Poker is the most hyped game. Hold'em tournaments are on cable, and celebrities have their own reality poker show. At least one series about Casino poker airs weekly.
It sure is popular, however...
I recommend that you don't play poker as part of your Gangster Style adventure. The learning cycle is too long; the upswings and downturns can drive you crazy; and it's easy to misunderstand the how-to books.
Two reasons lead me to recommend against poker. First, I've had a difficult time with poker. It took more study, more patience, and more emotional strength than I expected.
Secondly, you have other exciting projects. Handicapping has similar thrills and allows you play at a leisurely pace. Billiards gets you moving, and gin can be played anywhere, anytime.
And no, I'm not saying you can't handle it. It's just that poker is a lot of work.
If you're cautious, put poker at the bottom of your list.
On the Other Hand...
It wouldn't be fair to hide poker's attractive side.
Poker is primitive.
Poker stirs grade school memories. It's about the dare to cut through the yard that had the one-eared dog; poker is about looking the playground bully in the eye and saying, "That's mine."
At the poker table, it's about taking on the creepy characters, the cowboy with the beady eyes, and the slicked back hair guy with the missing tooth. Poker is about using your wits to beat players who intimidate the heck out of you.
Poker is about gumption. It's like a snake hunt in the swamp but without the mud. Poker is pure adventure.
Not the Money
The excitement is not about the money. The $.50 game seems to stir the same reaction as the higher cash games. It's about the direct, across the table conflict with characters you want to beat.
That level of excitement certainly fits a Gangster Style endeavor.
How should we proceed? I still don't want to recommend poker.
It may be useful to examine several of my own poker problems. With the wisdom of hindsight, I'll discuss how I might have handled the situations differently.
Hopefully, these examples will help you decide how, or if, you want to proceed with poker.
The following list illustrates several of my poker problems and possible coping strategies. Obviously, the examples reflect my learning. Some of these will be easy for you, and new ones may arise. As you read through the poker books, you'll get a better sense of the big picture.
A. My Problem: Expectations
B. My Problem: Optimistic / Urge to Try Harder
C. My Problem: Patience
D. My Problem: Suspicious
E. My Problem: Bad Advice
F. My Problem: Seven Pounds
The list is pretty negative, but I believe my willingness to confront problems will allow me to succeed.
Ironically, it's my difficulties that taught me the most. They forced me to be honest about what happened. Shifting the blame to the cards, or other's lack of skill, didn't work. The problems showed how emotional stubbornness clouded and distorted my judgment. Strangely enough, my positive views, like optimism, were the worst troublesome.
These are lessons you can't find in a classroom. Was it worth it? Would I go down this path again? Absolutely.
You need to decide.
A Training Plan
In reality, you don't need to decide.
You can experiment with poker concepts and put off any yes/no decision. An extended exploration reduces decisions into smaller, better-informed assessments. If poker is going to work for you, it will become clear; if it doesn't fit your style, that will become clear also.
The Extended Seven Step Poker Plan
Don't get pulled into the compulsive side of poker.
Gangster Style adventures are about keeping your balance. Take your mate dancing; break out your sketchbook; outline a mystery. Spend a day at the track. Enjoy your new ventures.
Balance, adventure, and style that's the key.
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