Monday, March 02, 2009

Too Much Poker? Too Much TV? Or Maybe Too Much Hypocrisy?

A combo-post today - hopefully something to think about! This was triggered by a seemingly large uptick in the number of "My friends / family have abandoned me" whinging poker player posts popping up all over the web... and some long-standing personal thoughts about the utter pervasiveness of TV in the lives of so many people.

So, those posts.

The kind of people who write them have just turned their first profits at the poker tables and are (say 4 to 6 months in) now obsessing about the possibilities, learning skills at a rapid rate and have probably just started to multi-table.

They give up social lives, girl / boyfriends, college, friends, family, sport, health and a balanced lifestyle in the pursuit of poker stardom. When people who genuinely care ask questions whether their poker 'career' is the right choice then they are usually demonised and assumed to be stupid / not understanding that poker is a game of skill / some loser who works for others* etc etc

Of course this picture is an extreme - yet plenty of people exactly like this exist out there - mostly in a somewhat less severe form... but with the damage to their lives occuring none the less.

If you are spending all of your time either playing, reading or thinking about poker to the detriment of real relationships and balanced fun life then stop and think now. If you have fallen out with one person due to poker then it is already having a negative impact on your life - let me say it again your life.

The usual counter is that it will all be worth it 'when I become a big name pro who is simply swimming in cash'.

Haha, good luck to you - and I genuinely mean it.

Facts suggest that for every success there are 10,000 who fail - maybe not completely, many will make small but liveable money 'grinding' for a couple of years before getting sick of it and moving on. The set back in life that their poker obsession gave them may linger for many years... though many get will back on track.

Is this you? Plan3t Gong never preaches - only asks questions to provoke thinking... step back, take a look at how poker balances with life and correct that balance... 2 to 3 evenings a week should be enough for even the most dedicated poker fan right??

Too Much TV??

Ah yes, the methodone metronome sucking the lives away from 100's of millions every day and every night. I have always had an issue with TVs, unfortunately there have not been many times in life when I lived alone to exist without one (though most of those times when I did live alone mostly proudly dispensed of them!).

Now the thing that gets me most about TV is not that it goes on as soon as the house is occupied, not that someone can plan to watch something and then flick for the 'least bad' alternative once it is over, it is not the fact that those who watch TV actually feel that they are doing something when actually they are just sitting there staring at moving pictures, it is not the (generally mid-IQ but socially inept) who proclaim that 'documentaries are the best' and provide great education, it is not the masses who believe every statistic, news story and 'report' without questioning the sources.... nope it is.... wait for it:

The fact that you are seen as somehow 'unreasonable' or even 'odd' if you ask (just once) for the TV to be switched off.

I mean, what kind of wierdo asks for the TV to go off? What kind of social freak does not understand that it is everyones right to stare open mouthed at yet another advert break?

You would like to talk instead??!?!


You get the picture by now...

Too Much Hypocrisy??

So, time to bring these two themes together.

Those very people who proclaim that poker is a 'problem' are the ones glued to their TV sets. Its not fair huh? You can not critisize their passtime but they get to critisize yours all they like? If you ask them to turn off the TV you are being 'difficult for no reason', if they ask you to play less poker they are ' trying to help you overcome your terrible addiction'.

Well I have set my stall out, I am (very much) pro poker and (very very much) anti-TV (though I will watch films these days!). Yet I actually think that the poker players who lose friends / family relationships / their health etc are the ones with the problem here.

At the end of the day what is socially acceptable to the masses becomes what we can loosely call 'societies rules'... if we want to step outside of those rules then it is up to us as poker players to make enough allowances, enough adjustments to our interactions with significant others and enough balance in life as a whole to show people that our game is recreation (yeah, and profit) and not some terrible affliction.

While there are those forum posters who fall out with everyone over poker, get fat and drop out of college the image of poker will be that of a destructive force... now would it not be great if having a game of poker online became just as mild and harmless as turning on the TV!!

GL at the tables, Mark


Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thoughtful post, Mark. Funny you should write it after all of that poker-related TV last night (which everyone else seems to be writing about today). I missed all of that, though -- the snowstorm knocked out our signal.

Kind of peaceful, it was.

Anonymous said...

Nice One!

Mark said...

Thanks gents - Poker on the TV is another subject all together.

My first experience of Holdem was from the Channel 4 'Late Night Poker' in the UK in the late 90's (i think!)... Devilfish et al!