I had earned a break from an intense week, so I met up with d’Artagnan, who had announced his retirement again from poker. Over sloppy "Blackberry" Cider and the embarrassing ballast of chili cheese fries, we talked movies (the place of Vincent Gallo's Buffalo 66 in American cinema), politics (super delegates, the composition of the two major parties, and how to guess party affiliations), as well as his recent accomplishment in an exclusive, raked game deep in the buttwaters of the backwaters.
D’Artagnan often prefers to play the clown on the table, and he can do this socially as well. Our civilian life bleeds into our battles on the felt, and vice versa, of course. However, the degenerate gambler personality he projects slips away at certain moments, especially late at night when energies wear. Sometimes he seems to enjoy the game more than any of us, projecting sunniness and love of life. D’Artagnan carries his peculiar education and life experience lightly, not speaking of what he knows or really cares about. It’s the mark of a good person (and very unlike your unhumble and impertinent blogging servant, an awful human being on the whole). He also carries the juggling act of conversation easily, turning up the babble dial deliberately. Interesting to me, D’Artagnan seems to have had a self-education in cinema equivalent in hours, if not in the same genres, to my own. Though we don’t agree on much, he’s clearly sacrificed and forgotten himself before the screen, soaking up the details of the versatile art form. (Buffalo 66 is a great, movie, however, sorry you're so wrong bro.)
Moreover, there is something cordial and distant about d’Artagnan that is easily missed. Sometimes, he reminds me not so much of his namesake (after all, it’s impossible to square all of the Coven with the Musketeers, other than myself being Athos. I wish I could give up my now entrenched handle). There is an almost French or German air about him when he's not being ridiculous, currently heightened by his 1910 hairstyle and wispy Private’s moustache, as if he were the forgotten child of a large Catholic family about to be sent off to a career he had no choice in. He occasionally give off signs of having had a slightly formal upbringing – it might merely be the sense of privacy covered by his absurdity - and has taken only a few lessons from his parents because they didn’t have too much time with him. I can imagine him with a cigarette on his lips, about to enroll in the armed services, not particularly concerned with living or dying but with a few important things on his mind that he won’t explain to anyone.
I don’t want to overstate things. It’s not all an act. While we poke at the gluttonous fries and gulp down the children's alcohol, I extracted from him details of his latest dustoff. Perhaps you, cunning poker reader, can benefit and possibly find the flaws in his session.
Quick Tips from D’Artagnan on How to Drop 1000 bbs
- Go to home game full of top local players disguised as wacky "dealers" game.
- Sit to right of big game pro who has clearly come to play.
- Open blind and stack off for the first buy in.
- Back raise mid pair pre to 2/3 pot.
- Go with all draws until a better one comes up getting large overlay.
- Fold this one for balance and deception.
- Call 13x raise with from tilting fish with pro still to act behind you.
- Stack off with bottom pair with pro still behind. (This one seems especially effective.)
- Stay for the whole evening, even after all the recognized fish are bust.
- Oh, and bring 1000 bbs.
I had thought d'Artagnan was at least temporarily done with poker, before I had declined joining him on this near roadtrip distance game. He had told us he was done, and that his generous appearance would be the equivalent of Jack Nicklaus showing up at a charity event. (Back to ridiculousness, at least one thing true there.) That was before he quit the week before, when he had started again after a month before announcing quitting forever.
I understand the ambivalent nature of one’s relationship with this game which gives and takes so much. All this talk of quitting isn't irrelevant to me; moving on from poker has been on my own mind for a month, although I can’t exactly do it nor am certain I want to do it. I have been working through vital personal issues, which has slowed both my table hours and my blog production. I’ve often made the distinction between a true pro and the dabbling pro, who has something else waiting for him. With no particular future out there for me, my month of needed solitude and low hours has crippled my income. I've poured money into cigarettes, alcohol, and food to loosen the knot of anxiety; I've wept over all the women who loved me and whose love I needed but could not bear, sending us both away in mutual confusion. (As fearful as it was to leave the workforce and hit the tables full time, I am wondering if the far braver thing to do is to leave poker.) However, I see now that my opinion on the matter was mostly pointless. Just because there isn’t anything good out there for me, Persuadeo the line cook, Persuadeo the bartender, Persuadeo the mail clerk, is, in fact, another occupation occupied. There’s always something, in other words.
For many days, I didn’t even feel the need to post so much on Red Chip, where the quality of analysis has taken a steep positive climb. Who needs me and why the hell did I spend so much time on the small forum front for a paid training site? With a new wave of content from FilthyCasual (really a regrettably nasty combination of words), The Gabey Jesus, Austin, Eazzy, and many others, I don’t have the same impulse to step in.
D’Artagnan’s relationship to poker is not dissimilar to this ripple in my poker involvement. He’s an old school player who was in big games before I’d even heard of Hold’em, despite being much younger than me. The effort to get back into step is a daunting one, yet avoiding it holds his winrate back significantly. Is humility enough? What if it's not just poker, but needed for something far more important?
As I implied in my personal favorite blog post, I needed something to change, and am now, I think, on its precipice, whatever it is. Assuming I’m ready to go on, I’ll be taking it very, very seriously again, and will be using more analysis and analysis tools than before. There are one or two things I have to get out of the way. I could become a great hold’em player, if I can capture the desire. Even the flirting with retirement makes me feel like I’m slipping, making me uneasy.
In truth, D’Artagnan’s comments are too constant to be taken so seriously, but the matter is and always will be an interesting part of a poker player’s career. Poker is not, essentially, a productive act. It is entertainment and competition, and the soul wants, above all, creation. As for me, what I’m really hoping is that maybe I am about to enter a phase where I play more professionally, not caring. Clock in, clock out. I’m still a little too turned on by the action to have that pure card shark callousness. Or, maybe I don’t want even that, exactly.
I don’t know.
In any case, so it goes, as the wise man wrote. Unfortunately, the night, my only cover and constant companion, is not forever. Doubts will soon give way to dawn, and the cider spigot must be turned away. It’s late. I go to pay off the check. D’Artagnan, in an indescribably smooth transition, asks for me to front him $500.
“There’s a game I want to play in, almost forgot. Can’t miss my paycheck.”
Well. I decline, and we go off into the night on our very separate ways, having briefly crossed thanks only to this game that consumes us.