As many of you know, I'm currently in Vegas indulging my poker playing. It is sort of my 'secret life' that isn't really secret. Last night was the WPT Ladies event and I placed 26th (or 27th I'm not sure which) out of a field of 150. Not bad, but not in the money. It is really interesting how you can feel irritated when you play bad (even if you cash) but feel good when you don't get into the money because you played well. Part of the psychology of poker I suppose.
Speaking of which, I pulled up Travis' blog this morning and he had a post about Amarillo Slim (http://traviserwin.blogspot.com/). One line really caught my attention - he said : "Gamblers tend to be motivated by one of two things, cold hard cash, or fame. " Ummm....no....most of the time it's neither. Of course I'm speaking of poker players specifically but I can tell you that for the vast majority it's not about the money or getting your face on TV.
It has been said that playing poker is a hard way to make an easy living. Very few individuals make enough money over the long term to gamble full time as a profession - so why do they do it? Interestingly enough, the motivation of a gambler and of writers are virtually identical. They both work in industries that 'look' easy to outsiders. The population at large assumes they have fortune and fame at their fingertips and want for nothing. In reality, most have traveled a very hard road filled with years of hard work, trial and error, and massive rejection or failure.
The motivation of both of these professions is not money. It is not fame. It is the desire to be good enough. The desire to be the best. For the writer, the years of struggle that culminate in a book finally being published are deemed 'worth it' when their book is placed on a shelf shoulder to shoulder with Nora Roberts, John Grisham, or Tom Clancy. Does it matter that they made almost nothing in the transaction? Does it matter that 35 agents once rejected the manuscript? Does it matter that they probably don't have a prayer to hit a list? NO. What matters is that they were good enough. They competed and were recognized. Their emotions wouldn't be more intense if they'd made a million, what matters is that they won the race.
Poker feeds these same emotional needs. Like writing, it is one of the few arenas where anyone can play, but only the best win. It doesn't matter if you're a millionaire or a reject from white trash land, you stand equally side by side with the best in the world and you compete. You sit down shoulder to shoulder, as I did last night, with individuals who have literally won millions playing the game and you try your hardest. I sat at a table last night with Kathy Leibert, a woman who has won millions playing poker and just last week got second at the WPT event at Foxwoods. We played, we talked and we enjoyed the event. In the end, I was 26th and Kathy was 20th.
I am good enough, I can compete, and I will win the race - that's what matters.