Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bad Beat Stories

Nobody like hearing bad beat stories, they say, but that isn’t exactly true.

I love ‘em.

Everybody got stories, an old, fairly well known poker player told me in London years ago. Bad beat stories, the most incredible stories about luck gone awry. He did this while I was venting in his presence about the unlucky break life (and poker) had recently given me. And I realized he was right, that he was right beyond right. And since that moment I have never told a bad beat story, or at least not told it without a modicum of irony in my voice.

But I love listening to them. They have to be real bad beat stories, though, not merely a tiny shift of advantage during an all-in degree moment. In other words fifty-three/forty-seven is not, and should never be presented as a bad beat. Neither should 60/40 or such, and even aces being cracked all-in versus a single opponent with lower pairs. I’m talking a beyond bad Bad Beat here…

I find them interesting and also educational, both concerning poker and the concept of Chance itself. A pattern is eventually and inevitably emerging. It always is.

We’re striving to beat the odds, or to make them work for us. We always are. What would otherwise be the point of living? In my fairly recent enlightenment people ranting about their misfortune, doing their attempt at evoking pity, are shying away from the Great Game, from Life. They fail to understand the obvious: that there is no luck, no Fate, no meaning, only Change, a random, totally unpredictable pattern of coincidences. You can lessen Chance’ impact, but you can never negate it, and you shouldn’t try. Without the spark of unpredictability life wouldn’t be… life.

Some players claim, to the point of turning blue that poker is mathematics, is predictability, that everything can be measured and weighed and calculated, but they would be wrong. That’s just yet another way of closing oneself off from life, from the true burning wheel of fortune. Throw the dice and you get anything from one to six and even beyond. Don’t throw it, and you don’t get anything, except your own, empty heart.