|ESPN.com: Page 2||[Print without images]|
And not just any gun. Not a gun, for example, operated by computer from half-a-world away. No, we are talking about a small hand-held gun, and a simple message: "Move on peacefully, stranger, or die like a dog in the street." Why, it's the ultimate teaching device. Think about some of our great cultural heroes -- Humphrey Bogart in "Casablanca" ... George S. Patton and Douglas MacArthur ... Johnny Unitas ... Clint Eastwood in the "Dirty Harry" and Man With No Name movies ... John Wayne in just about anything ... Vince Lombardi and Bobby Knight ... Michael Corleone and Tony Soprano ... Ronald Reagan and his spiritual son, George W. Bush. They're all "My way or the highway" guys who know better than you what's right and what's wrong, and who, for the common good, would be willing to kill you in the process of saving you from your own lost self. Before I embarked on my year-long journey as Page 2's "poker pro," I had this theory -- that our top-flight players are the modern equivalent of the lone gunfighter. Think about it. The 19th-century gunfighter had to walk into a dimly-lit saloon, check out the louts lounging around (all complete strangers), figure out which ones were dangerous and which were wussies, then, based on the most subtle of reads, make a snap judgment about which ones he could take and which ones he had to avoid. And if he was wrong ... well, that was the last time he would be. In other words, it was a life that consisted of going all-in every single time. As Mike Sexton, the lead announcer for the World Poker Tour, has so wisely put it, "Going all-in is a great play ... except once." The 21st-century poker player has to walk into well-lit casinos, check out the louts lounging around the tables (mostly complete strangers), figure out which ones are dangerous and which are wussies, and make snap judgments about which he can take and which he has to avoid. And if he is wrong ... well, bye-bye, bankroll. As it turns out, my theory holds up in most ways, though there are a few differences. The big one: Poker players, for the most part, are loathe to accept full responsibility for their own fates. In fact, their primary vehicle for "communicating" with one another is the bad beat story. As Phil Hellmuth has said, "If it wasn't for [bad] luck, I'd win every time." For the gunfighter, there was no such thing as a bad beat story. If he suffered a bad beat -- if his gun jammed at an inopportune moment, say, or he wound up with the sun in his eyes -- there was nobody left alive to tell the tale, a circumstance for which the gunfighter's few friends were undoubtedly grateful. The point is that gunfighters had few professional friends -- "This town ain't big enough for both of us, pardner" -- and neither do poker players. It's an occupational hazard I became keenly aware of soon after I arrived in Las Vegas at the beginning of my journey.
|Got a poker problem or want more details about Jay's poker adventure? Send in your questions and comments.|
|The Hendon Mob, perhaps the friendliest guys in the poker world.|
|Have you become obsessed with poker too? Well, no worries -- Page 2 has launched its very own poker section. Check it out.|
|Barny Boatman (right) of the Hendon Mob played against our very own Jackpot Jay (left).|