My name is Adam O'Connell and I am a poker player. Forgive the AA style introduction, most people I know would begin with something like... how old they are, what they did for a living, that they liked cats perhaps, however poker players are not like most people. Most people would not like to spend hours staring at cards, not talking and risking large amounts of money, which quite frankly you will surely lose. Don't get me wrong you maybe the next Johnny Chan, ten time WSOP(1) winner, but even he went broke a hundred times before he saw the black. If you do not play poker or have yet to try, you are both blessed and cursed.
You will never see a days pay go in 15 minutes as the guy rivers(2) a set(3) of 2's killing your hole(4) aces stone dead. You will not know the hulmilliation of the walk of shame after being knocked out of tournament. Having to walk past over a hundred people all thinking, "What a fish(5)." You will not know the hidious self loathing, the hatred, the quite frankly wanting to throw yourself in front of a train feeling of making a bad call.
However also you will never know the god like power you feel when you read a player perfectly, putting them on an exact hand or malnipulating them into thinking you have a better one. The feeling of purest joy when you get an all-in raise(6) from another player when you checked with the nuts (7). You will not know the purest contentment, as great as sex with a beautiful woman who you never thought would look your way let alone get in bed with you, of the taxi ride of glory. That too rare occassion where you have done so well in a tournament that you have reached the final table, its so late that all the trains have stopped but what do you care? You've made several hundred if not thousands if pounds even if you get knocked out now, you can afford the taxi back.
The life of a poker player is like any gambler one of exterme highs and lows but with one key difference. We are not gamblers. Sure we may blow a load on blackjack or at backgammon but that's only whilst we're waiting for a game. Gambleing is about luck, poker is about skill. Don't get me wrong I'd rather hit a great run of cards then be skillful because you can win off luck but for every good run you have, you'll have 50 bad ones. If your not skillfull, you'll always be in the red, you'll always be a fish and everyone will see you as a cash machine(8).
For those of you who scoff, ask yourself this, why is it always the same guys at the final table of all the major tournaments? Why is it that people like Doyle Brunson, Phil Ivery, Jennifer Harmen are millionaires from their winnings? Have they been consistantly lucky for decades because if they have I want to know where they got their rabits paw from.
Anyways reason I began this was to document something of my life and the highs and lows of poker. In my time I've won a fair bit but I've lost a fair bit too. I'm probably just in the black but I'm getting better and one day I intend to have my gold bracelet(9). Admittedly that dream took a battering when on Tuesday I played on a cowboy table(10) and got knocked out of the tournament first, a very, very sad showing. That though was just pratice for the big one, working my kinks out as it were.
You see my friends today, when I should be in college, I'm actually flying to Dublin to take part in a charity tournament for the Dublin Simon Community. I will write a feature on it and probably for a poker publication so that assures some of my guilt for missing a day on my journalism course but for the most part I'm there for match. My dad is sponsering me for a 50% cut and thus with a top prize of £20,000 it means I could be making 6 over six months of my last jobs wages in one night. All I have to do is beat 300 of Europes best poker players. A difficult task no doubt but nobody ever became world champion easily
In fact I've got a plane to catch right now. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow (I play tonight). May lady luck smile on you.
1: World Series of Poker
2: Final card delt
4: Starting cards
5: Beginner/useless player
6: All their chips/money in the pot
7: The best possible hand, unbeatable
8: A bad player
9: Winners of a WSOP event are given a gold bracelet, a symbol of great awe and respect in the poker community
10, A wild or loose table where players bet with anything, very hard to win