I wonder how many people remember Jimmy Durante. He was a lovable
guy who was in the movies, on the radio and later on television.
Jimmy had a line he would use when someone would try say something
funny on his program. His line was, “Everybody wants to get into the
act.” This you might ask is leading to what. Well the thought occurred
to me the other day that nowadays, “Everybody wants to win at poker.”
You’re now thinking, who didn’t know that. I remember when that wasn’
t necessarily the case.
When I first started playing in public cardrooms, (a lot of the players, I
don’t know exactly what percentage), but a lot of the players actually
played for fun. I was one of those players for a short time. But as a
recent college graduate, just starting in the business world, with 2 little
one’s in the first 13 months of marriage being a pleasure player was not
a luxury I had.
I don’t mean that the players’ back then wanted to lose, they obviously
wanted to win. It was more of a case that since very few were trying to
make a living out of the game, a loss wasn’t a big thing. The limits were
low, so making a living was very difficult. In those days the card clubs on
the coast, in Washington and California, would not allow you to raise the
limit just by having a consensus at the table.
So now we fast forward the clock to 1999 and what do we see? Pretty
simple--a lot less people having fun, playing mostly for pleasure. Now a
lot of us are making or trying to make a living playing poker. We so
called pro’s in a lot of cases do not take to losing that gracefully. After
all this is a question of do I eat or not.
I wondered if those days of having fun could ever be recaptured. Maybe
there were places where they still had fun playing poker. I didn’t have
to think to long to remember that every cruise I have been on, I had fun
playing poker. Maybe it was because the limits spread were never that
high, and people not making their living out of the games. Maybe it was
just the fact we were all on vacation.
I thought I was on the right track so I decided to go to a club and play a
lower limit game. Maybe I would see players having fun. I knew I was
on the right track within 5 minutes. The dealer got his push and in came
the new dealer. The new dealer said, “Hi everybody.” The players
answered back, “Hi Cindy.” “How are you Cindy.” “How’s your daughter
Cindy? ” Wow, I thought. They’re talking to the dealer. The games I
play in, if the dealer says, “Hi everybody” half the table scowls at him or
her and the other half ignores the statement. On a good day one
person might grunt something.
The game I was in was a $2and $4 Hold-em game. It met the criteria of
a no fold-em game, but truthfully, most of the players seemed to be
having a good time. I didn’t play too long but long enough to satisfy
myself. I determined if you could stay away from the people trying to
make a living in the games, play the limits low enough so no one could
get hurt too badly, it could still be fun.
The best analogy I could make would be to recount how when I first
started betting sports. I would bet $100 on a couple of games. I loved
sports and being somewhat of an ”exjock”, I couldn’t get my fill. Then
after a couple of years I was betting up to $2000 a game. In those days
the results of the games were not readily accessible so I would call the
local radio station where the game was being played. My stomach would
be doing flip-flops as I asked what was the score of the Cowboy or
Chiefs game. After a couple of years of big betting, I realized I wasn’t
enjoying the games anymore. In fact I couldn’t even watch them. So I
decided I was better off betting $100 and enjoying the games. It was a
lot easier on me and the furniture lasted a lot longer.
I know by this time that the players considered “higher limit players” are
scoffing. They are probably thinking this guy is crazy. Vince Burgio isn’t
a low limit player, he’s a pro. Who is he talking to? The truth is, I am
talking to myself, more than anyone else, because I often say poker’s
not fun anymore. I am just trying to make a point. I came to realize that
poker may be only exciting and a turn on if you’re losing or winning
enough to hurt. That’s fine if that’s what you choose but you shouldn’t
complain that you’re not having fun.
Maybe it’s like you have this choice. Either play low limit, have fun, laugh
and have a good time, or play higher limit and experience a lot more
excitement with great highs and frustrating lows. Bottom line is if your
going to make a living playing poker, it’s probably not going to be fun.
For what it's worth ...
Are We Having Fun, or What?
By Vince Burgio