Another Interview

This is going to be short, because it touches on a lot of the same subject matter as Identity Crisis II. I did an interview with the excellent team at Pokerlistings. Thanks again to them for giving me a platform for my voice. I hope it helps someone.

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Identity Crisis II

I’ve tried to write this post a few times now. It has been brewing for seven or eight months, ever since I decided to quit poker.

I have decided to quit poker.

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In my first blog on identity crisis, I wrote about my experience losing the pieces of myself that framed my decision-making and helped me make sense of the world. It left me unable to choose a direction, rudderless and adrift in a sea of possibilities.

This is something worse than that.

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I literally grew up in poker. I started playing seriously before I finished university, before I lost my virginity, before my first girlfriend, before my first break-up. Before my first utility bill, before my first real move, before the first pair of shoes I ever bought for myself, there was poker.

I learned the ups and downs of life as a poker player. I learned my coping mechanisms as a poker player. I learned real love, I learned fake love, I learned struggle, I learned triumph, as a poker player.

What are those lessons worth now?

More than nothing, probably. But it’s hard to shake this feeling that everything I learned in that context could be wrong out of it.

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Mid-writing this, I got linked to the perfect thing. Read it and then come back

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I am Mickey Mouse, with less stability and fewer options. I don’t get to springboard poker into something else. This is it. I’m starting over, just as lost as he is.

I’ve always been a straight-ahead kind of guy. I found something that got my juices flowing and leaned into it with all my might and got better at it. That was it, that was my process. It worked ok when I played hockey as a kid, it worked great when I played poker as an adult.

Nothing gets my juices flowing anymore. Poker hasn’t for a long time. So I need to go out and find something to tear into again.

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It’s befuddling to not have a thing, but it’s downright scary to lose one. It’s like being a boxer with a glass chin. You realize you can just get it knocked out of you at any time, and that will be it, you’ll have to give up everything you’ve worked for and move on. If this is the second time it’s happened to me, how many more bullets do I have in the chamber? I’m almost 28 and poker was 7 or 8 years of my life. What if I spend the next 7 or 8 years on something and I lose that fire again? Can I pick up the pieces and move on again at 36? Can I live without it?

And what if I never find it in the first place?

I am anxious about never finding it, about feeling set adrift and rudderless until one day I wash up on the shore, an old man with failing capacities, and announce “Hear I am, by accident. I hope it turns out OK.”

But I’m still quitting.

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I’m quitting because, ultimately, poker is a dumb card game. It’s rules are limited to passing money back and forth between participants. There’s no chance to make something more for people than what you started with.

I’m quitting because poker isn’t checking all of the boxes I need for a happy life, and as scary as it is to be without it, I have to try to find something that does. I have to strike out into the unknown, because I know what’s here, and it’s not enough.

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I’m not feeling very confidant right now. I’m feeling like the kid I was before poker, the self-loathing, socially anxious virgin with nothing to like about himself, nothing to be proud of, to hang his hat on and say “this is what makes me, me.”

But this is the highest percentage bet I get. This is the best shot I have at a fulfilling, happy life. Poker has given me what it’s given me, and it’s not getting any better, and I’m not getting any younger.

However many more bullets I get, I’m going down firing.