Raise or Fold:  A Year of Risky Business

Writing and playing poker as if they were activities worth doing well.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Year of Risky Business

I was brought up all wrong.

My parents were both artists, and they raised me to believe that a person should follow his or her own vision, passionately and eagerly, whether or not that vision is shared or approved of by the rest of society. It was therefore sheer good luck that we led a modestly middle-class existence as I was growing up.

The upshot of this family ethos, for me, has been a series of creative careers ~ many of which could actually have been lucrative, had I given money-making the slightest priority. But no, I have preferred to do what engaged my enthusiasm rather than what was likely to plump up my wallet.

In other words, I am an idiot.

I am, nevertheless, a consistent idiot; I am doing it yet again. I am following my interests and inclinations despite many very good rea$ons not to do so. I am setting aside a well-established track record in interactive web design to pursue a totally unrelated career trajectory.

Perhaps I am also an insane idiot. It's entirely possible.

In an effort to mitigate the potential bad effects of this madness, I am setting a time-frame in advance: one year. I will give it a year and give it my all. At year's end, I will assess my progress and either bring the experiment to an end or drink a very large amount of champagne whilst celebrating wildly with those I love.

For the next twelve months I will be playing poker and writing.

Yes, poker. Specifically No-Limit Texas Hold'em (mostly), both in tournaments and in cash games. And yes, for money. I hope, eventually, for lots of money. But initially for modest stakes in casinos, online, and in home games. If I manage to break even (including my poker-related expenses) this year, I will consider it a raving success. If I cover my ordinary living expenses as well, I will break out the aforementioned champagne and be ~ temporarily, I trust ~ insufferably proud of myself.

But what about the writing... why would anybody muck up a perfectly delightful plan to play poker all the time by adding writing into the mix?

Damn good question. (Kindly refer back to the speculation about sanity cited above.)

All silliness aside, however, I will be writing because I'd like to share with others what poker has taught and continues to teach me about facing a challenging world succesfully: who I am, what I want, how I respond to fear and stress and even success, what I know about other people, and how to always keep observing, learning, and adapting no matter the circumstances.

I don't intend to write a poker strategy book. I'm nowhere near good enough to do that. Poker is a game of many, many layers. I am just beginning to peel them away, and with each new one I realize how very few I've mastered and just how deep the game really is. I do think, though, that I have something to offer in reflecting on how learning to play poker well can build skills that will help a person to live well too.

Like this blog, the book's working title is Raise or Fold, and an important part of this year's activity is the commitment to finish it within that timeframe. (No book, no champagne.) I'll be posting work-in-progress from the book as I go. I'll also be posting about my day-to-day experiences at the poker table, the status of my bankroll, and ~ to some extent ~ the other parts of my life that contribute to my ability to play my best, including exercise and charitable activities.

Your comments and criticism will be gratefully received: for heaven's sake please don't hold back!

Live Bankroll: 100%
Online Bankroll: 100%

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Blogger bastinptc said...

Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on the new blog. Your writing style is so smooth, witty and intelligent. I look forward to reading and participating in the discussion.

You'll get a link now. ;-)

8/18/08 2:26 AM  
Blogger El Forrest Gumpo said...

Good luck on your journey! Hopefully the seas won't be too rough and be sure to be kind to the albatross. :)


8/18/08 7:11 AM  
Blogger Dale said...


8/18/08 12:41 PM  
Blogger PAPro_SandMan said...

Oh nooooooooo...!

I just wrote a page-long comment, as I am prone to do, and lost it all due to a Blogger hiccup.

I will summarize, in short.

I think your insanity is one of your most interesting aspects. You are an exceptional human being whom I believe has something important to offer the world.

This is part of your journey and I applaud your courage to embark upon it.

8/18/08 1:12 PM  
Blogger matt tag said...

good luck from another PAO-er!

8/18/08 5:59 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Congrats and best of luck! I hope to have a front row seat to segments of this (ad)venture.

8/19/08 7:30 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Why the hell not? I'll be reading and rooting for you - but especially, reading. You're a good writer and it's a great subject. Good luck!

8/19/08 7:48 PM  
Blogger Kelly O said...

You've always been one of the most interesting and innovative people I know. I can't wait to read more!

8/20/08 10:42 PM  
Blogger Drew Pruitt (stickyd) said...


Carpe diem!!

I wish you the best of luck. If I can get a break from changing diapers, I might just play with you somewhere along the journey.

8/21/08 12:11 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Hi Pokergrrl,
This looks like it's going to be great fun.

Good luck!..I'll certainly be reading.


8/23/08 2:16 PM  
OpenID wrekehavoc said...


sent here by my pal kellygo. i have been picking up texas holdem, too, and am excited to read about your experiences. i'm getting bored on low stakes tourneys at the moment, with the idiots who go all in All The Time, but i don't yet have the courage to up my proverbial game.

so i'll live vicariously through you :-)

8/24/08 12:56 PM  

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