The other day I was talking to my friend Jack, about gambling. Jack’s a professional poker player. He was explaining to me that to be an effective poker player requires a diverse range of skills.
“As in life, a poker player is required to wait for a good hand,” said Jack.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I’m talking about the ability to lay down a good hand when you know you are beaten. An integral part of such an approach is to understand which mistakes are to be avoided and when. Through patience and discipline, as in life, an effective poker player will minimize their losses over the long term,” said Jack.
“What, like Jimmy?” I asked. Jimmy was our friend.
“What do you mean?” asked Jack.
“Well, you know that Jimmy’s gambling has got out of hand and he now bets his newborn son in our poker games, do you think we’ll have to raise him?”
“You’re an idiot,” said Jack, “like, in life, a successful poker player’s core skill is the ability to read people.”
“Jack, I think I’m addicted to gambling, can you help me?” I asked.
“You bet,” said Jack.
Jack was laughing for some reason. Stupid man.
Jack continued, “reading people’s use of language, emotions and behaviours effectively is an innate skill that many of us underestimate the importance of. When we get this wrong, conflict can ensue.”
“What, you mean like Jimmy?” Jimmy’s girlfriend was currently not talking to him, apparently, it’s something to do with their newborn son. She’d recently told Jimmy she was leaving him due to his gambling. Jimmy told Jack and me, that he thought she was bluffing.
“No. It’s nothing like Jimmy,” said Jack. He rolled his eyes for some reason.
“Switching gears is crucial in both life and poker,” continued Jack, “living a predictable life is dull and boring, and as in life, other poker players will take advantage of such players. Those people that are able to adapt to ever changing dynamics around them are the most contented people, switching gears can be a gamechanger.”
“Don’t they say one out of every seven friends has a gambling addiction?” I asked Jack.
“Yeah, something like that, why?” Jack asked.
“Well, my money’s on Jimmy,” I said.
Jack rolled his eyes again for some strange reason.
Sometimes in life, the cards we are dealt are shit, just absolutely shit, but in such cases, we have to accept the cards we have been dealt and play the game with what we’ve been given. And this, I believe, is when gambling can be a gamechanger. Metaphorically, I gamble a lot in life. I take risks. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, but ultimately, I learn from the losses and grow from the wins. The above story was inspired by the following writer’s prompt:
Originally published in Medium publication MuddyUm, 17th November 2019.