Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Game for All Situations

Life is like a jokeLast week, the Poker Shrink wrote a post in which he shared a few “random thoughts,” one of which was to say he is “not a big fan of the ‘Poker is like Life’ books and articles.” His primary objection has to do with the fact that such comparisons are usually “too general to carry any more wisdom than a dribble glass.”

I’m with the Shrink on this one. I even claim over in my long-outdated profile that readers will not be finding any “of that dizzy ‘poker-is-like-life-because’ applesauce” on the blog, followed by an explanation that “Nothing is ‘like’ life, by the way -- either it’s living or it ain’t.”

About a year ago, I wrote a post in which I tried to explain further what I meant by that bit of sass. In that post, I joked about seeing a house for sale being advertised as “close to everything,” arguing that one gets about as much meaning out of saying poker -- or anything, for that matter -- is “like life.” Gonna have to be a little more precise than that, friend, to say anything at all.

Of course, that isn’t to say I won’t sometimes use poker analogies to explain particular non-pokery phenomena. Who doesn’t? Was kinda-sorta doing as much yesterday with that post about running that included a couple of indirect comparisons of my new exercise routine to poker.

But that’s a much more specific exercise (pun intended).

For example, over the last couple of days I’ve found myself in a few conversations about the Carolina Panthers’ shockingly awful playoff performance against the Arizona Cardinals this past Saturday. You might have missed it. The Panthers were big favorites and playing at home, and got crushed 33-13, with quarterback Jake Delhomme throwing five interceptions and losing a fumble, too. Just miserable. (And on his friggin’ birthday, too!)

Jake DelhommeAfter the second or third interception, Delhomme pretty obviously had come altogether unglued. He hardly seemed able to function. He kept stubbornly firing balls to receivers who were double- and triple-teamed. In other words, he’d become the football equivalent of someone on tilt. And frankly, the poker metaphor was so apt it seemed (to me, at least) to shed genuine light on what had happened Saturday night.

Basically, before he’d even gotten warmed up, Delhomme had lost a couple of big ones and gotten unsettled. Then he started playing emotionally, making poor decisions and acting desperately in order to get it all back as quickly as possible. And, as often happens to guys who play that way, such rash, undisciplined behavior just made it worse.

Speaking of using poker analogies to describe non-poker situations, yesterday I was watching CNN’s “The Situation Room” (where situations are always sure to be situated) and heard Wolf Blitzer reporting on how Roland Burris, the man picked by embattled Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to fill president-elect Obama’s now-vacant senate seat, was in fact going to able to take the seat sometime this week. That despite the Democrats’ obvious desire not to allow Blagojevich -- who presently faces federal arrest charges accusing him, among other things, of soliciting bribes in exchange for the very senate seat appointment -- to be allowed to make such a decision.

The Situation RoomBlitzer then spoke to Dana Bash, CNN’s correspondent on Capitol Hill. Blitzer asked Bash to explain how the Democratic leadership so quickly changed their tune after many of their highest-ranking members had said last week they wouldn’t allow the appointment to be made. Bash responded by saying “the bottom line is that Rod Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois, called the bluff of the Democratic leadership” by going ahead and selecting Burris.

Bash then went on to tell a “quick anecdote” about a conversation she’d had yesterday morning with a “senior Democratic senator” concerning the Burris situation. “I was talking to him getting into the elevator,” said Bash. “And this senator said, look, when you’re dealt a losing hand, you skip to the end. And that is precisely why you have seen this turnabout inside the Democratic leadership. And they’re going to seat Roland Burris later this week.”

Blitzer responded with a clarification: “When you are dealt a losing hand, you quickly fold. And that’s what they apparently did.”

Of course, in this case, it sure seemed like the Dems put in a hefty raise and stuck around a street or two with their losing hand before dumping it, but no matter. We get the idea. Thanks, poker.

Poker may not be not “like” life, but it sometimes helps in the explainin’.

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Blogger Rock said...

I have referred to JD as "Tilting Jake" for years. Getting him rattled has been the surest way to defeat the Panthers for some time now. I was surprised that the Cardinals could do it since usually it requires a pig pass rush to shake his cage, but they certainly did it. My first glimpse of Jake on the sideline after halftime told me that he had not regained his composure and that therefore the Panthers had no real shot at a comeback.

1/13/2009 7:47 AM  
Blogger Julius_Goat said...

You really pushed all-in and doubled-up with this post. Well played.

1/13/2009 9:53 AM  

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