How many times have we heard the expression that Poker or some other
game "mirrors life"? I too, on occasion, have tried to point out parallels
between the poker world and the real world.
During the recently concluded World Poker Challenge, which by the way
was a resounding success, I had a reoccurring thought that just would
not leave me. I kept wondering why most poker players will go out of
their way to try to make others think that they are good players. I
reasoned that someone (assuming he/she really was a pretty good
player) would be better off if everyone thought he played poorly. Just
think of all the spots you could get paid off in. You raise up front, no one
gives you credit for a having a hand. They know you play poorly so you
get called. You three-bet a pot, no alarm goes off in anyone's mind. Why
should it? You're a bad player.
A good friend of mine, Kenny Goldstein, and myself have a running gag.
We say that it is a poker axiom that when someone loses a hand and his
hand is not shown, he will always have the next best hand to the
winning hand. As an example —and this story really is true— Kenny and I
were sitting side by side in a no limit tournament when a player went
busted against two aces. As the player who got busted was leaving the
table, someone asked him, "What did you have?" Kenny and I looked at
each other, and without missing a beat, said in unison, "Two kings." As
much as I hate to admit it. I too, am not without sin. I have lied about
what I had in order not to look like I played badly.
I really never thought that what I just wrote about above would ever get
into a column, until something happened to me at the Reno Hilton. It
made me realize that poker is not the only place where most of us
mortals do not want to be thought about in a negative way.
It began when I first checked into the Reno Hilton. I was about a week
away from having to weigh in for another one of those infamous "weight
bets." I was still about 4 or 5 pounds away from my needed weight. The
Reno Hilton fortunately had a beautiful workout facility with a steam bath,
sauna, whirlpool and everything else you might need.
The morning after I arrived in Reno, I was down in the workout room at
about 9 A.M. I did the treadmill for about 40 minutes, showered, went to
the whirlpool, followed by the steamroom, took another shower, changed
clothes and set off for the poker room.
This routine was just about the same everyday for the first seven days I
was there. Finally the weigh in day came, and I won the bet. But this time
I told myself I would not slack up — I would still work out on a daily basis.
After about ten days, I ran into the maid who had been cleaning my room
for the whole time I had been in the hotel. She was a nice middle-aged
lady from Guatemala. I had chatted with her a few times on different
occasions and left her money several of the days. As the days passed
she appeared to stare at me with a somewhat quizzical look. It began to
bother me. Why was this lady looking at me in such a funny manner?
Finally, one night after I was eliminated from the tournament, I went up
to my room and crashed on the bed. To put it plainly, I was feeling sorry
for myself. After a while I thought to myself, "Enough self-pity! I'm going
down to get even for the tournament." I went into the bathroom to
throw a little water on my face, when all of sudden it hit me: There lay
folded the original bath towels. The same unused bath towels that the
maid had left 10 days ago when I first arrived. "Oh no," I thought. "The
lady that cleans my room thinks I haven't taken a shower in ten days. No
wonder she was looking at me that way. What must she think? I bet
she's probably telling her whole family about the guy in Room 1266 who
I couldn't wait for the next day to tell her my story. I hoped she would
believe me when I explained that I really did bathe every day. I guess
the bottom line is that it really is important for most of us to want others
to think we really are good poker players, smart, nice, and even clean.
For what it's worth …
Kings and Bath Towels
By Vince Burgio