Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On Poker and Driving

Shamus drivingI am coming ever closer to a milestone here on Hard-Boiled Poker. Have been aware of it for a few weeks now -- seeing it on the horizon, so to speak -- and watching now as it approaches ever closer. Will probably be sometime next week when I finally get there, at which point I’ll post some sort of marker here to commemorate the occasion.

That word “milestone” implies a certain metaphor, of course, comparing -- in this case -- the writing of posts to a physical journey, as though I were hurtling down some road with mile markers periodically indicating my progress.

I’ve mentioned before here how my “real” job involves my having a significant commute to and from work. Thus do I spend a lot time each week behind the wheel, trying to get from here to there.

If I were to plot out all my activities each week, calculating to the minute how much time I spend doing every little thing, I’d probably discover that the amount of time I spend driving rivals almost every other activity I do (aside from sleeping). I write a lot, but I drive just as much. And I play poker quite a bit, but again, each week I’m likely driving at least as many hours, if not more.

While I often listen to podcasts or music during my drive, sometimes I shut everything off and let my mind wander. No surprise, I suppose, that my thoughts often will become occupied with poker.

The other day I found myself thinking about how poker sometimes resembles driving. I’m sure this analogy has occurred to many other players. You know, some jerk cuts you off, and you feel like you’ve just been check-raised. In fact, I’d be surprised if I haven’t written something about it before on the blog. I’m not sure about that, though. It has been a long trip here, after all.

It was this Rush Poker over on Full Tilt -- which I’ve been playing quite a bit over the last week -- that encouraged these thoughts this time. I’m not so sure about the name, really, but I guess it does successfully connote the idea that we’re dealing with a faster variant of the game. I talked about it some last week, how in my experience I’m playing about three times as many hands per hour in the Rush Poker game than in the regular ring games.

In Rush Poker, when you fold a hand, you’re immediately taken to a new table and dealt new cards (i.e., you don’t have to wait for the hand to play out). In other words, you just keep on driving, like on the interstate. No stop lights or signs to hold you up. Never have to wait for that train to cross. Just put on the cruise control and go go go.

Relatively speaking, the regular ring games are more like driving in the city. Of course, even there (we easily forget) we’re most certainly rushing around quite a bit. Anyone who has played both live and online poker knows the latter tends to provide about twice the hands per hour -- and that’s just if you’re playing a single table. Call up two, three, four, or sixteen tables, and you’re back on the interstate, always in action, always moving.

Metaphors Be With YouThe literary critic and theorist I.A. Richards once provided an influential definition of what a metaphor is (in his 1936 book, The Philosophy of Rhetoric). There he explained that a metaphor is made up of two parts -- the “tenor” and the “vehicle.” The tenor would be whatever it is you are trying to describe, while the vehicle would be whatever you’ve borrowed from elsewhere to try to help you describe it.

For example, Paul Simon wants to create a lonely, isolated character. He has the character say “I am a rock.” The tenor is the loner. The vehicle is the singular rock. And whether the character really “feels no pain” (like the inanimate rock) is open to question.

So here, I guess you’d say poker is my tenor, and driving my vehicle. (Rim shot.)

You could get a lot of mileage out of this particular vehicle, I’d think. You could talk about slow, timid drivers/players. Or the reckless, risk-taking types. Or tilt as “road rage.” And so forth.

Yes, you could go down that road for a long time. I’m gonna leave it there, though. Because this is my stop.

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Anonymous Bill Moos - pdxrogue said...

Nice one today!! You've been moved up on my "fav" blogger list -currently 5th (with a bullet) trailing Pauly, Pokerati, Wicked Chops, and Otis (rapid eye reality - not the one he gets paid for).

Hitch-hiking on your analogy, I must be the 80 year old geezer driving the 1978 Crown Victoria in the middle lane of the freeway going 53 MPH and oblivious to all the young turks passing me and flipping me off.

I've come to appreciate your writing greatly. You seem to be "well-versed" in many aspects of life beyond the felt. It enhances your writing (and our reading!!) a lot.

I'm not a huge poster on my blog --mostly when my gut is tied in knots. Take a gander if you will and feed me some comments -- thanks.

1/27/2010 4:33 PM  

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