Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Stay strong, Virginia TechIn the first part of Barry Greenstein’s Ace on the River: An Advanced Poker Guide, Greenstein introduces the “Poker World.” After detailing his own career as a player, he then tells of various characters and behaviors one should expect to encounter in poker rooms. Amid the discussion appears a brief section titled “Insensitivity of some gamblers” -- really just an excuse to share a few anecdotes that demonstrate the occasional callousness one finds among some famous poker players.

For example, the first such story concerns the legendary Johnny Moss (winner of the 1970, 1971, and 1974 WSOP Main Events). Moss was in the midst of enduring a losing session when the wife of a player who had recently died called him to ask if he’d help pay for the funeral. “I’m losing my money to live people,” Moss responded. “I don’t have any for the dead.”

I would imagine that even the most thick-skinned among us had to experience at least a twinge of sorrow at the news of yesterday’s tragedy at Virginia Tech. Today we awoke to more details about what happened yesterday morning at West Ambler Johnston dormitory and then later in four different classrooms at Norris Hall. The sheer brutality demonstrated by the shooter exceeds comprehension. So does the enormity of the event, something newspaper editors tried vainly to communicate via the large fonts of today’s front page headlines.

Reading those articles this morning, I realized what grieves me the most about what happened. I’d be upset no matter where such a horror took place. But what really bothers me is how most of it happened in classrooms.

I’ve spent a great deal of my life in college classrooms. Most of that time has been especially positive. I’m not going to rehearse all of the tired clichés here about the importance of learning and education and thinking critically and so on. Those of you who have spent time in college classrooms or on college campuses know what generally happens there, and how special and important those places can be. And how the world needs places like that where we can go and figure things out.

College campuses also happen to be places where some of the best, most edifying examples of community exist in our troubled world. That’s a good thing for those at Virginia Tech right now. No one there has to go through this alone.

So while my thoughts are more than a little occupied with my Vegas trip this week, I thought I’d at least acknowledge here that despite occasional evidence to the contrary, we poker players ain’t uniformly insensitive to what’s happening away from the tables.

Stay strong, Virginia Tech.



Blogger Swifty said...

I seriously thought about dedicating an entry onto my blog on this horrible event, bearing in mind that one or two US bloggers may take a look every now and then but decided against it.

This was mainly because I thought it was a little bit sickly on my part and it might have seemed insincere.

So thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my shock and condolences on an American blog.

I understand your comments in connection with classrooms. My son is ten years old. Every day I expect him to come home, safe and well. Say no more...

4/18/2007 4:03 AM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Thanks, cell.

4/22/2007 5:58 PM  

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