Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A week between posts? Yikes, that's some kind of record for me.

Gentle reader, fix yourself a real stiff drink for this one because it prolly ain't gonna make you feel comfortable. It's making me queasy just starting to write it.

Plus I'm loaded. 4AM loaded.
As in delete-this-post-tommorrow-when-I-wake-up-not-loaded.

The holidays were rough for the wife's family. Empty place at the table - huge void as Jen was the epitome of a good-looking, outgoing, bubbly blonde, center-of-attention girl. Her mom, my wife's sister, is an elementary schoolteacher and she finally took a leave of absence from work. I'm happy they allowed her to do so.

Fuck, how can you console someone inconsolable?
It's tough getting old, trying to soak up more and more grief.

My antidote over these crummy times was plenty of Guinness and complete immersion into poker. As if I wasn't already fully immersed. And man, I'm really starting to pay the price. I've lost feeling in the fingertips in one of my hands due to carpal tunnel. Damn tingly sciatic nerve.

My mom tells me that you trade in your psychological problems for physical ones when you turn 40. Sounds about right.

Anyway, there's gotta be a clever poker sniglet for this injury somewhere.

So I've been fitted for a brace, blah blah blah.

It's ironic that this carpal tunnel has kicked in because I've been hitting the boat nearly every damn day these past two weeks. I really love being a pseudo-regular in the poker room. I've always wanted to do that. Potential fodder for a future book, if nothing else.

I'm all set for Vegas. Eight days and counting....Go read Pauly if you don't know what I'm talking about. I'm already preparing myself by sleeping during the days - much to my wife's chagrin.

But she's still uber-supportive. Playing poker for a living drives me far more crazy than her. Of course, she never has to experience the downswings and emotional rollercoasters that I do - I mean, there's a certain satisfaction that comes from waking up and doing a job. I've never, ever NOT had a job. For whatever reason, it's always felt rewarding to do a day's work and then come home and have free time. That's always been my life.

But free time now is different.
It's a constant, if I want it to be.

I'm only gonna say this once.
I made more money playing poker this year than I did in my corporate job last year.

Best of all, I don't have to wear pants.
Lucky me.

It's funny but the cardroom has exposed me to some serious characters. Not on the Vegas level but still...there are some brutal folks sitting around the table. I've avoided unleashing myself upon any of the folks, mostly because I live by the dictum - Don't Shit Where You Eat. But I've witnessed some cruel ribbing lately.

It's a fact but cruel jokes are a big part of life in any environment where action freaks, poker addicts and obsessive/compulsive gambling junkies are ripped to the tits day and night for 15 hours straight on their own adrenaline and swollen more and more each day with a kind of hubris that comes when you try to steer Ambition and Money all at once.

It's a rush. Some folks will say it's better than any drug they've ever done but that raises unsettling personal questions that I'd rather not address here. Sure, I've had days or nights like that but they are very rare and I really can't remember them. But when I do - it's like an old wound - like a nail thru your ear, or a shoulder surgery. The pain ebbs away but the wound stays forever. The scar never quite heals right - - and whenever it seems like its going to, I'll scratch it. I have some scars that go back 40 years and I still remember how they happened - just like it was yesterday.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about some of the hapless regular losers in my game. Not everybody is comfortable with the idea that poker is a guilty addiction - but it is. Or it can be.

I'm continually shocked when I'm hit up for loans from some of these guys. I suppose I shouldn't be, I'm not the naive type, but I clearly don't look as bright as I am. And fuck, most of these guys don't even know NOT to play table games. It's stunning.

I used to think, "Hell, they're prolly a trust-fund baby or somehow independantly wealthy." No harm, no foul. I mean, how else could they afford to come blow money at the boat every freaking day?

But now I admit I know better. Some of them are addicts. They are guilty and cheat, steal and lie - just like any other junkie. And when they get into a frenzy, they will sacrifice anything and anybody to feed their deeply retarded habit and there is no cure for it. They don't care about anything else.

They are salmon and they must spawn. They are addicts, and perhaps, on some level, so am I.

The fish hear their music and I hear mine.

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