I had a daydream today, an interesting visualization that I wanted to explore. Im not much into card games but enjoy the dichotomy of personalities at any given table and the complexities behind the game.
“Poker may be a branch of psychological warfare, an art form or indeed a way of life – but it is also merely a game, in which money is simply the means of keeping score.” (Anthony Holden)
There is a group of friends sitting at a Poker table, cards in hand. Each carefully investigating what the other players are planning. Slyly looking up from their cards to see the looks on their opponents faces. Watching how they shift in their seats. Thick, heavy air makes this night suffocating.
This group of people were randomly selected to participate in this Poker league many years ago. They have never left the league. It has created a bond of friendship. Outside this table they generally would not connect for their personalities are too different to 'play nice' all the time.
The Card Sharks: They have been playing Poker for years. They know the ins and outs of this game. They play with a Colombo mindset, as if this is their first rodeo but in fact they have done this many times. They are humble about their talents and hide in the shadows. When they win they quickly get up from the table with their prize and hide back in the dark. From the shadows they watch the despair at the table as people pick up whatever is left and leave defeated or challenge others, accusing their friends of cheating. “I’ll share my cards if you share yours” mentality. After they see the “friends”/opponents cards they strike, even with the same exact hand.
Novice Players: They play to get better and they like to participate with this particular group. They know the stakes are high but they play as fair as possible and take in as much as they can. They generally lose but they learn each time. They have some decent moves but really they don’t have enough to put in the pot to play for keeps. They fold fast but stay and watch, taking notes. Others at the table do not feel threatened by them because they don't have enough to play big. They will keep track of each move and others will trust them enough to show them their cards because they know that nothing will come of it.
"Poker Masters": those who aren’t very good at the game but have convinced themselves that they are Poker Masters. They enjoy the game profusely and brag loudly about their mild wins. They are too proud and arrogant to know when to hold ‘em or fold ‘em. They always play till they have nothing left. Always embarrassed by losing they resort to accusations to hold up their pride. They play to win, it’s not about the prize. Bragging rights. They love the game and will attend every gathering possible to try their odds. They play poker with multiple groups. A love of the game.
The Duds: who really do not know how to play poker. They think they know the game but from every game played before it is clear that they don’t “get it”. If they have ever won it is out of pure luck. When they play they are playing for keeps but make a lot of novice mistakes. It seems that they play with their heart more than their head. They do not play smart. They seem to enjoy the game but play because they need to win. They never just want to win.
The Bored: hate poker, they don’t care about the prize, the people, they just show up out of boredom. They never win because they don’t try. It’s suspected that they would try if the prize was alluring to them. They are a part of the group but rarely attend the gatherings. Doesn’t seem to be their thing.
The game begins. The stakes are high. Shifting, watching, and evaluating their hands. Each card flipped adds noticeable tension at the table. Each player shows discomfort as their neighbor produces their respective hand. Silence. Listening for the pin to drop. It sounds like a hammer. With each card laid on the table it feels like a knife in the back. Flush face. Panic. Uncertain outcome. Winner is nervous as the table stirs.
"The strong point in poker is never to lose your temper, either with those you are playing with or, more particularly, with the cards. There is no sympathy in poker. Always keep cool. If you lose your head you will lose all your chips." (William J. Florence)
This round is over but, as always, they intend to play again. They are, after all, friends and the chips never left the table.