The Choice: Positivity vs. Negativity


Lately it seems every time I am rolling and have a big stack in the money of a tournament something bad happens. Sometimes it is a bad beat, or a really bad beat, or an even worse beat. Sometimes it is my brain going on vacation for what turns out to be a key hand, or two, or three. Sometimes it is my control breaking down and sending me on a spiral of tilt into the abyss. Sometimes it is real life showing me that there are more important things to do than poker. Whatever the reason the end result is the same – me on the rail and the tournament going on without me. I hate to play poker.

I remember when I first joined I had briefly flirted with that other site that claims to be a great poker forum, but I quickly found them to be too flat-out nasty for my taste. Pocketfives was a welcome haven full of friendly, knowledgeable, and fun folks who made an old seal feel at home. I spent the better part of 2005 splitting my time between insightful posts in the poker discussion forum and trying to make some of my new virtual buddies laugh in the off topic forum. I recently discovered this old off-topic “gem” I wrote. In response to Daniel Negraneu’s post – an open challenge – where he offers to play anyone for 100k to 500k and lists all the poker games to play, I posted this:

It’s quite simple really. I will play anybody heads up for their choice
of either 50 cents or one dollar. The challenger will choose the game
from the following list:

Pot Limit Omaha

One more thing. If I lose, I reserve the right to whine and cry like a
baby until the winner gives me back my money just to shut me up.
I am selling pieces of myself in order to accept this challenge. Seeing as I have no chance, I will be selling 300% of myself to make some money.

Due to underwhelming demand and my virtual unknown status
in the professional poker community, NBC and the Food Network
have both been in touch about making this game into a weekly
series. NBC wants to set the game up on a floating garbage scow
in New York harbor and call it “Hold Your Nose Poker”
and the Food Network wants me to prepare a series of typical
poker snacks while we play. I thought for the first week I would
demonstrate my beer can opening technique and possibly the
one handed sandwich fold.Of course all games must be put on hold
until the hot and heavy bidding war finishes, so we can see if we’re
gonna hold em or fold em.

Sure, it was corny and dumb, but it was done with a light heart. Lately it seems that this spirit of fun has fallen to the dark side. Poker discussion is full of finger pointing and hate. The insightful poker discussions are more and more rare. Even the off-topic forum is more a garden of adult pics and stories and sports betting brag posts. With some rare exceptions, things are not as fun as they were. I hate to play poker.

Chat at the virtual tables has changed quite a bit as well. I remember having such a good time chatting with fellow players at the table that my biggest regret when I lost was that it would end the conversation. I met many really cool people that I’ve stayed in touch with over the years. Lately it seems that most of the table chat is full of vitriol. You know it’s bad when “Donk” and “Moron” are the two nicest words that I see typed in the chat boxes. It’s gotten to the point where I rarely bother to even turn chat on anymore. I hate to play poker.

I hate to play poker. Yet, when the government of the United States decided to take the liberty to play online poker away from me, I got mad enough to do something about it. I joined the PPA, wrote letters and articles, and did everything I could to fight this decision. Why? Simply because I love to play poker.

I hate to play poker. Yet, I still spend a lot of my free time either at the tables or writing about the game. I make training videos and answer forum questions too. Instead of spending my precious time, my one non-renewable resource in this life, doing other things I choose to spend my time on this game. Why? Simply because I love to play poker.

I hate to play poker. Yet, most of my closest friends are, in some way, shape, or form involved in poker. I share my thoughts and ideas with , I hang out with, and I play with other poker players. Why? Simply because I love to play poker.

So how do I resolve this dichotomy, this love/hate relationship? I do the only thing I can do. I work on myself.

I post on and write for, because despite all the recent negativity, they are still the best online poker forum there is. The positivity that comes from old timers like Adam and Cal and many, many years long posters still outweighs the hate. And I try to always keep my posts and my writing as positive as I can. I may not be able to control what other people write but I certainly can do this.

I never call anyone bad names or call out their play online. If I have chat on, I simply type in “gla” and leave the game when I lose. I also try to make a few jokes or just some pleasant conversation if I can.

We are all the captains of our own ship. We all choose what course we sail. We all decide each day to be positive or negative. I choose to be positive. If more of us choose the positive path then, like ripples on a pond, it will spread out and affect all of us. I hope 2008 brings more waves of positive energy from us all and the only thing left to hate are the things we cannot control – those lousy beats!