Thursday, July 08, 2004

2,598,960 possibilities

Another name for this blog (though I'm leaning heavily towards keeping "Tits and Cowboys" even though my dad thinks its too racy -- to which I replied, who do you think you're dealing with? I know you read my novella. On the other hand, my mom loves the name.) has been suggested to me by the book I'm reading, the excellent Big Deal by Anthony Holden, which recounts his adventures on trying to be a professional poker player for a year. How I wish I had the money to try that! So if anyone out there wants to set me up with a bankroll, let me know.

In Chaper 4, he writes, expanding on the thought that there are 2,598,960 possible 5-card poker hands from a standard 52-card deck:

You could say that there are 2,598,960 possible permutations of each of us, which we marshal according to current demands or needs. There is nothing too reprehensible about this. Humankind, as the poet said, cannot bear very much reality. Men and women do not have to be overtly competitive to regard life as a complex adult game, whose rules are there to to be bent or even broken.

A few pages later, he quotes A. Alvarez:

What applied so cogently to money in a poker pot applied equally to the feelings I had invested in my disastrous personal affairs: "Do the odds favour my playing regardless of what I have already contributed?" I knew the answer. The only puzzle was why I should have discovered it not in Shakespear or Donne or Eliot or Lawrence or any of my other literary heroes...

I love both these quotes, but the latter succintly expresses something I've often thought over the past six months -- if only I had started playing poker earlier, I might have gotten out of my doomed engagement/relationship earlier. One of the first ideas I had for my book about poker was something along the lines of what poker taught me about love and relationships.

I honestly believe that one of the best things I've learned from poker is not to throw good money after bad. One thing you have to learn is to not think of the money you've already thrown into the pot as an investment. No matter how many chips you've tossed into the pot (or years into the relationship), that money is no longer yours. It's gone and will go to the winner. If you think you're beat, get out. It's not a matter of pride, it's a matter of knowing when you're beat and saving yourself needless loss.

But that's easier said than done, of course.
(c) Toby Leah Bochan