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Poker Goals & Challenges Post your threads logging your travels up the poker ladder as you achieve your poker goals and dreams. "Challenges" does NOT mean prop bets, wagers, etc.

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Old 04-02-2014, 12:36 PM   #176
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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I was fascinated by Double Down but, perhaps because fiction allows more shapeliness, I found Bob the Gambler the more satisfying reading experience. Both give the reader a compelling sense of what compulsive gambling can be like at its worst, the kind of gambling that is self-punishment with little upside. (If the choice of blackjack wasn't bad enough, the fallback to slots was really showed what bad shape Frederick Barthelme was in.)

Those cheating accusations are still very puzzling, given how badly they were doing. (Though they must have been feeling very desperate.) So far as I know there was never any further explanation.
Yea the accusations are inexplicable. Hopefully the barthelmes are in a better place now.

I'll write a few words about Bob once I get to it. Any other gambling books that you'd recommend, Russell?
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Old 04-02-2014, 10:23 PM   #177
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Yea the accusations are inexplicable. Hopefully the barthelmes are in a better place now.

I'll write a few words about Bob once I get to it. Any other gambling books that you'd recommend, Russell?
Nothing that immediately occurs to me other than the obvious poker books.

I posted a response in the book thread after reading Jack Richardson's Memoir of a Gambler. Not a book I'd recommend exactly -- but strangely interesting ...

And I don't know how it would hold up now but I loved The Eudaemonic Pie when I read it ... More than just a gambling book.
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Old 04-03-2014, 09:53 AM   #178
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Nothing that immediately occurs to me other than the obvious poker books.

I posted a response in the book thread after reading Jack Richardson's Memoir of a Gambler. Not a book I'd recommend exactly -- but strangely interesting ...

And I don't know how it would hold up now but I loved The Eudaemonic Pie when I read it ... More than just a gambling book.
Thanks for mentioning. I can't think of too many, either. one that comes to mind (fiction) is Leonard Typsin's Summer in Baden-Baden, which I remember being really good. The book moves between contemporary Russia and Dostoevsky's disastrous gambling sprees in 19th century Germany. Here's an excerpt:

and whenever he tried to shout out his stake and position, it seemed that the eyes of all those sitting or standing at the table were turned towards him and that they all believed he was gambling for the money, out of necessity, and so he always tried to announce his bet as clearly and carelessly as possible, but always managed to sound either too pleading or too defiant, so that people must still be thinking that some extremely special, pressing reasons were compelling him to gamble - and now all this was behind him - and he went on to win, and on the seven as well - double luck and a good omen - and, having won three gold pieces, he now placed all six on impair - and won again thought on the nine this time - he must switch to manque as passe had already come up three times in a row - and he staked five of the nine gold coins he had won - he was winning time after time - on passe, manque, rouge, noir, and even twice on zero - the coins were piling up before him - and someone obligingly placed a chair behind him, but he did not sit down in case he altered the tempo of his game and, in any case, he was probably quite unaware of the chair and what he was supposed to do with it - and everything around him spun in a kind of mad vortex - nothing was visible except the piles of coins before him and the tiny ball, rolling round and finishing in the sector he had divine - and he was betting over and over again, raking in with his hands the coins he had won and adding them to the pile which shone with a reddish-gold gleam - and the peak of the mountain had suddenly emerged from the clouds, which remained somewhere below - he was now so high he could not even see the earth - all was covered with white cloud, and he strode across the cloud and, strangely, it supported him and even lifted him up towards the reddish-gold, unconquered peak which until quite recently had seemed unattainable.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:27 AM   #179
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Thanks for mentioning. I can't think of too many, either. one that comes to mind (fiction) is Leonard Typsin's Summer in Baden-Baden, which I remember being really good. The book moves between contemporary Russia and Dostoevsky's disastrous gambling sprees in 19th century Germany.
Thanks: that does, indeed, look like something I would enjoy. (I see that it got a great review from James Wood in The Guardian.) I've added it to my short list.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:53 AM   #180
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Thanks: that does, indeed, look like something I would enjoy. (I see that it got a great review from James Wood in The Guardian.) I've added it to my short list.
Nice. I'd enjoy hearing what you think. If I get motivated I'd like to write something about Dostoevsky's The Gambler and Baden-Baden as companion pieces. A lot of other stuff on my plate, though.
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Old 04-06-2014, 11:18 AM   #181
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

A Sense of Where You Are by John McPhee (New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, 1965)



"When you have played basketball for a while, you don't need to look at the basket when you are in close like this," [Bradley] said, throwing it over his shoulder again and right through the hoop. "You develop a sense of where you are" (22).

First published in 1965, A Sense of Where You Are is the literary equivalent of a harmonic convergence, a remarkable confluence of two talents--John McPhee and Bill Bradley--at the beginning of what would prove to be long and distinguished careers. While McPhee would blossom into one of the best nonfiction writers of the last 35 years, Bradley segued from an all-American basketball player at Princeton, to Rhodes Scholar, to NBA star, to three terms in the U.S. Senate. (http://www.amazon.com/Sense-Where-Yo.../dp/0374526893)

Notes and Questions

setting up the speaker's voice: "Bradley is sensitive about such dazzling passes, because they look flashy, and an edge comes into his voice as he defends them" (32).

"Bang, bang, bang--he hit a running one-hander, a seventeen-foot jumper and a lay-up on a fast break, and the United States won by eight points" (35).

What does it take to be great? DFW's essay on Michael Joyce. "One of [Bradley's] most enviable gifts is his ability to regiment his conscious mind...When he has had to, he has set up schedules of study that have kept him reading from 6am to midnight every day for as long as eight weeks" (38).

"The two words that Bradley repeats most often when he talks about basketball are 'discipline' and concentration'" (65)

"The average basketball player only like to play basketball," van Breda Kolff says. "Where he's left to himself, all he wants to do is get a two-on-two or a three-on-three going. Bradley practices techniques, making himself learn and improve instead of merely having fun" (50).

McPhee's subjects. he see himself in them or aspires to be like them. the question of style: "Many basketball players, outstanding ones included, have a tendency to be rather tastelessly rococo in their style, and Bradley stands out in contrast to them because he adorns nothing that he does" (82).

***

"something" weakens the simile: "Bradley develops a relationship with his man that is something like the relationship between a yoyoist and his yoyo" (59).

coleopteran--beetle-like
tatterdemalion--a person in tattered clothing; a shabby person
saturnalia--an unrestrained often licentious celebration
erg--a unit of energy

exaggeration: "they were humoring an old cripple...he scored twenty and twenty-four points, mainly on set shots from his wheel chair...Hobbling around pathetically" (106)

metaphors and images of vision. taking Bradley to the eye doctor to measure his range of sight; finding the contact lens on the ground during a game (124).

quotation sets up description: "in the Providence game I was a member of the greatest team I had ever played on." They flew up the court in fast, interwoven patterns, and whipped the ball to one another so quickly that the people in the crowd didn't know where it was" (125).

Cliffs:

For basketball fans, A Sense of Where You Are describes one of the early great players--Bradley's still the best player to come out of the Ivy League, right?--and the early days of the NCAA. For non-basketball fans, the book shows what it takes to be great--not merely good, but great--at something. Recent editions of the book include a 1999 addendum that discusses Bradley's career as a politician. The book is enjoyable and inspiring. There aren't many people around like Bill Bradley--or, for that matter, John McPhee.
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Old 04-07-2014, 04:59 PM   #182
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

two interesting links. the first is to an interview with Ole Bjerg, the author of Poker: the Parody of Capitalism: http://blog.press.umich.edu/2011/12/...of-capitalism/

the second is to an interview with Joel Dias-Porter, a poet and poker player: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/243666#article
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Old 04-07-2014, 05:32 PM   #183
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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two interesting links. the first is to an interview with Ole Bjerg, the author of Poker: the Parody of Capitalism: http://blog.press.umich.edu/2011/12/...of-capitalism/

the second is to an interview with Joel Dias-Porter, a poet and poker player: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/243666#article
Very interesting, though the first may bring the question of parody to higher (and uninteded?) levels ...
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:35 AM   #184
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Very interesting, though the first may bring the question of parody to higher (and uninteded?) levels ...
heheh...agreed. funny that I chanced upon both interviews at the same time, since the way that the authors try to "know" their subject couldn't be more different. btw, I really like Joel's poker poem, which I'm pasting below (link to original source here: (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/article/243666#article)

The Bukowski in You

When the last pile of chips
gets shipped the other way,
when your wallet yawns
like a two-coated man prone
on a park bench,
what else is there to do
but stagger out of
the Taj Mahal’s poker room
and return to the shadows
of an empty womb,
then curl up like
the last macaroni
stuck to a paper plate?
You sense even the women,
and dumping the trash’s last odors,
wouldn’t sweep you
into their dusty pans.
The red deck, the blue deck,
the shuffle machine,
have conspired to
make you feel like
the darkness under
the dealer’s manicured nails,
his Rolex stopped to watch.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
Everything you touch stutters.
You can’t remember
what singing sounded like
before the Ace of Hearts
punctured your last lung,
can’t feel your buddy
tapping your shoulder
asking, “How much you down?”
You remember the elevator
ride to your room,
39 floors of sunk stomach
before the white smile
of a towel spread across
the bathroom floor.
Suppose you were nothing
but a hand towel
in a $49 motel?
Suppose you lived
to lick beads of brightness
from a working girl’s back,
but all you had
was parched lips
and a swollen tongue?
That’s why whisky
clings to the bottle,
slight burn in the beginning,
then oak smooth and
polished as an expensive casket,
that’s why when
the last card turns,
whatever you hear
sounds like a bullet.
More so if you dig
digging in moist earth.
Even more so, if
you’re not a gardener
or a man in a straw hat
wanding the beach for beeps.
You’re addicted to
the dance of the Blue deck,
but also the way
the Red deck parts like
a pair of painted lips.
You’re addicted to
knowing that even
a gypsy psychic
can’t find your card first,
no matter how far she
follows a palm’s
rugged grooves
like wood grain.
You’re addicted to
knowing the cards love
no one
but the last hands
to hold them.
Is there anything
sexier than
putting it all-in and
having the moment
Morse code thru your veins?
Anything sexier
than the way
desperation’s dress
hugs her hips?
That’s why you return,
why you tease your chair
to the table’s edge
and post a blind bet,
why you peel the corner
of your hole cards
like they're prosperity’s
last pair
of good panties.
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:39 AM   #185
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

I've mentioned Aesah's goals thread a few times. It's one of the top five goals threads on this site imo and I encourage you all to check it out. He just wrote a great post on pros vs fish and the ethics of poker/gambling: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...postcount=3466
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Old 04-08-2014, 03:58 PM   #186
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Originally Posted by bob_124 View Post
The Bukowski in You

When the last pile of chips
gets shipped the other way,
when your wallet yawns
like a two-coated man prone
on a park bench,
what else is there to do
but stagger out of
the Taj Mahal’s poker room
and return to the shadows
of an empty womb,
then curl up like
the last macaroni
stuck to a paper plate?
You sense even the women,
and dumping the trash’s last odors,
wouldn’t sweep you
into their dusty pans.
The red deck, the blue deck,
the shuffle machine,
have conspired to
make you feel like
the darkness under
the dealer’s manicured nails,
his Rolex stopped to watch.
Damn. Damn. Damn.
Everything you touch stutters.
You can’t remember
what singing sounded like
before the Ace of Hearts
punctured your last lung,
can’t feel your buddy
tapping your shoulder
asking, “How much you down?”
You remember the elevator
ride to your room,
39 floors of sunk stomach
before the white smile
of a towel spread across
the bathroom floor.
Suppose you were nothing
but a hand towel
in a $49 motel?
Suppose you lived
to lick beads of brightness
from a working girl’s back,
but all you had
was parched lips
and a swollen tongue?
That’s why whisky
clings to the bottle,
slight burn in the beginning,
then oak smooth and
polished as an expensive casket,
that’s why when
the last card turns,
whatever you hear
sounds like a bullet.
More so if you dig
digging in moist earth.
Even more so, if
you’re not a gardener
or a man in a straw hat
wanding the beach for beeps.
You’re addicted to
the dance of the Blue deck,
but also the way
the Red deck parts like
a pair of painted lips.
You’re addicted to
knowing that even
a gypsy psychic
can’t find your card first,
no matter how far she
follows a palm’s
rugged grooves
like wood grain.
You’re addicted to
knowing the cards love
no one
but the last hands
to hold them.
Is there anything
sexier than
putting it all-in and
having the moment
Morse code thru your veins?
Anything sexier
than the way
desperation’s dress
hugs her hips?
That’s why you return,
why you tease your chair
to the table’s edge
and post a blind bet,
why you peel the corner
of your hole cards
like they're prosperity’s
last pair
of good panties.
I'm sure that's the best poker poem I've ever read. (Though the pool must be quite small.)
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:23 PM   #187
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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I'm sure that's the best poker poem I've ever read. (Though the pool must be quite small.)
+1. I need to go up to AC and buy that guy a drink.
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Old 04-10-2014, 10:52 AM   #188
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

I just read the profile on Joel Dias-Porter from the Poetry Foundation website. What's most interesting is the fact that the author of the article on Dias-Porter is a poet himself, who seems to have very little understanding of the poker word. Typical features of the journalistic approach to poker players are absent (e.g. style of play, results, career trajectory); instead we have this focus on Dias-Porter's somewhat itinerant lifestyle, jumping from one comped hotel to another in Atlantic City. It's notable that some of Dias-Porter's closest peers, from the poetry world, remark how much this lifestyle suits him (even though these guys, like the author of the profile, seem to know little about poker). I wasn't quite sure whether Dias-Porter still saw himself primarily as poet or a poker player, or whether, and perhaps more likely, he regarded such a hierarchical classification of his identity mistaken. Would be interested to know what others think, especially in relation to earlier discussions on this thread, as to whether poker can be considered an occupation that is relatively "free", in the existential sense.
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Old 04-11-2014, 11:30 AM   #189
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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I just read the profile on Joel Dias-Porter from the Poetry Foundation website. What's most interesting is the fact that the author of the article on Dias-Porter is a poet himself, who seems to have very little understanding of the poker word. Typical features of the journalistic approach to poker players are absent (e.g. style of play, results, career trajectory); instead we have this focus on Dias-Porter's somewhat itinerant lifestyle, jumping from one comped hotel to another in Atlantic City. It's notable that some of Dias-Porter's closest peers, from the poetry world, remark how much this lifestyle suits him (even though these guys, like the author of the profile, seem to know little about poker). I wasn't quite sure whether Dias-Porter still saw himself primarily as poet or a poker player, or whether, and perhaps more likely, he regarded such a hierarchical classification of his identity mistaken. Would be interested to know what others think, especially in relation to earlier discussions on this thread, as to whether poker can be considered an occupation that is relatively "free", in the existential sense.
I also thought that the author's treatment of the poker side of the story was, at best, superficial. Not sure why Joel's pursuing this lifestyle but a few clues jump out to me from the interview and the poem.

"The Bukowski in You"

Here we have a clear nod to one of the Beat poets and, more broadly, to their interest in outsiders, the downtrodden, and the seamy side of life. These interests aren't an end in themselves but the means to an end--to wisdom, perhaps even a religious kind of wisdom (Beat --> beatific), which isn't accessed apart from ugliness and sordidness but through it:

Then a complete silence fell over everybody; where once Dean would have talked his way out, he now fell silent himself, but standing in front of everybody, ragged and broken and idiotic, right under the lightbulbs, his bony mad face covered with sweat and throbbing veins, saying, "Yes, yes, yes," as though tremendous revelations were pouring into him all the time now, and I am convinced they were, and the others suspected as much and were frightened. He was BEAT - the root, the soul of Beatific. (Kerouac, On the Road)

I think Dias-Porter may see something in the ugliness of AC--call it hidden wisdom, beauty, whatever--and he's trying to capture it (or embody it). As the author points out, "If Renegade is able to fully inhabit and excavate the psychological truth of his life in Atlantic City in a dozen more poems, he’ll have the makings of a wonderful book that could make ripples in the poetry world." To some degree Dias-Porter is what he's trying to write about: a grimy gem in a sea of gamblers, tourists, and Jersey Shore playboys.

The alternative, of course, is that he's a degen, and that the poetry and eloquent banter is a smokescreen covering his addiction. The author also raises this possibility: "Later that night, as we walk the boardwalk, I ask Renegade about gambling and the possibility of addiction. He gives a long, winding answer crammed with factual evidence, stating that a far lower percentage of people who gamble are addicted than people who drink, or smoke, or do heroin. Several things stand out about his response: first, the length—most of his other answers have been quick and exact, and this one meanders; second, he responds with statistics and completely avoids an emotional response."

The problem with this piece, which gets back to your opening point, TJ, is that we don't have an adequate window into Joel's poker-playing (his skillz) or his lifestyle. This is admittedly hard to do, since it requires not only an understanding of the game but also a willingness to watch Joel in action for a long time. Sitting for a few hours at the table isn't enough.

Poker and freedom

I doubt that poker (or any other occupation) can provide freedom. (Maybe I'm just skeptical of the radical kind of freedom that Sartre espoused). But, for many of us, poker does symbolize freedom, and I suspect that Joel's attracted to the game for this reason. He lived in a homeless shelter, rejects material possessions, says that he doesn't care about the money that he wins or loses at the table--all of these comments suggest that, at least in principle, poker represents a kind of freedom or life outside the system. I think that this approach can be liberating or dangerous, depending on the person.

I'm also interested to hear what others think.
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Old 04-11-2014, 12:48 PM   #190
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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... I think Dias-Porter may see something in the ugliness of AC--call it hidden wisdom, beauty, whatever--and he's trying to capture it (or embody it). As the author points out, "If Renegade is able to fully inhabit and excavate the psychological truth of his life in Atlantic City in a dozen more poems, he’ll have the makings of a wonderful book that could make ripples in the poetry world." To some degree Dias-Porter is what he's trying to write about: a grimy gem in a sea of gamblers, tourists, and Jersey Shore playboys.

The alternative, of course, is that he's a degen, and that the poetry and eloquent banter is a smokescreen covering his addiction. ...
A very thoughtful commentary on an interesting figure. I would certainly read any eventual poetry book.

But I'm not convinced that you need to postulate alternative explanations. I think it would be quite possible for one person to contain both psychic drives. Philip Roth has described one of his characters (one pretty clearly based on himself) similarly as a "scholar rake" (a description he adapted from an earlier characterization of Richard Steele).
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:27 PM   #191
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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But I'm not convinced that you need to postulate alternative explanations. I think it would be quite possible for one person to contain both psychic drives. Philip Roth has described one of his characters (one pretty clearly based on himself) similarly as a "scholar rake" (a description he adapted from an earlier characterization of Richard Steele).
definitely, and I think part of poker's appeal is how these competing impulses can be indistinguishable. To take a slightly different example, the anthropology David Hayano admitted that, when he started writing Poker Faces, he was often unsure whether he visited the casino for "work" or for "play." (am i an academic/poet writing about poker, or is my project merely an excuse to feed my desire to gamble?)
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Old 04-12-2014, 11:18 AM   #192
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

The Cincinnati Kid by Richard Jessup (New York: Dell, 1963)



It took a while but I found a poker novel that could stand alongside Rick Bennet's King of a Small World: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...4&postcount=11. The books are actually quite different; choosing a "winner" is like choosing between Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. While Bennet's book is admirable for its gritty realism, Cincinnati mixes realism with melodrama: the rambling-gambling culture, The Kid versus The Man, and, of course, that famous and outrageous poker hand:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI6pSkIs_tc.

Richard Jessup


Jessup (1925-1982) "I was a seaman for 10 years and i read my way around the world 25 times." Jessup received no formal education and learned to write by reading sometimes five or six books a day.When he died at 57, Jessup had completed almost 70 novels, the most famous being The Cincinnati Kid.

"In Marseilles, in 1945, I started to rap with a guy at a bar and it turned out to be Albert Camus. He told me his name but it didn't mean anything then. Camus talking about his existential philosophy, and I began to think about it and study it, and I believe in it today. It frees you from a lot of existential claptrap." http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=6113,3097915.



The Cincinnati Kid

From thirteen to sixteen The Kid "began to feel the cards"; at sixteen he questioned the appeal of the game and discovered that "a betting man with an honest dollar to back his judgment on a subject was equal to anyone, anywhere, any time, and that from time immemorial there had been men who would bet, rich men with poor, smart men with stupid men, black men with white men" (23).

At seventeen he moved to Kentucky and learned the difference between playing cards and being a rambling-gambling man: "there was more subtlety in the mores and patterns of behavior amongst the professionals than he had ever known with just pick-up games" (24). Jessup is masterful at presenting these subtleties in action--the short, clipped conversation between The Kid and Lancey, the tacit understandings among gamblers like collecting "Tap City" for those who go bust. Jessup makes us, as readers, feel like we're part of their secret world (Chapter 7 scene with the Hollywood directors and "young business types" who want to sit and play but who aren't allowed--they don't understand that the game is a pretext for the showdown between The Kid and Lancey).

Game over Girl

The Cincinnati Kid did not know of a single rambling-gambling man who was married (34)

When The Kid heads to the Ozarks to visit his girl Christian's family, Mr. Craigie asks him point blank what's more important: "this king business," or his daughter. "The Kid flipped the cigarette into the cowlot and straightened up. 'If you got the guts to ask that question, Mr. Craigie, I've got the guts to answer it. Christian, if you came right down to it, is not as important as doing what I have to do" (82). This shows us a lot about The Kid--especially his honesty and the importance of challenging Lancey. It also shows us a lot about the codes of masculinity that both The Kid and Mr. Craigie follow. Though we might expect Christian's father to get angry, his question was actually a test, which The Kid passes with high marks. "Son," he tells The Kid, "there never was a man worth a damn to my mind that let a woman--his woman--stand in the way of a thing he had to do" (82).

Lancey Howard--The King, The Man--epitomizes the rambling-gambling lifestyle. "I don't look for a fixed thing anymore," Lancey tells The Kid when they discuss women. "I just pick up a nice thing and when I'm away from the cards and the action, I enjoy it and--let it wear itself out" (127). The Kid agrees, but only halfheartedly. "I always wanted a little more than just something to hold onto, and jazz a little, if you know what I mean" (127)

Mr. Craigie also asks The Kid why he must challenge Lancey. Is it for money? Definitely not. "The Kid thought a long time, taking deep, even puffs on the cigarette, glancing now and then out over the vale and down at the cows. "Ambition, I guess," he said finally. "Like that--ambition, maybe" (81). The Kid's answer shows his uncertainty. Does he want to follow this code? Does he want to follow in the footsteps--and dethrone--Shooter, Pig, Lancey, and all the other rambling-gambling men?

The Final Hand

Lancey turned over his hold cards and The Kid stared into the red face of a jack heart, and he did not realize for a moment that he had lost (145).

By the final hand, we believe in The Kid. He has talent and good sense; his mentor, Shooter, is a good man; he's well-rested for the match; and he's outplayed everyone--including Lancey. But something is off. The Kid isn't ready to assume the throne, and he still isn't ready when, months later, he plays Lancey again and loses. What went wrong? "His woman comes in and tries to help him, and put it in such a way that The Kid will understand that for every number-one man there is a number-two man, and that because of this, a man cannot retreat from life. The difference, his woman tries to tell him, is that the number-one man is a machine and The Cincinnati Kid is not, and was not, and never will be a machine" (156).

Will The Kid leave his "square job" and his woman and go back into the world of the rambling-gambling man? The book ends with uncertainty: maybe the urge will come, maybe not. For now, he'll wait with Christian: "When the crisp nights come, his woman sits in the window and sings mountain songs, a soft knowing smile on her face as she waits with him" (156).

Notes and Questions

excellent pacing. Anne Lamott's ABDCE--Action Backround Development Climax Ending.

for the best parts of the book, see Chapter 5 (conversation with Mr. Craigie) and Chapter 8 (poker game)

Cliffs

The Cincinnati Kid is a taut, well-written novel that contains some of the best poker scenes I've encountered. Richard Jessup blends realism with melodrama--especially the straight-flush-over-full-house final hand. Highly recommended!
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Old 04-13-2014, 11:26 AM   #193
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (New York: Random House, 2005)



I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.

I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead (225-26)


In December 2003, the only daughter of Didion and her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, fell into septic shock from a runaway pneumonia infection. Her doctors at New York's Beth Israel North put the young woman - she was married only five months earlier - into an induced coma. On the evening of Dec. 30, her parents returned from the hospital to their apartment. While the couple were talking over supper, John Gregory Dunne slumped in his chair with one hand raised, dying so suddenly that for a moment his wife mistook the event for a failed joke (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/09/bo...anted=all&_r=0).

Written during the year after this terrible event, Magical Thinking represents Didion's attempt to make sense of her husband's death. But how? What does it even mean to "explain" or "make sense of" another's death? This is the subject of the book.

Many voices

There are so many registers of speech in this book, so many different voices and ways of knowing. Didion includes her own thoughts and memories; hastily scribbled notes on a napkin or in the margins of a book; the "magical thinking" that creates the fantasy world in which her husband is still alive; poetry, literature, film; quotes from her and John's previous novels; medical jargon, the language of doctors and hospitals; the voices of society; scholarship on death and dying; newspaper clippings; the cliches and platitudes that encourage us to ignore the reality of death; and more. To give you a sense of the linguistic diversity of this book, here's how a few chapters begin:

Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self pity.


Those were the first words I wrote after it happened. The computer dating on the Microsoft Word file ("Notes on change.doc") read "May 20, 2004, 11:11 p.m.," but that would have been a case of my opening the file and reflexively pressing save when I closed it). (ch. 1)

***

The power of grief to derange the mind has in fact been exhaustively noted. The act of grieving, Freud told us in his 1917 "Mourning and Melancholia," involves grave departures from the normal attitude to life." (ch. 3)

***

There was something else I was taught growing up in California. (ch. 5)

***

Several years ago, walking east on Fifty-seventh Street between Sixth and Fifth Avenues on a bright fall day, I had what I believed at the time to be an apprehension of death. (ch. 6)

***

I used to tell John my dreams, not to understand them but to get ride of them, clear my mind for the day. "Don't tell me your dream," he would say when I woke in the morning, but in the end he would listen. (ch. 13)

***

Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. (ch. 17)

***

All of these voices are marshaled together in the interest of honesty and Didion's ferocious desire to understand the meaning of John's death: "I needed to know how and why and when it had happened" (22)

The Act of Writing, Pathography

How can one move on after the death of a loved one? How can we understand the death of another person? One way is to write about it. Writing imposes control over this confusing assortment of details; it's empowering. Control is especially important in autobiographical narratives of illness, or "pathographies" (http://www.pathography.blogspot.com/). Pathographies not only articulate the hopes, fears, and anxieties so common to sickness, but they also serve as guidebooks to the medical experience itself, shaping a reader's expectations about the course of an illness and its treatment. There are multiple narratives of illness here: Didion's narrative of grief and mourning, her daughter's battle with pneumonia, and her husband's death.

Style

Robert Pinsky, in his NYT book review, nicely describes her style:

The unshowy, nearly flat surface of her writing is rippled by patterns of repetition: an understatement that, like Hemingway's, attains its own kind of drama. Repetition and observation narrate emotion by demonstrating it, so that restraint itself becomes poetic, even operatic (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/09/bo...anted=all&_r=0)

"I had entered at the moment it happened a kind of shock in which the only thought I allowed myself was that there must be certain things I needed to do. There had been certain things I had needed to do while the ambulance crew was in the living room. I had needed for example to get the copy of John's medical summary, so I could take it with me to the hospital. I had needed for example to bank the fire, because I would be leaving it. There had been certain things I had needed to do at the hospital. I had needed for example to stand in the line. I had needed for example to focus on the bed with telemetry he would need for the transfer to Columbia-Presbyterian."

This is the opposite of hack "vividness." Instead of modifiers or the conventions of "description," the repeated, vague, nearly meaningless phrases "certain things" and "for example" and "needed to do" dramatize both the inner numbness of shock and the outer reality of the emergency, a terminal reality that is uniquely complicated and simple (Pinsky).

Love

Didion's love for John comes through most powerfully when she describes their routines, the ebb and flow of their life as two writers who spent all day together, like this description of their walks through Central Park: "We walked every morning. We did not always walk together because we liked different routes but we would keep the other's route in mind and intersect before we left the park" (36).

Notes and Questions

mixing high/low culture and linguistic registers.

how to write honestly about oneself. how write honestly about grief without "feeling sorry for yourself." the problem of self-pity.

John Dunne wrote Vegas: Memoirs of a Dark Season. Do these books link up in some way?

Cliffs:

The Year of Magical Thinking is moving, innovative, and oddly humorous. While its choppiness is part of the point, I struggled to finish this book in one sitting (in fact, I dipped in and out for over a month). This may be my own failing, but I think it's worth mentioning that I didn't find Magical Thinking as gripping as, say, The Cincinnati Kid. I'd recommend the book to anyone who's interested in self-reflection, illness narratives, death and dying, and the craft of writing.

Last edited by bob_124; 04-13-2014 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 04-13-2014, 10:31 PM   #194
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

favorite PG&C Threads

Aesah: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...poker-1182301/

DGIHarris: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...vegas-1038462/

ECGrinder: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...style-1379071/

PureAggression: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...vegas-1038462/

insanepoker7 (obv): http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...lorida-955154/

B!p: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...i-pro-1342207/

11T: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/17...lenge-1271557/

Favorite PG&C Thread Names

How to Make a Million, OWN Life and become a ****ing Meathead (NO Steroids, NO Hookers)

"Collars Pop, Panties Drop!"

F**k my sh**ty job: Family guy on a hunt for money

living out of my car in florida...

Sexy Polish Heads Up Millionaire. Crushing Poker

2014: Ex-Con becomes Live Poker Pro

Which ones am I missing?
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Old 04-14-2014, 09:51 AM   #195
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Hoping to lay my hands on a Camus novel this week when I am up at my aunt's place as I spied out a few of them last time I was up there. I didn't then stump up the courage to borrow it but I will this time.
Hopefully I will get my hands on one to give you my view on him in the next couple of week Bob.
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Old 04-14-2014, 11:27 AM   #196
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

great, Digger. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. I read The Stranger when I was younger but nothing since then.
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:26 PM   #197
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

two play money hands that involve weird river sizing.

Villain (100): decent LAG--one of the better players in the pool, pretty active but sane.
Hero (100): perceived as LAG by villain, I think. We've been two-tabling heads up for about 20min.

Hero raise to 3 with T8o, villain calls, flop 46T (6).

Hero bets 3, villain calls, turn K(12)
hero bets 8, villain calls.

River T (28), villain shoves for 80.

Hand 2

Hero (400): TAG
Villain (400): Spazz, prone to tilt.

Villain limps in EP, hero raises to 10 with AK, villain called

JT3, villain c/c 14 and we see a J turn (48), check/check.

River Q, villain bets 132 into 48.

what ranges are you putting villains on in both hands?

Spoiler:


and Hand 3

Villain (100) a creative/spazzy LAG with fancy play syndrome.
Hero (100) TAG

Villain raises to 3, three others calls, hero calls in BB with QJ

flop A58 (15), checks through.

Turn 9, hero bets 7, villain raises to 19.

I had already seen villain make some unbalanced plays--like checking back a low flop and raising a turned Ace--so I know that he can have air here, and his line looks bluffy. How often does villain need to be bluffing for a shove to be profitable?
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Old 04-19-2014, 12:46 PM   #198
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Notes on Sam Grafton, The Thinking Poker Podcast

I listen pretty regularly to the Thinking Poker podcast, which offers intelligent discussions of all things poker-related. This week Sam Grafton, a UK-based pro, had some interesting things to say about poker as a subculture and its relation to gambling: http://www.thinkingpoker.net/2014/04...5-sam-grafton/.

poker is a unique and rare subculture with its own discourses and rituals and rules (19:00).

Foucault, various discourses that have been repressed (sexuality)

the world of gambling is the "repressed other" that infects the poker subculture. we do exist in a gambling culture. epts no longer say "best of luck," but "we wish you the best of success."

relationship between poker players (Grafton) and the horse bettors,
"I know what I do is gambling because of the feeling I get at the end of a Sunday" (20:00).

playing for more than the rush..not just gambling but also "the iconography of sport"--trophies, prestige, competition, ego (24:00)

DSM, gambling as pathology: http://blog.ncrg.org/blog/2013/05/ev...gambling-dsm-5

***

I'll return to some of these topics soon when I review Bob the Gambler. I'm about halfway through and am enjoying the book.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:35 AM   #199
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Brooks Haxton essay

Brooks Haxton, a Syracuse English prof and poker player Ike's dad, wrote an article about interesting piece for the NYT magazine. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/27/ma...570251&gwt=pay. The piece focuses on probability--at the poker table and in the hospital, when Brooks and his wife learned that Ike was born with jaundice.

Looks like Brooks's memoir is coming out next month: http://www.amazon.com/Fading-Hearts-...8608662&sr=1-1. This plus Colson Whitehead's The Noble Hustle means that May will bring two important poker books. Exciting stuff for a literary nerd like me!
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Old 04-27-2014, 01:50 PM   #200
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

On Improving



Ive made some posts here before, and ive met several of the members over aim conversations and the like. However, i am starting to feel like I am stuck in a hopeless situation. Every time i begin to do well, i have a huge roller coaster ride and end up broke again, ending up having to reload. Again I am down to my last 30$, and I just dont even know what to say. Its not like im out of money, but if i cant get my bankroll going, and i continue to be a marginal losing player, whats the point? ---Doug "WGCRider" Polk

Hope everyone's doing well. I came across the quote above in an old (2007) archived. For those who don't know him, Polk enjoyed a meteoric rise in poker from a microstakes losing player to arguably the best heads-up NL player in the world: http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/show...0&fpart=1&vc=1. How did Polk get so good? What did he do to improve? I don't know, but the very fact that he did improve so dramatically is encouraging. It's also encouraging that he rose through the ranks slowly, getting frustrated, learning from his mistakes, and daring to think big.

I'm also working on self-improvement, although my goal isn't to become a world-class poker player. Instead, it's to improve my writing and move from a decent poker player to a good one. I've had a few personal and professional breakthroughs this year--some ah-ha! moments about the kind of work that I want to do and where I want to be--which I'll probably discuss in May, on the anniversary of this blog. One of them is that I really enjoy, and want to write, longform nonfiction or what's called "slow journalism" (like this: http://narrative.ly/). To that end, my goal is to read one article per day and post my thoughts here. Some of the articles will be poker-related, some won't.

I'm also committing to posting one poker hand per day. Most will be from the play money tables, and some will be from live no limit games. I've hit a plateau in poker and want to push myself beyond it. Part of this has to do with what DGIHarris talked about in a post on "autopilot": http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...postcount=1171. But I think this also has to do with my recent desire to deconstruct my skill set (in poker, in writing, in teaching), rigorously analyze each piece, and reconstruct them so that it's stronger than before. This will be hard, and it will take time. Which is why I appreciate stories like Polk's and blogs like DGI's, Digger's (http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/22...words-1402912/), and many others on this site. They remind me that the path will be long and the work may be unappreciated, but the journey is worth the effort.



“True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.” —David F. Wallace
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