Friday, June 3, 2016

When A Poker Player Becomes a Man

With moist eyes that are hesitant to aim in your direction, your special ladyfriend finally looks up at you and softly utters, "I'm pregnant."

At odds of approximately 4 to 1 against with one card to go, your nut draw finally hit. Maybe you didn't buy enough condoms and were underrolled for the high stakes you were playing, or maybe you just drank too much one night at the casino and carelessly blew your wad in the pit.

Seriously, what did you expect? When you keep pumping your dough into a slot machine, the alarm is eventually going to sound and you will be forced to present your ID and pay taxes on your big score. Rejoice little man, you're about to be a dad!

If you have seen the movie A Beautiful Mind, the quasi-historically accurate account of mathematician and game theorist John Nash, I'm sure you remember that cringe-worthy scene where Russell Crowe attempts to proposition his wife-to-be by saying:

I don't exactly know what I am required to say in order for you to have intercourse with me. But could we assume that I said all that. I mean essentially we are talking about fluid exchange right? So could we go just straight to the sex.

A Beautiful Mind sex quote scene

Since the girl you have been shagging all this time just told you she's pregnant, it's safe to assume that you have only been stealing John's math formulas for personal gain and not his horrid pick up lines.

Nash's direct approach may give him a distinct advantage in a competition to seduce Siri in the fewest possible moves, but this is a delicate situation that must be handled with finesse. In fact, it's probably best that you just turn off your analytical poker brain for a bit and do as little thinking as possible. Any hesitation will be perceived as weakness, so just absorb the information below and keep your mouth shut until you are certain she is done talking.

There are two main questions on every guy's mind as soon as he hears this news. At the point of delivery, the only thing that matters is that you
do not
ask them out loud. This, my young poker padawans, is the relationship equivalent of a negative freeroll. You don't win anything by playing it right, but you have the potential to withstand heavy losses if you blow it. Let me go ahead and answer them for you.

Q: Are you sure you're actually pregnant?

A: Yes dumbass, she is

She's got the test results in her purse right now. She most likely has one or two backups as well in preparation of thwarting any lame argument you were going to make concerning the statistical rates of false positives. By asking to see the results, all you are doing is insulting her intelligence and stalling for extra time. Don't worry, she'll explain later.

Q: Is it my baby?

A: Don't you dare go there, asshole

If you managed to suppress your shock long enough to hold your tongue through the first question, if you ask this, it's going to be replayed back at you in every single argument like the world's worst bad beat story. Sharing a roof with her will be like being locked up in prison with an Alzheimer's-stricken Phil Hellmuth.

If it's not your baby, then it's better to just assume:

A) She probably wouldn't be here in the first place.

B) You would have already heard about it from her much less attractive friend who has secretly wanted to sleep with you since high school.

For now, just concern yourself with disarming the bomb while you are within the blast radius. After she falls asleep in your loving arms, steal her phone and start sifting through her text messages. The truth should come to light immediately

Whether you want to believe it or not, you are a lot closer to John Nash by nature than you are to Neil Strauss. You may think you chose poker as a profession, but it's just as likely that poker chose you. That's why instead of shredding guitar on a stage in front of 20,000 fans, you are quietly mashing buttons in the world's most cutthroat MMO while trying to convince your mother that what you are doing in her basement is actually gainful employment-- right before asking her to make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch.

The good news is that not too long ago, Neil Strauss was probably a lot closer to being like John Nash than you are right now, proving that your current uber-dork status is more likely to be a temporary ailment than a terminal disease. Any guy with enough practice can memorize a few psychological techniques strong enough to get a girl's number, and applying a little more skill was probably enough to get you into her pants. From there, it's quite likely that being with you long enough lowered her self-esteem to the point where she actually she convinced herself that you were boyfriend material. If this was the route you took to get this far, getting blindsided by news such as this can hit you hard enough to cause your entire PUA house of cards to collapse in an instant, exposing you as the fraud you really are in front of one of the few people in the world whose opinion actually matters. We can't let this happen.

I'm not entirely convinced you are understanding just how important this moment is, so let's drive the point home a little harder, shall we?

Erik Seidel might be your poker idol, but to the outside world, he is just that scrawny douchebag wearing the ridiculous long billed red visor who donked off all his chips to Johnny Chan when heads up in the 1988 WSOP Main Event. Meanwhile, 28 years later, Johnny Chan as the poker player may not matter at all to you, but to everyone who has ever seen Rounders, he is that Asian stud who brilliantly manipulated some random, scrawny douchebag who would be completely forgettable save for that strikingly hideous red visor.

Erik Seidel wearing a stupid visor.
Erik Seidel back in his "good looking days".

I'm a poker pro, too, so yes, I get it. Over the long haul, variance evens out and Seidel wins the big money. We agree on that. Yet whether you play cash, tournies, SNG's, or whatever, there are always going to be some pots that matter more than others. Ask yourself how many of those TV sponsored players that you publicly criticize (yet privately envy) have launched their careers based on the outcome of just a single big bluff or call while the cameras were tilted their in their direction?

You have the rest of your life to be Erik Seidel, but this is your Johnny Chan moment.

Wait...scratch that. You are never going to be Johnny Chan, period. You can, however, avoid having your infamous Erik Seidel malfunction. While he did earn $280,000 for his runner-up finish,  I'm sure he would happily trade all that money and throw in a few bracelets as well just to squash the feeling of dread every time there is a possible straight on the board or he overhears someone making a Teddy KGB impression at the next table over.

Besides...he's Erik Seidel, for god's sake. While I doubt that Matt Damon can actually play cards worth a shit, there's not a single woman in the world who would pass him up in favor of Erik Seidel, whose natural charm evokes all the excitement of an all night fisting session with HAL-2000 in subzero temperatures.

Let's get back to the situation at hand. You just got the biggest news of your entire life and your knee-jerk response is to preserve your pathetic, lackluster bachelor status and retreat into cowardice. Even if this is the worst thing you could have imagined, steady yourself with the consoling thought that there is
at least one person in the world who will be forced to publicly testify that your junk is in workable condition.


Put on your best poker face, remove your stupid red visor, imagine you just double-barreled some bullshit hand and backdoored a gutshot, then look that sexy woman straight in the eye and say,

"You're pregnant?! That is sooooo awesome!"

Congratulations and welcome to the real world, kid!

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