29 September 2005

lost and gone forever

i've totally become obsessed with this Lost show now that Netflix has sent me the first season on DVD. josh and i have watched 12 episodes in the span of 2 days. it's kind of sad, really.

anyway, here's an essay i just wrote. enjoy...

Folding Aces
an essay

There’s an ongoing debate in the poker community regarding potential situations where you might fold a pair of Aces pre-flop. I won’t bore you with the details, but it boils down to determining if winning the hand hurts your chances of winning the tournament. That is, does potential short-term success actually hurt you in the long run? It does, but rarely.
It’s so rare, in fact, that few people recognize it as it’s happening. Your average player either has no idea such a thing can even exist or thinks the whole idea is ludicrous. The one time I had this come up I noticed a split second after all my chips had gone in the middle. Thirty seconds later it was over.
It was an expensive mistake.
Several years ago, back before I became a degenerate gambler, I started hanging out with this poet I met downtown. Nothing really happened because I moved away before I could work up the courage to express my feelings, but based on our phone conversations in the weeks following, I’m sure something would have. The potential for it to turn into something good was just too high. After a while, though, the distance became too big of an obstacle and everything just fizzled.
Of my numerous mistakes, this is the one I regret the most.
Between then and now, contact has come in waves, and each new wave brings promise. It’s entirely possible, though, that all that hope exists solely in my head.
I’m sure of it, actually. I realize now that I’ve been borderline delusional this whole time.
One of my many character flaws is that I find very few people interesting and fewer still hold any real intrigue, so naturally I have trouble meeting people I like and/or find attractive. I’ve dated very few people in my lifetime and probably only liked about half of them. It’s a pathetically shallow statistic and I’m by no means proud of it. An extension of that flaw is that I tend to have trouble getting over the few people I’ve genuinely liked. Large portions of my writing output is a cathartic attempt to move past that. Sometimes it even works.
It hasn’t this time, because months--nay, years--after the fact I’ve made little to no progress. I feel like that eternal Woody Allen character who after fifteen years of analysis is still rehashing the same issues. And why is that? They say the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else, but it hasn’t worked yet. And miles and miles of distance didn’t help either. What can you do when a storefront display in Little Rock reminds you of someone you haven’t seen in two years? Maybe it’s because I haven’t written a 300-page volume about it. Maybe that’s the only way I can deal with something like this. The thing is, I don’t know that I have another one of those in me, and I certainly don’t have the time to write it.
That brings me back to folding Aces. They don’t win every time, but they’re the best chance you’ll ever get, and in a game this unpredictable, that’s all you can really ask for.
So why would you ever fold them, knowing you’ll probably win? Well, essentially the rest of the table takes them out of play and creates a scenario where they do more damage than they do good. They ruin your chances for the rest of the tournament, so you toss them, but it’s always a little painful. Still, you have to move on. There are other hands to play and other pots to win. It’s just that none of them have that same potential, so even if folding is the right play, you’ll always wonder what might have been.
But at least you’ll still be in the game.
And sometimes that’s better than Aces.

-- Pittsburgh, 2005