Friday, May 20, 2005

Bustin' Rocks

For a four day work week, this was one long ass week. And I have to give a big shout out to Cisco. Thanks a lot, asshats, for not getting around to shipping a replacement VPN server for my place o' employ, so that I can't telecommute on what would be an otherwise fine Friday morn. (Yeah, I know, it's hard to bitch about not getting to telecommute but hey, that's what I do.)

I think I'm actually going to have to go on a bit of a self-imposed poker hiatus. I'm way, way behind on some Web projects that I should have finished weeks months ago, and there's just no excuse for that. I do likes teh poker but it's definitely caused me to slack on some ventures that I shouldn't be slacking on. It's hard to pass up the potential monthly poker income, especially when developing websites that won't return a penny for months and months, but I need to bite the bullet and get more sites up.

Jobs are weird things. I've been wondering lately if some of us are slightly predisposed to be mediocre poker players (and I mean mediocre only in the sense of results, not in level of skill achieved), for no reason other than having a history of working menial jobs. Since I was 14 or so I've always had fairly menial jobs (except for my current one), washing dishes, delivering pizza, painting houses, laying tile. Granted, I was in school until I was 25, so most of my work experience was during summers, until I landed in my current monkey job a few years after I finished grad school. But I definitely have first-hand experience with the lovely experience of working long, back-breaking days, for not a whole heck of a lot of money.

Which is a sneaky handicap, methinks, when it comes to poker. I find myself constantly fighting the equation battle when I'm playing, equating profits I've booked to real-world experiences. Such as "Damn, I've made more in the last two days than I did the whole summer I worked for Dominoes delivering pizzas," or "Holy crizzap, I used to bust my ass (and knees) mixing mortar and installing saltillo tile, working for weeks to make what I just pulled down in a single session."

That sort of thinking, speaking solely for myself, really isn't helpful. Whenever I start equating profits to tangible things, I usually stop being as aggressive as I should be, stop treating the chips as wee pixels, and start getting cautious and hedging what's suddenly important in my monkey mind. And, to be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever completely overcome that, as the notion of "hard work" (and the resulting monetary expectation) has been drilled pretty deeply into me. Getting paid more than that for something that definitely isn't hard work at all will likely forever cause me to giggle, and to be somewhat cautious with my chips.

Which, finally, brings us back to the doomed to be a mediocre player comment. It's interesting to look at some of the most successful poker players these days. While some of them held old-school jobs for many, many years, the more common scenario involves young, aggressive players that really have never held a typical day job, or at least not for any appreciable length of time. It seems counter-intuitive at first, but makes sense if you think about it. If you've never slogged through the salt mines, you really have no notion of just how big that stack of money you have is (and what it equates to in salt mine hours), so you have absolutely no hesitation whatsoever in rolling the bones and putting that entire stack out there, confident that you can double it, or, worst case scenario, build another stack just like it if you lose.

If you have slogged through the salt mines, though, it's pretty hard to be as aggressive and push as hard as you need to to maximize what you might make. Not impossible, by any stretch of the imagination, but much harder, methinks.


Human Head said...

Right on, sir. You are exactly right. I find myself doing this all the time at the tables and even at my current job. All I can think is, "Geez, I can't believe I'm getting paid this much for this little effort"

Chris Halverson said...

I agree. For 3 summers I worked in a feed mill doing grunt work. A feed mill is one of those things that periodically explodes due to excess dust. Guess who got to clean that up? We're talking literally dumpsters full of dust. Every day. Then for overtime I'd get to climb into the mixer and use a pnuematic chisel to clean the dried molasses off of the mixing blades. If I was lucky, the overtime was just loading trucks or bagging.

Let me tell you, working that job made me appreciate an office job. I'm much more conservative than I probably should be, but then again, I don't want to be working in a feed mill when I'm 60 like a couple of the guys were doing.

Joe Speaker said...

I'm with you all the way on this one. I've even done some of the math in my blog from time to time.

I have another strange, related issue: The more bankroll I have, the more conservatively I play.*

I have no idea what's up with that. Like I "worked" so hard to win it and I don't want to give it back. Or something.

Know a good shrink?

*This will not apply in Las Vegas.

Drizztdj said...

I will only be playing AA, 99, and 72o in Vegas.

If I bet you can put me on three different hands.