Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Question

You hear it every day. Those you like, those you even dislike will throw it out there. They don't want an honest answer and you really don't want to give one. It's innocent and never means anything. But never is not the case this time. This time it means everything. You have to answer it honestly. It is more than just the answer. It is the questions that follow...the questions that must follow if you are ever to make sense of it.

Only two hours have passed. You knew it could happen and you've planned for it. Considered all the possibilities and installed safeguards. Others have planned as well. Hundreds, even thousands have succumed to the pressure but not you. Your infallible. Beyond reproach. When the realization washes over you no explanation is evident. What could have happened? What feasibility was not assessed? You are in control, nothing should have gone wrong. Perhaps nothing is wrong. Yeah, your on course. This ship will be righted and your the one to do it.

"How are you doing?"

There it is, the trigger. The one question that should mean so little, yet carries every implication.

"I'm down."
"You've been down that much before, right?"
"No, not this much."
"You should quit then."
"I'm just going to finish this table."
"OK, I'm going to bed."
"I'll be up in a few minutes."

"Liar! You lying rat bastard!"

That's what she should have said instead of walking up the stairs. Hell, somebody should have said it. You should have even said it to yourself. This wouldn't be the last table. Not even the one after that. It would be a third and several hours before shock would take hold. The realization that the one thing you never really had control of was yourself. The only eventuality you couldn't account for was the human condition. The ability for a human to self delude themselves in such a manner that they are unaware of what is transpiring. They say trauma can cause blackouts and this is one trauma you wish you could forget. But you can't forget. You musn't forget. To forget would be foolish and foolish you are not. You are not a God, you are a mortal and have succumb to mortal weakness.

Numbers don't lie. They aren't bound by emotional attachment and feel no regret. When you thought you were tightening up and only playing when you had the best of it the numbers wouldn't support you. You managed to push the tide back into that vast ocean of loss for a period of time. That was all you needed to conciously believe you were in control. Doing the right things. The reversal of fortune was welcoming you like the warm embrace of a lover. You were in control. When the table turned to a rock garden and they began stoning you from all sides it was just bad luck. When the table was finally shorthanded you were playing scared and the sharks could smell blood. You were folding when you should be pushing, and pushing when you should be folding. But to you they were getting lucky. You have control, and as they say, "control is an illusion".

You had a plan. It was a good plan. After playing for a year and a half you were now in position. It was now time for all those months and hours to pay off. Now that you've left the kiddie pool behind you could start using the money and skill to pay off some of that debt. The plan was to be rid of all revolving debt by the end of the year. That would make you free. Free to enjoy life just that little bit more. That plan was freedom, the plan was the catalyst. You wanted it so bad that defeat was no longer an option. You had finally reached the summit and nothing was pushing you off. Control, yeah it is an illusion. Some call it tilt. I call it stupidity.

It would be nice to say this whole tale was just an exercise in fiction. A little story to entertain the reader. It's not, It's the truth in the guise of a cautionary tale. A tale I lived through just last night. I managed to lose one third of my entire bankroll in five hours. It's left me with some hard decisions. Fortunately my bankroll is completely separate from my living expenses so I'll be able to continue playing but I'm at a crossroads. "The plan" is no longer an option at this point. Play at 3/6 is also no longer viable. In fact my bankroll now falls between the 1/2 and 2/4 levels. The conservative in me says to just drop back down to 1/2 and build back up slowly. The not so conservative says to drop to 2/4 for a few weeks, get the bankroll back up to the 3/6 level and resume the plan. Both are reasonable I'm just not sure which one is correct for me at this point. At any rate I'm taking a few days away from the tables. I'll still play Wednesday in the WPBT but that's just for fun anyway. Shakespeare was right, "To Thine Own Self Be True."