Poker–the competitive edge

With a serious poker player in the family, I’ve close-up view of the wild growth of tournament poker.

A few years ago people were surprised that my husband, the law professor, played poker. They weren’t even quite sure what it meant to be a serious poker player. Now, they ask if he’s been on TV (answer-not yet).

More people have an idea what Texas Hold’em is-and they’ve heard of the World Series of Poker. The game has gained respectability and $$$$ with more casinos including poker rooms and hosting tournaments with prizes ranging from a few hundred dollars to millions.

As the money increases, so does the competition–to the point that successful poker players have much in common with professional athletes. It’s all about sharpening that competitive edge. Compare recent covers of Card Player Magazine with Sports Illustrated covers. Notice the elated look of champions. The “I dare you to mess with me” eyes when the camera comes in tight..

It’s no wonder so many athletes also play poker. There is something about the competition. Here’s a photo of my husband playing poker with baseball great Orel Hershiser.

Mr. Hershiser is just one of many athletes and former athletes I’ve noticed around the card room. Those who approach the game with the same level of determination, focus and training that made them great on the field seem to do well around the green felt table. For example, take a look at some of Mr. Hershiser’s poker  achievements.

Yes. Poker is definitely a sport, which may be why I’m not interested in playing. I love a good card game. I enjoy the fun of playing–relaxing with friends or family. I’m just not interested in developing that cut-throat competitive edge that’s necessary to be a winner at this game.

Not that poker players can’t be nice. Many are. They can also be great friends, but in a poker game you are not playing against the house–you play to take the other guy’s money. In a poker tournament it’s all about knocking the other player out–friend or not..

No. I’ll take my chances as a writer. For the most part writers support each other–we aren’t out to cut throats or knock anyone else out of the game because it isn’t a zero sum game.

Still, I’d never say writing isn’t a gamble. But that’s a story for another post. (Three hundred forty-seven to go for the Post-A-Day 2011 Challenge)

What’s your favorite position–on the field or in the stands with the popcorn and beer? (Though I suppose an advantage of the sport of poker is you can have your snacks while you play). What’s your game of choice?

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