those “events” are positive or negative. I suppose you could’ve been smart enough to draw that connection yourself, but I decided to bash you over the head with it, anyway. Let’s call it “payback”. Besides: I need to start learning to write more words, anyway. Even if they’re garbage. But that’s a tale for another time…

I could also do the same thing, beating you over the head, and say “I’ve already made it clear to you that anxiety is part of my ‘possibility’ philosophy, as evidenced by the very beginning of this. Don’t you think I’ve considered the ‘possibility’ that everything I’m working toward will be nothing, and that I’ll regret all of this? Do you really think I haven’t considered that possibility? Do you really think I’m that ignorant, ye of little faith? Do you think that I haven’t considered that at all? Or is it possible that I have considered this, and yet, for some reason that you don’t seem to understand, have still decided that it is worthwhile to pursue?”

“Cody, when are you going to stop writing about ‘possibility’? When are you going to start creating work that is actually substantial?” So naive……

“Are you saying that this piece of shit you’ve just written here is substantial?” (starts laughing)

No response.

“Wow, he actually does!” (more laughter)

No response.

Let them think what they wish.

The truth exists within the heart.

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Aspects of competition that I love, hate, and why

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Baseball: I love baseball because my dad let me play when I was younger. I didn’t understand any of the rules or strategy until I was much older, but catching the ball was always exciting to me. Feeling the ball pop in your glove from a pop-fly or making a diving catch or having to run a long way for the ball was always exciting. I liked being at bat because patience was rewarded, and I liked getting walked. It took me a long time to get the gist of hitting, but I had a few really good hits in my career (I’m not claiming to be good by ANY means lol) but the few solid hits that I got were worth my playing career even if I wasn’t as good as my dad was when he played or even my brother. Throwing was always my weakest part, as I didn’t have the confidence in my arm to throw it where I wanted to. I only hind-caught at one practice of my brother’s and I loved every second of it. As I got older, I enjoyed the pitching aspect a lot more, watching people’s windups and the mental aspect of the game as to what pitch to throw and where. I also love seeing teams that are bad because I want to know why they are so bad. In my later years, the camaraderie of the team was something that was irreplaceable. A bunch of guys that you have never been with and friends that were your friends were life coming to play ball was the best part. Goofing off in the dugout while you’re getting blown out were fun times. Everyone was there to have fun and it was great. I wouldn’t trade that for being drafted in the MLB. The only thing that ruined it were a couple of coaches that took the game too seriously, but the camaraderie was just amazing. I hated it when we had to go back out on the field (for a while at least) because the dugout camaraderie was so fun. I hated playing the outfield because people always yelled at you, but as I got older, I loved running after the ball. It was so fun, even in practice. But I hated throwing the ball into the cutoff man. I got to play shortstop one game after someone didn’t show up and I made a diving catch and a throw to second I think to start a double play and that was one of my defensive highlights. I just reacted and didn’t think I could do it lol I hated running the bases though. I was too aggressive for the speed that I had lol I hated a couple of my coaches, too. But a couple of solid hits that I got to right-field a couple of times were exhilarating. I got hit in the chest one time by a line-drive at third base one time at practice, so that was crazy. But I didn’t really think much of it. I couldn’t stand running the bases at practice, though.

Football: The main reason I loved football is because my dad would watch it all the time. I started out circling different names on a piece of paper as a kid that were apparently football teams and it turns out I was selecting who I thought would win, but I enjoyed watching comebacks before I knew any of the rules or strategy. It started out as a bonding experience with my dad, but when I got to school I got ridiculed a lot so I kind of turned against it. I really enjoyed watching the deep passes and catches and I would watch NFL classics all the time. I’ve always enjoyed them for some reason that I’ve never understood. I don’t really care about the big hits, but I love watching quarterbacks throw pretty passes. I would go in the backyard and throw a football all the time pretending I was getting pressured and throwing a perfect pass. I never got to play in any leagues, though. I also enjoyed how excited everyone was who watched the NFL. The weather games are also one of my favorite parts of the game, and I love watching terrible teams play for some reason. I guess I just like to know how a team can be so bad. It’s extremely fascinating. I love running after a pass and trying to catch a throw, but I’d hate wearing all of those pads. I wore a helmet one time and tried to pat myself on the head to see what it felt like and it was too loud for me. I’ve always had sensitive ears and had a lot of problems with them as a kid.

Basketball: Oh, basketball. My first true love. When I first started playing, I just ran around and when someone came into the paint, try to stop them and I usually fouled them. At first, I was afraid of fouls because I knew you could “foul out” and my main goal was to not do that. If I did that, I thought I had won. I usually played forward and my coaches had said “stay between this line and here”, so I just did that over and over. I don’t remember when it happened, but I finally got aggressive and played the center position and scored a lot of points in the paint off of the backboard and guarded anyone who came into the paint as hard as I could and tried to start fast breaks, but I almost always turned the ball over when I did that. I couldn’t handle the ball (I wasn’t confident back then) so I usually just passed it to the ball-handlers on the team. Basketball provided some of the greatest highlights of my playing career. I hit an off-balance three pointer (I think the first I had ever made. I had attempted some before, maybe two or three, but missed them) to either tie or win a game late. I think I saved a ball that was heading out of bounds in the corner or I got passed the ball near the top of the key and tried to dribble open but couldn’t and had to shoot a fade-away shot in the corner as the buzzer sounded. Another highlight though that I’m most proud of (as the shot was mainly luck) was a defensive play I made a couple of years before that. Our team had just hit a basket to put us ahead and everyone on my team was pressing as the clock was winding down. I saw one of their players bolt towards their open net and there was no one back defending a potential open lay-up. So I sprinted as hard as I could and the in- bounder tried to chuck the ball to him. I jumped and tipped the ball away as the buzzer sounded and the whole gym erupted. I was almost deaf. We were playing at home and I was so fucking excited. All of the parents were cheering me and my mom was SO proud of me. When I got to Jr. High, we played basketball almost everyday and that is where my appreciation of the game really blossomed. I really started to develop a good shot. When I was in about ninth or maybe tenth grade, I would go in the backyard and shoot every shot imaginable for hours. I would go to the school or stay in the backyard and sometimes shoot from about 4:30 in the afternoon until almost 10 o’ clock at night: sometimes much later. One of my coaches taught me about the physical nature of basketball, and that was another pivotal moment for me. Before that, I had just guarded whomever came into the paint with the fear of fouling them (by the way, back then I was never confident at free throws and never understood fouls) and I never understood what constituted a travel (got called for a lot of those), but one of my coaches taught me how to be physical. There were only two players, maybe three or four and practice that day. My coach was teaching rebounding, and I was only getting the ball when it was coming right to me. That’s what I thought I was supposed to do. But my coach said “Go get that ball. That ball is yours.” So I went after it. Then he blocked me out (I didn’t know what it was called at the time), and he said “Get around me. That’s still your ball.” So I tried to get around him and I realized that contact was ok. I finally started boxing people out and that was the first time that I had ever gotten aggressive in the paint. That was MY paint and I was going to defend it at all costs, regardless of whether or not I fouled out (and I fouled out several times) and I called for the ball in the paint and hit a lot of bankers. I got fouled quite a bit but my free throw shooting was poor as the pressure got to me most of the time. I finally started getting confident after getting my ass kicked in high-school consistently. I was tired of not handling the ball or getting rebounds and it pissed me off so bad that I kept playing and kept playing because I knew no one thought I could play, and that has fueled me to this day and has developed my passion for the game. Now I can dribble, rebound, and shoot better than I ever could and my knowledge of the game has skyrocketed about the rules and strategy, and it’s a passion that I’m going to take with me up until my deathbed. Coaching is fun and the mental aspect of the game is just as fun as the physical aspect. Trying to get open, hitting teammates, guarding people. The whole game is just a beautiful game, and I thank Jerry Naismith greatly for it.

Ice hockey: I love ice hockey because it’s so foreign. I like different things and, being from the South, ice hockey is EXTREMELY foreign. I love the sounds that it makes (the skating, the slap-shots, the players hitting the boards) and the hockey sticks remind me of eating popsicles and the wooden sticks that they were always frozen on. I like the “kuh” sound that you hear a lot from the game and the sounds are just appealing to me for some reason, and the beautifully orchestrated skating that is interrupted by the violent hits is appealing to me. Football is too regimented for me: I like the freedom that ice hockey provides. Plus I think it would be cool to play a sport in a cold venue.

Golf: I always wanted to play golf. It’s fun because of the judgment you have to use to time your shots just right and I like the way it feels when you swing a golf club.

Poker: I love the psychology that goes on in a poker hand. Bluffing, reading your opponent and determining how much to bet are my FAVORITE parts. I don’t really care about the strengths of the hands.

Auto racing: I hated racing cars myself, but my friend has turned me on to racing. I don’t like it when people try to get me to conform to something, and I always felt like cars were one of those things. I would rather be learning math than fixing a car (or fixing anything mechanical, for that matter. I always thought of it as a chore and never fun), but if I can learn things at my own pace without other people telling me what to do, I enjoy it a lot more). I hated driving go-carts because they were too loud and powerful for my sensitive brain, and I always floored it and got scared so I could never control it. That’s why, to this day, I still hate controlling vehicles. I loved riding in the go-cart with my uncle when I was a kid though. It was so fun.

Soccer: Soccer was always my favorite sport to play before I really got into basketball. It was fun to run around and try to kick the ball. I loved making sliding plays to kick the ball away from someone else, and it was fun to be on the sideline as well. I just loved hanging out with everybody. I enjoyed light-hearted practices, where no one was any good but we all tried, and I hated coaches that took it seriously and wanted to win and ran us to death. But kicking the ball was always fun. I got to play goalie one year and I was pretty decent at it. It was all just reactions, really. One year when I was wearing glasses, it was pouring rain while we were playing and my glasses were fogged up and I got hit right in the face with a shot and it bent my glasses but at least I could see lol (long story). I hated running up the hill at Nebo every practice to the point of exhaustion. That was pointless to me. That wasn’t why I was playing soccer. I wasn’t playing to get better, I was playing to have fun and that season was no fun at ALL.

August 18, 2012.

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