I’m driving home through the dense, tufted fog with a crease so deep in my forehead that it is threatening to dislodge my eyeballs. After making one mistake all night and nearly bringing home 200 life sustaining bbs, without coolering anyone and playing extremely well, I lose almost all of it versus a breakeven bingoer who flopped the joint.
She played it remarkably well against a player of my type, letting me check raise into top set and just flatting me. It’s frustrating because I know it wasn’t actually a strategic play- that’s just what she does between runs at the table games. Earlier she makes a miserable overcall with an offsuit gapper against my 9x isolation, smashes it, can’t bet it, angles for a showdown, and takes the pot when I recognize her range should be strong and disregard the bluff card on the end.
I have lost more money than I have won with sets this season, yet it must seem delicious to her that you flat a premium, make a hand, and people just give you their stack. I took the perfect line to fold out nearly all her range and I still had significant equity as a backup.
At the end of the session an orbit later, while gathering my measly profit, she flashes me a strange look I have not seen in a long time, maybe since that aspiring grinder pulled me aside at TI so very long, long ago. It’s the nice playing with you, hope you enjoyed yourself and want to try this game again, your money is always good here expression.
This would cause me a wry contortion of feelings normally, but tonight I’m not amused. As much as I have resisted the label of professional poker player, I realize, looking out into the gloom, that my pride is hurt. I do this well, and you, who does it worse, are shitting all over me. My point about poker as a way of life, back in that thread a ways ago, has been made: an hourly is just the price of admission, not the measure of the woman, as Shaw famously formulated it (or the man, in this case)- but not in the way I ever expected it to be made, nor so unhappily.
I remember a moment a long time ago, before I even had touched a casino chip or knew what a flush was, when I was working for my last employer. He was in a tough spot, and the heads of the organization had gathered. As a public relations maneuver, I suggested a reasonable course of action in language that did not respect the gravity of the situation. He fumed and yelled at me, the only time in a decade of close work together. His assistant pulled me aside later, and told me that even if I was right, I had hurt the pride of a man who had dedicated his whole life to his cause.
I see myself in him at this moment.
You don’t want me on your back at the poker table. I pay attention to the most microscopic things and can exploit imbalance and physical tells to painful effect, but I have to be roused to action first; otherwise I just play the basic math like anyone else. I’m looking for the easy money. I don’t want to do something amazing at a nine handed game, why should I?
While the blighted consumers piss all over Christmas with their emasculated love of material possessions and the echo of love they garner, I see I have found something new that I am going to break and crush for that same trickle of dark, zero-sum happiness. When you see two fools pulling at opposite ends of a discounted doodad, do you not want both punished?
Such is the power of commitment and all-objective justice that is at the heart of the subjective, lone being, and the explanation for all the wounds of the foolish poker player and, more importantly, anyone truly dedicated to their cause.