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Old 04-28-2014, 11:17 AM   #201
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Bob the Gambler by Frederick Barthelme (Boston and NY: Houghton Mifflin, 1997)




I felt like somebody had stuck a shunt in my side and was shoveling in the adrenaline. My heart was hammering. Another shot at it. That's what I'd been thinking about. It was hard not to shake" (210)


Bob the Gambler is about a couple, Ray and Jewel, whose comfortable life in Biloxi is shattered by the allure of gambling at the Paradise Casino. Jewel starts gambling—first innocently, then compulsively—and Ray follows suit. Then Ray’s father dies, precipitating a disastrous evening in which, after betting tens of thousands of dollars in single blackjack hands, Ray loses 35K. Sound familiar? http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh..._postcount=173.


In the Books thread, Gioco offered a good critique of the novel. I'll start there:

" I think it's an attempt to do dirty realism and minimalist fiction that isn't successful. Toward the end of the novel, the unifying theme gets heavy handed in a single paragraph. To me that's an indication the author realized his "show don't tell" technique wasn't working and he didn't know what to do about it or didn't care to put the creative energy into finding a solution or ran out of energy at the end of the novel. That usually occurs when a writer has failed to do sufficient backstory and character development before beginning. Another sign is that there's an attempt to show character development by showing learning the value of emotional intimacy, the most worn out change in literary history and almost always a sign of insufficient pre-planning" (http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...ostcount=11981)

“Dirty realism” is a term coined by Bill Buford, who wrote in Granta that authors of this style “write about the belly-side of contemporary life – a deserted husband, an unwed mother, a car thief, a pickpocket, a drug addict – but they write about it with a disturbing detachment, at times verging on comedy.” Bob fits this description quite well, I think.

Ray is an unsuccessful (but highly intelligent) architect who struggles to raise his wife’s daughter and provide for the family. Before the gambling sprees, life seems mundane but good for Ray—he loves his woman, he has some money, he has a dog:

"Jewel got a nap, then we ate hamburgers she cooked on the stove, and then we watched television all night, the three of us together. We watched a mystery movie RV and I rented from the video store, and then another one on HBO. There was a thunderstorm. Frank curled up on the rug in front of us, and then on the couch beside RV. It was a perfect night. Even RV seemed to like it. What I wondered, and what Jewel and I talked about before we fell sleep later, was why there weren’t more nights like that, when we were a family, when all of us felt comfortable in our roles, when nothing more than each other’s company was necessary. We didn’t have any answers, but we both knew that night was something to be cherished” (89).

Barthelme’s in a tricky spot: in this scene and throughout the book, he wants to show how the mundane, boring, ugly parts of life can be precious, perhaps even sacred. But to do so effectively means to resist preaching, to resist “telling” in favor of “showing,” as Gioco put it. The bolded part of the quote above is a moment where Barthelme broadcasts the novel's themes somewhat explicitly. Here’s a more glaring example:

"I listened to the rain and to that strange music and felt Jewel’s hand and thought of my mother’s hand, the skin almost translucent now, and of RV, and of my dead father, and of everything that had happened to us, and I wondered why we always try to make thing predictable, when it’s clear that what happens will always be mysterious and peculiar” (207).

Here, Barthelme links the messiness of Ray ’s life with the ineffable lure of the blackjack tables. The passage reads like the author (rather than the character, Ray) is "telling" us something important. Does this mean that the book fails? I don't think so, although I found the book valuable for different reasons. The sections on gambling--esp chapters 12 and 13--were very gripping. To me, the book's more valuable for its socio-psychology (understanding the mind of compulsive gambler) than for its literary quality.

The odd thing about Bob is that it almost has a happy ending. Or, to put it a better way, the book is less sad than I expected. Ray has a meh life, his father dies, he wastes time gambling, he wastes time gambling and loses 35K. In an odd (and maybe implausible) way, Ray’s spree brings him closer to Jewel, RV, and his mom. It wakes him up:

“This isn’t the best I’ve ever felt,” I said. I’m just pawing at things, going through the steps, taking up space where I go. I don’t feel awful or anything, I feel automatic.”
“It gets better,” [Jewel] said” (110).

The problem, of course, is that Ray and Jewel bond through their addiction: even after the catastrophe of a five-digit loss, they decide to bet six grand in a single hand so that they can buy a truck. They bet, they win, they drive to the truck dealership, the book ends. There's no moral or salvation here—just an embrace of life's messiness and unpredictability that, for Ray and Jewel, are best expressed in the turn of a card.

Notes and Questions

Excellent descriptions of the casinos. (p. 4-5)

“where the slot machines lived…” (5) (114)

Also good descriptions of gambling (52)

“A huge burly guy came up. He had a three-day growth of beard and dirty brown hair that sat on his head like an order of chili” (10).

Using sound: “The guy went into a toilet stall and went on counting. I could see his feet as he stood there and went through his stack of hundred-dollar bills. The bills made this flip flip flip sound as he counted” (127).

Bob le Flambeur, or Bob the Gambler, is a French heist movie. Jewel’s daughter RV calls him Bob. lots of references to TV and pop culture throughout.

standard reference to Dostoevsky’s The Gambler (74).

Cliffs: Bob the Gambler is a minimalist novel that follows a couple's compulsive gambling sprees on the Gulf Coast. While much of the novel was forgettable, I thought that the gambling scenes were enthralling. I'd recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the psychology of gambling. For those interested in dirty realism, stick to Ray Carver.
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Old 04-28-2014, 08:52 PM   #202
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

"The Great Canadian Hoops Hope" by Sam Riches: http://narrative.ly/face-of-a-nation...an-hoops-hope/

a piece on Anthony Bennett, the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. I thought it was just ok. I like Riches' writing, he nicely weaves Bennett's story with Toronto's, but I was left wanting to know more about what's at stake: how Bennett is progressing, his own relation to his hometown,

every scene is anchored in place.

"The high-rise towers in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighborhood stretch into the sky in shades of faded brown and gray, but at dusk, lit by the flame of the sun, they glow like the burning end of a match."

"At Ryerson University's Athletic Centre in Toronto’s downtown core, Drew Ebanks sits in the top row of hard plastic bleachers."

The importance of quotes. Bennett isn't quoted directly, which is perhaps appropriate since, on the one hand, the story is less about him than about the place where he grew up. On the other hand, it's always nice to feature the speaker in his own words. Compare with Gay Talese's piece on Sinatra, which makes the most of not having Sinatra's own words to use. Reread tomorrow: http://www.niemanstoryboard.org/2013...ra-has-a-cold/
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:39 PM   #203
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Poker Players: What have you Done For Us Lately? (Or At All?)

"I don't play NL, nor these stakes, but I am guessing it is a decent win rate.
However, I can't see making 20/hr being worth the giant gap in ones resume and lack of societal contribution."


--BrownKeeper (http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...postcount=2356)

“The most difficult aspects of playing poker professionally are coping emotionally with the losses and coping with the recurring idea that you’re not doing anything worthwhile.” —Mike Caro

I Came across BrownKeeper's comment (which he makes almost as an afterthought) about the social utility of playing poker professionally. One answer that pops up is entertainment. One poster wrote in response to Brownkeeper that

"OP contributes to society as an entertainer and artist. He's also part of a whole generation of Americans who will spend much of their youth dealing with unemployment and/or underemployment. So it's no surprise if he can see something you can't."

--weaselbob (http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...postcount=2357

"As for the ethics/what we offer to the world, I often use Michael Phelps as a comparison. He's revered by most people for simply swimming back and forth in a pool. I don't have any problems with what he does- he's part of the entertainment industry which is mandatory (imagine life without it). However, poker players are also part of the entertainment industry. People like me are what eventually allows poker to be televised on ESPN, it allows doctors and lawyers to play poker whenever they want instead of having to schedule games, etc." --Aesah (http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...postcount=3474)

Is the poker-as-entertainer argument convincing? What other arguments exist?
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:30 PM   #204
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" by Gay Talese



"The creativity in journalism is in what you do with what you have. You have an option of nine ways to do it. One is to cover the ****ing game. NYU won, NYU lost. Who hit a home run, who was the winning pitcher. Now, I had the score, but I also wrote about the scorekeeper. These are characters. These are minor characters." --Gay Talese

This long essay has been called "the best profile ever written."

the essay: http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ1...T_SINATRA_rev_

interview with Talese's annotations: http://www.niemanstoryboard.org/2013...ra-has-a-cold/

"FRANK SINATRA, holding a glass of bourbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other, stood in a dark corner of the bar between two attractive but fading blondes who sat waiting for him to say something."

*the whole story is in the opening sentence. he's the center of attention, he, like the blondes, is "fading," we all wait for him to say something but he never speaks, he refuses to be interviewed.

Talese spoke to "at least a hundred" people to write the piece

a favorite sentence: "Undoubtedly the words from this song, and others like it, had put millions in the mood, it was music to make love by, and doubtless much love had been made by it all over America at night in cars, while the batteries burned down, in cottages by the lake, on beaches during balmy summer evenings, in secluded parks and exclusive penthouses and furnished rooms, in cabin cruisers and cabs and cabanas — in all places where Sinatra’s songs could be heard were these words that warmed women, wooed and won them, snipped the final thread of inhibition and gratified the male egos of ungrateful lovers; two generations of men had been the beneficiaries of such ballads, for which they were eternally in his debt, for which they may eternally hate him."

"The two blondes, who seemed to be in their middle thirties, were preened and polished, their matured bodies softly molded within tight dark suits."

<The punctuated alliteration is gorgeous — “preened and polished”; “matured” and “molded”. How much time would you spend on such a sentence?/eg

<Oh, I could spend days. Sometimes these phrases come to you and sometimes they’re terrible. Sometimes you think, “Maybe that’s okay” and you let it in. I throw a lot of stuff away./gt

"He also wore, as everybody seemed to know, a remarkably convincing black hairpiece, one of sixty that he owns, most of them under the care of an inconspicuous little grey-haired lady who, holding his hair in a tiny satchel, follows him around whenever he performs. She earns $400 a week." That last sentence is priceless. Knowing when to include an additional detail.


"The most distinguishing thing about Sinatra’s face are his eyes, clear blue and alert, eyes that within seconds can go cold with anger, or glow with affection, or, as now, reflect a vague detachment that keeps his friends silent and distant."




on representing the subject: Most writers tell us what the subject is doing. You tell us, here, what other people are doing to the subject. Using Sinatra’s fans as a prism through which to view him is illuminating. Do you strive to do this in all your work?/eg <I do it in all my work. I write about fight fans when I deal with Floyd Patterson. I write about what the fans are like, all around him, when he gets knocked out. You feel lovable, he said. So I’m always aware of the recognition of fans, whether it’s at a boxing match or a concert. They’re part of the story. It’s the roving eye, the camera, as if I were a director. It’s the movie director’s sensibility of having people play their part.

On recycling quotations: Marilyn Monroe, who just performed for troops in Korea, told DiMaggio, “You never heard such cheering.” “Yes, I have,” he said. People say, “Oh, Gay, how did you get that? What a great idea.” I didn’t get that. That quote was published. I lifted it out of a magazine article about Marilyn Monroe that was written by Maurice Zolotow. I just clipped it. I took it out and I stuck it in there, and it took on a meaningfulness, a dimension. Hell, I never interviewed Marilyn Monroe. So I sometimes incorporate what has gone obscure in other people’s work. It’s in another context that the quote becomes a gem.

Using a song about Sinatra's daughter, Nancy, to segue into the interview with her:

If I don’t see her each day

I miss her….

Gee what a thrill

Each time I kiss her….


Defining and Surrendering One's Voice

"With most women Sinatra dates, his friends say, he never knows whether they want him for what he can do for them now — or will do for them later. With Ava Gardner, it was different. He could do nothing for her later. She was on top. If Sinatra learned anything from his experience with her, he possibly learned that when a proud man is down a woman cannot help. Particularly a woman on top."

<Was this belief Sinatra’s or yours?/eg <It’s my voice. It’s my deduction of all the research I did. The point is to establish the voice. What I don’t like, if I can avoid it, are direct quotes. If I can avoid a direct quote — and sometimes you cannot or should not — I will. Because what you do, with a direct quote, is surrender your voice.

On Quoting Indirectly. "Unless it’s something that demands credit because they came up with something that is, like, a discovery or an insight — but this is quiet backmatter."
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Old 04-29-2014, 04:33 PM   #205
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

1) Nice discussion of BtG. It makes me want to dig out my old copy (in a box in the garage, I fear) and look back at it. Is it there or in Double Down the narrator talks about keeping his cash in a shirt pocket that buttoned at the top because that felt like the way one should do it in a casino? Don't know why that's stuck with me, but it's little details like that that matter.

2) Excepting the very well-known TV personalities, I think the idea that serious seeking-to-take-your-money-away poker players serve as entertainers is sophistic.
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Old 04-29-2014, 08:14 PM   #206
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Wow, Bob. I love that post on Frank.

'I think the idea that serious seeking-to-take-your-money-away poker players serve as entertainers is sophistic. '

It is incidental that they entertain. Watching television shows about politics might be designed to be entertaining, for its audience be entertainment and indeed politicians might try to entertain as part of their drive for power; but a politician is not an entertainer.

The claim is plausible yet fallacious because it conflates the purpose of the construct of the discourse with the essential features of the participants.

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Old 04-30-2014, 08:53 AM   #207
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Originally Posted by RussellinToronto View Post
1) Nice discussion of BtG. It makes me want to dig out my old copy (in a box in the garage, I fear) and look back at it. Is it there or in Double Down the narrator talks about keeping his cash in a shirt pocket that buttoned at the top because that felt like the way one should do it in a casino? Don't know why that's stuck with me, but it's little details like that that matter.
Pretty sure it's in Bob. There are some wonderful sentences and descriptions in that book. Not sure why these details matter, but they do. Like the one-line sentence in the Frank Sinatra piece that his hairpiece-lady earns 400 bucks a week. Love that.
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Old 04-30-2014, 09:00 AM   #208
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Wow, Bob. I love that post on Frank.

'I think the idea that serious seeking-to-take-your-money-away poker players serve as entertainers is sophistic. '

It is incidental that they entertain. Watching television shows about politics might be designed to be entertaining, for its audience be entertainment and indeed politicians might try to entertain as part of their drive for power; but a politician is not an entertainer.

The claim is plausible yet fallacious because it conflates the purpose of the construct of the discourse with the essential features of the participants.
Glad you liked the post on Frank, Digger! I urge you to read the essay.

If the entertainment value of poker players is incidental, as you suggest, then what are the non-incidental features of poker-players? The "essential features of the participants"?
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Old 04-30-2014, 10:10 AM   #209
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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If the entertainment value of poker players is incidental, as you suggest, then what are the non-incidental features of poker-players? The "essential features of the participants"?
I think the confusion is between the word "entertainers" as we conventionally understand it and the relationship of that word to "entertainment." Games are entertainment but the players are not "entertainers" as that word is conventionally understood.

If I play solitaire for the evening, I am engaging in an act of entertainment but I am not an entertainer (except of the self--and in any case see the next point).

If I play monopoly for the evening I am engaging in an act of entertainment with others. I am, of course, entertaining them as well as myself but that is not what we usually mean when we speak of entertainers. That is why the argument is sophistic: it redefines a word in a way that is possible but that changes its normally agreed-upon meaning in a distracting way and does not acknowledge that move.

If I play poker for the evening, the argument becomes even more complicated. Again I am entertaining others in the sense that the presence of more players than one is needed to make the game possible. But not only is that to redefine the word: games with a clear profit motive may not belong to the same class as games played for recreation only. (At least not for many of the players at the table. That's why we describe only some players as "recreational.") Many, indeed most, players are not entertained if they consistently lose; certainly not if the losses are of sums significant to them. (Those who are in any way entertained by losing consistently are usually considered pathological: cf. Bob the Gambler.)

Thus, a player who has good reason to believe he is the best at the table is deceiving himself if he thinks he is there as an entertainer. He would be entertaining to the other plays if he were a whale.

The confusion here stems from the well-recognized fact that very good players in live games know that they also need to be very entertaining: one of their skills is make the other players feel less bad about losing to them. At this point, there is often only a very small distinction between being an entertainer (as one relatively small and not essential part of one's larger activity) and being a hustler.

But even that argument becomes negligible when we get to online poker. Nosebleed players may offer entertainment to railbirds but that is a very very small percentage of the whole and not something we can use for a definition.

The closest I can come up with as an "essential" feature is that poker answers a deep human need for competition. That notion is inherent in games but not limited to them, as it is a significant part of business and of war and of many other human activities, both trivial and not. Poker occupies a borderline where it may manifest itself as a game for many -- but not all, since it is instead more like a business for others. (Of course it can be both, but it isn't always. We've all read posts from online grinders who are playing 40 tables every day for hours and have long ago stopped viewing this activity as "entertainment.")

The best I can come up with is that poker responds to the same innate drive that makes dogs play-fight with one another -- and sometimes fight not in play. This instinct is what underlies games, of course, but it extends beyond gaming in the usual sense. Humans are among the many organisms that sometimes feel a need to test themselves against others. The benefits are many but it would be silly to ignore the fact that there may be costs as well. Entertainment does not carry the same kind of costs.

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Old 05-01-2014, 08:52 AM   #210
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Glad you liked the post on Frank, Digger! I urge you to read the essay.

If the entertainment value of poker players is incidental, as you suggest, then what are the non-incidental features of poker-players? The "essential features of the participants"?
Well, having reread what I said. I am not particularly happy with the words I used to describe the situation. My response was slightly too glib.

I assumed that it was self-evident that the professional poker player is first and foremostly there to make money from the game. Although, it could be argued that each and every instance of TV poker does not necessarily have participants seeking to gain directly from the money in the pot but rather are exploiting other means of accuring value by entertaining the audience and not just the 'fish'. So, there could easily be players who lose at the game who win out of the context of being in the game e.g. Phil Hellmuth possibly might be an example of this or not.

But, perhaps, the most important regret I have about my choice of words: is that I think performativity is an essential part of our encounter with the world. Within the context of a poker game we are all to some extent performing (whereby we mean we are disclosing of 'ourselves' something different or a part of that which we would otherwise be).

Having said all of that - I do not disagree with the sensible and well written analysis of Russell above.
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Old 05-01-2014, 10:43 AM   #211
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Poker Face: A Girlhood Among Gamblers by Katy Lederer (Broadway Books, 2004)



My mother wasn't happy when I told her I was coming.
"I thought you'd be the normal one," she said. "I don't want another gambler."
"But I don't really want to gamble, that's not why I'm coming, I just want to write."
"What's the difference?" she said. "It's all weirdness, just weirdness, and I don't know what happened." (119)

In Poker Face (2004) Katy Lederer, the younger sister of Howard and Annie, writes about life in a family of gamblers. The book is less about poker than family—or, to put it differently, Katy uses poker as a lens by which to examine her family and its obsession with competition, games, and money. Katy’s mom and dad were well-educated, her older siblings were talented, the family was intensely competitive: “We children gleaned that intelligence was the most important thing in the world. It was what we should strive for, whatwe should brag about, it was the defining characteristic of our humanity. Our parents didn’t much care whether or not we got good grades in school. Winning at games was what mattered” (38). Backgammon, chess, and cards were an excuse for battle; they enabled competition.

I agree with Russell's insightful post above that, at bottom, poker is about competition. It satisfies our need to test ourselves against others--sometimes those who are closest to us. Others—especially retirees and older folks—go to the table for community, for a stability and structure that no longer exists. Some people like the attention, the way that someone’s eyes dart over your body when you sit down or when you drag a nice pot; for others the reverse may be true: the table’s a place to escape, to blend in as another anonymous grinder in a sea of faces.

For Katy, her attraction to Las Vegas is a weird mix of competition and intimacy. In the absence of a stable home life, Vegas is the closest she gets to her brother, sister, and mom. "At dusk I would go to play poker again, mechanically shifting the gears of the car, darting from corner to corner till I reached the Mirage. It was a gleaming, incredibly beautiful building, bright and sublime as a new bar of gold, and I loved walking slowly through its glass double doors, toward the room where my sister and brother played cards. Was I there to learn poker or to feel like a part of the family? I guess both” (151).

Class conflict and insecurity is everywhere in this book—from chapters entitled “Old Money” and “New Money” to the family's struggle to live among the elite—Katy’s father taught "bluebloods" at a Northeastern prep school—to Fitzgerald and Wharton references. The Lederers are unhip, unwealthy, and Jewish (a detail that Katy only mentions briefly, focusing more on class difference). Hence their attraction to poker, sports betting, and Vegas, which offered them a seductive kind of financial salvation. At first, the Lederer family regarded poker and gambling as “vulgar,” an activity that was somehow beneath them. And yet all of them, excepting Katy’s father, moved to Vegas and immersed themselves in the gambling lifestyle—especially Howard and Annie, of course, but also their Mom and, to a lesser degree, Katy herself, who eventually picks writing over poker. (As an interesting aside, Katy worked for a NYC hedge fund, which further reflects the family's fascination with money and finance.)



Poker and Writing, Notes and Questions

I found this apt and amusing: “In the end, it wasn’t altogether impossible for me to adjust to the gambler’s relationship with his action, for it resembles to a close degree the writer’s relationship with his writing. When things are going well, all is cheerful and bright in the world, but when things are going badly, a glumness comes to dominate the atmosphere, like a tenebrous cloud hanging over your head, intermittently storming. No matter the fluctuations in outcome or mood, however, the absolute worst thing imaginable is to never again be in action, to never again write a word; that would be like death, which, no matter what your stake or expectation, is infinitely worse than waiting for your luck to turn” (135).

Also reminds me of nick the greek’s remark that the next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing, that staying in action is the thing.

Playing poker and writing about it involve the same challenge, the same paradox. Katy argues that, during a poker game, the cardinal sin isn't playing weak card or calculating odds incorrectly; it's becoming emotionally involved. "While the game requires that you fully engage with other players at the table, that you pay attention to their quirks and personalities, you're not supposed to identify with them in any way. You are, in other words, expected to empathize with your opponents while remaining devoid of all compassion. It is very hard to do" (154)

Indeed, empathizing without emotion is hard if not impossible, a tactic that Katy also struggles with when she writes about the game. How is it possible to "know" subjects that hide behind sunglasses, hoodies, and poker faces? Why even bother writing about these people who, in the words of Howard and Annie, are merely “a dumb cliché,” a stick figure not worth knowing or writing about. (Jonathan Maxwell's Cards: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...4&postcount=60, poker and empathy: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/sh...7&postcount=57)


Katy tries to capture these figures but, in her view, she fails: “Fitzgerald or Wharton—a truly great writer about money could have found originality in all of that cliché, could have found the ticking truth behind the faces and the chips. I, however, could not. It all retained the feel of sheen, and I gave up rather quickly—not only on attempting to describe all the gamblers, but also on seeing my way through their manners and means. With or without the notes, I couldn’t seem to empathize” (160). To be fair, I think that Katy writes some very nice poker scenes. They come closest to Alvarez in evoking a kind of romantic realism of playing at the table.

**Who are the great writers of money? Really need to read more Fitzgerald given how much I like Gatsby.

**How to get beyond the sheen? Writing good character is about motive—finding what makes someone tick, honoring their complexity and their desires. The difficulty/paradox of writing about poker players is that deception is expected, encouraged—hence “the poker face,” the glasses. Colson Whitehead’s book might be about this.

**"[Luck] resembles nothing more than a mangled version of hope” (50).

Cliffs

Katy Lederer's Poker Face is a gracefully written story about growing up in family of gamblers. Those interested in Howard's and Annie's backstory will appreciate this book, as will readers interested in the craft of writing (Katy is a poet and graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop; the woman can write). Despite early portraits of Erik Seidel, Mickey Applebaum, and Doyle, there's little poker action in this book.
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Old 05-01-2014, 07:16 PM   #212
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

playing with some equities.

Stacks and Reads:

Jupiter (20$): weak/passive, has limped QQ/AA
Jacyjake (20$), no reads
Bob_124 (hero): covers

Big Shark_06: calls .50, hero raises to 2.50 with TT, Jacyjake minreraises to 4.50, Jupiter flats 4.50, action folds to hero.

I'm assuming no fold equity preflop. At what point can hero profitably stick money in pre?

13.50 in the pot + 16.50 from Jacy's stack + 16.50 from Jupiter

risking 16.5 to win 46.5 or 2.8 to 1 or 26% equity needed.

Looser Range

Jacy (QQ+, AK): 46.5%
Jupiter (TT+, most broadways): 26%
TT has 26%, JJ has 28%, QQ has 33%, AQs has 21%, AKo has 25%

Tighter Range

Jacy (QQ-AA): 61%
Jupiter (TT-QQ, AQs+): 21%
TT has 16%, AQs has 19%, AKo has 22%, KK has 39%

What if Jupiter isn't in the pot?

9 in the pot + 16.50 from Jacy's stack

risking 16.5 to win 1.5 1 or 40% equity needed.

tighter range:

Jacy (QQ-AA, AK)
TT has 36%, QQ+, AKs has 40% or better

Looser Range (TT+, AQo+)
TT has 40%, AQ has 39% and AKo has almost 50%...huge jump.
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Old 05-04-2014, 08:41 PM   #213
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RussellinToronto View Post

The closest I can come up with as an "essential" feature is that poker answers a deep human need for competition. That notion is inherent in games but not limited to them, as it is a significant part of business and of war and of many other human activities, both trivial and not. Poker occupies a borderline where it may manifest itself as a game for many -- but not all, since it is instead more like a business for others. (Of course it can be both, but it isn't always. We've all read posts from online grinders who are playing 40 tables every day for hours and have long ago stopped viewing this activity as "entertainment.")

The best I can come up with is that poker responds to the same innate drive that makes dogs play-fight with one another -- and sometimes fight not in play. This instinct is what underlies games, of course, but it extends beyond gaming in the usual sense. Humans are among the many organisms that sometimes feel a need to test themselves against others. The benefits are many but it would be silly to ignore the fact that there may be costs as well. Entertainment does not carry the same kind of costs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DiggertheDog View Post

I assumed that it was self-evident that the professional poker player is first and foremostly there to make money from the game.
I think the question "why play?" is interesting, and that, for many players, making money is not the sole or even the chief reason for playing. I tend to agree with Russell that poker--and games in general--satisfy our need for competition. My guess is that for many poker players, like professional athletes, money is a (very nice) byproduct of an activity that they pursue for other reasons.

What are some reasons that people play poker (and games in general)?

money
pleasure--cuz it feels good. duh!
flexibility--Andrew Brokos has mentioned a kind of means-to-an-end argument in which poker (and the money he makes from it) enables him to do other things that he wouldn't otherwise have the time/freedom to pursue, like travel, help out the highschool debate team, etc
socializing--poker is a "people" game, it's in a casino, it can be fun to sit and chat.
community/structure. I believe that this is especially true of retirees or people without fixed schedules.
ego ("competition")
self-improvement--proponents of the game often mention that poker requires discipline, patience, mental acuity, and self-control. I think this is largely true although you can also argue that the game (and/or the culture) leads to negative habits
escape/diversion--from family, society, or other obligations.
family--rare but, as we see from Katy Lederer's book, some poker players grow up playing the game and get comfort from staying within the poker subculture (Todd Brunson might be another example)

what else should be added to this list?
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Old 05-05-2014, 02:10 AM   #214
DiggertheDog
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

To what extent are any of those rationalisations?
Some for others within the list.
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Old 05-05-2014, 01:11 PM   #215
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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To what extent are any of those rationalisations?
Some for others within the list.
I'm not sure what you mean.
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Old 05-05-2014, 01:47 PM   #216
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Bluff-catching vs spazz

Reads
sb (hero): 200. Probably viewed as a lag who can be pushed around. villain has been c/raising like crazy during our heads-up match on another table.

BB (villain): covers. a decent spazz prone to tilt. "Decent" in the sense of playing both strong hands and bluffs aggressively, which balances his range and allows him to steamroll most players in these games (nosebleed playmoney).

example: villain calls sb raise with Q6o, calls cbet on K52 board, raises bet on K turn, shoves blank river (he was called, by 99). I've seen him take precisely this line for value.

Might be on semi-tilt; when that happens he openshoves or reshoves his stack with any pair and sooted broadways.

action folds to hero, who raises TT to 6, villain calls.

Flop 544 (12). hero bets 8, villain raises to 28, hero raises to 48, villain calls.

Villain's range for raising this flop is extremely wide: flush draws, straight draws, a four, and complete air. He might even raise a five or midpair, though less likely. By 3betting this flop I'm regaining the initiative and taking a bluffy line that will often induce villain to play back light. When he flats I can take some air out of his range, but I believe that he would call with some flush draws, straight draws, 5s, 4s, and midpairs.

Turn A (108). Hero checks, villain bets 48, hero...

maybe the nut worst card. My hand is a bluff catcher that can still beat air and a pairs that he's turning into a bluff. At the same time, flushes, Ax hands, and sets are crushing me.

Would appreciate feedback on any street
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Old 05-06-2014, 03:09 AM   #217
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I would 3b bigger OTF, c/f turn is fine, you are right that is terrible card.
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:18 AM   #218
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

"Three Little Words" by Roy Peter Clark



the story: http://www2.sptimes.com/3Words/Default.html

Summary: "In 1989 Jane Morse’s husband, Mick, tells her he has AIDS and, as Clark writes, Jane suddenly suspects that her long marriage has been a lie. A reader may at first keep reading this 29-installment series—each piece designed to be read over a quick cup of morning coffee—in pursuit of intrigue. But before long, Clark has effectively raised larger issues surrounding AIDS, death and dying, and social attitudes toward homosexuality. By the end we care about the series’ characters and better understand the social context in which their lives played out." http://www.niemanstoryboard.org/2004...-little-words/

I chose this story, which first appeared as a 1996 serial narrative in the St. Petersburg Times, because Clark's book on writing is great: http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Tools-.../dp/0316014990. Lots of tips written in clear prose and short chapters.

I also work in medical humanities, which uses art to explore topics in medicine, and Porter's story touches on many crucial issues like AIDS, caregiving, death and dying, gay culture, and public health.

creating repetition

"three little words": what are they? well, the words change.

"Three little words. Not 'I love you.' But "I have AIDS.'"

As the story continues, more appear: "What about me?," "they made love," "I trust you," "What about you?"each chapter heading has three words.

Having fun with names

Mick Morse is a laconic father who rarely communicates. Hence the "Morse Code" that describes the way Mick treats his family.

Creating distance, creating intimacy

Mick is unknowable, he's an enigma. Not even his wife, Jane, can get through to him. Porter creates distance by telling his story through impersonal means--like his highschool yearbook, which contains trite messages from Mick's friends and early photos. We can only "know" him indirectly and imperfectly. He rarely speaks in his own words. Another scene, the family's final Christmas together, describes the grainy videotape in which Mick's body, horribly wasted from the disease, flits on and off the screen.
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:22 AM   #219
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by pure_aggression View Post
I would 3b bigger OTF, c/f turn is fine, you are right that is terrible card.
Thanks pure.

I wonder how the situation changes if the ace changes to a lower spade. I've been meaning to do some work with combinatorics and this hand seems like a good one. I'll come back to this when I have some time, here are a few resources to remember:

intro to hand combinations: http://www.thepokerbank.com/strategy...-combinations/
video on combinatorics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCxMhncR7PU

exercises: http://www.flopturnriver.com/pokerfo...ns-178296.html
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Old 05-06-2014, 09:55 AM   #220
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Sub gl bro
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:46 PM   #221
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Originally Posted by !uSwEEt! View Post
Sub gl bro
Thanks!


I wanted to mention an important book that came out today: Colson Whitehead's The Noble Hustle. NPR interview here: http://www.npr.org/2014/05/03/308751...ntent=20140505

This is a rare and important event for poker-playing readers like myself, since there's bound to be a lot of press surrounding this release. Whitehead's a major writer and a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (the "genius grant"), so I have high hopes for this book. I'll post a review within the week.
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Old 05-06-2014, 12:51 PM   #222
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Thx, looking forward to the review.

Really enjoying your frequent posts lately about well selected articles. Haven't finished the Anthony Bennett one yet, but some of it might have to do with the pain afflicted upon me due to the Toronto Raps losing in 7...
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:32 PM   #223
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

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Originally Posted by Dubnjoy000 View Post
Thx, looking forward to the review.

Really enjoying your frequent posts lately about well selected articles. Haven't finished the Anthony Bennett one yet, but some of it might have to do with the pain afflicted upon me due to the Toronto Raps losing in 7...
thanks, Dubn, plenty more to come. Sorry about your Raps, they put up a great fight. I think this might have been the best first round the NBA's ever seen. Who you rooting for now?
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Old 05-06-2014, 01:57 PM   #224
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

Yeah, it was quite an amazing first round, and quite surprising for a sport that usually sees the favorite team win easily... Probably OKC, Clips, Indiana, in that order. But to be frank, I want to see anyone not named Miami Heat win it.

Were you disappointed with the first round exit by the Houston Rockets?
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Old 05-06-2014, 02:03 PM   #225
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Re: The Poker Project (playing and writing about poker in the U.S.)

An early review of The Noble Hustle: http://www.latimes.com/books/jacketc...504-story.html

"Whitehead barely delves into the history of poker or the non-shtick reasons for its appeal. He admits as much: The article would "be like one of those piece where someone does a thing for a year and then writes about it. … But instead of one year, it would be two months, because of time constraints and my short attention span on account of the internet." Two months in, "Noble Hustle" out."

The need for a longitudinal study of the subject. Two months isn't nearly enough. Does Whitehead understand the game? Does he bother to try?

"The gap between literary novelists and the rest of America has never been greater, and Whitehead is unwilling, or unable, to bridge it. We don't talk about class in this country, but the folks who play poker and buy poker books by the millions don't read literary novels. Both sides are worse off for it."



Well...yea. Which is why, when someone like Al Alvarez casts his gaze onto poker, the effect is electric. How to bridge the gap? Writers like David Foster Wallace (mentioned in the review) offer an example.

Damn..the review is harsh. Looking forward to reading the book for myself.
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