Saturday, May 07, 2005

Revenge of the Nerds: In Online Poker, though, Who Are They?

So you want to play online poker?: "In the last 2 years, online poker has exploded to a multi-million dollar industry with tens of thousands of players on at all times, day or night. According to PokerPulse, a site which keeps track of the number of users on most major poker sites, the largest online cardroom had a peak of in excess of 40,000 real money players in the last 24 hours Well I've got a little secret for you. Half of them are idiots."

Now, I'm not going to sit here and delude myself that I'm Phil Helmouth or any other poker professional with reserved season tickets at any table at the World Poker Championships, but I have won and lost my fair share of Texas Hold 'Em hands. I played consistently with a regular group of five or six of my friends every Friday or Saturday night, usually until 2 or 3 in the morning. I guess like ADD, we were on the bandwagon before it became the common fad, but that's neither here nor there.

Usually, I'd lose my money, but it was the "quality" time with them that I enjoyed. And to be honest, it was a lot easier to justify losing $10 over the course of 5 hours than $15 to see a 2-hour movie, plus, there every time I sat down at the table there was the possibility that 'tonight' would be my night. And at first, that's exactly how I looked at; it wasn't necessarily knowing when to hold and when to fold, it was whether or not I had Lady Luck sitting on my shoulder sharing cigarettes with me. Eventually, I learned that luck has very little to do with it; most of it is about playing smart and playing confident. I joined and stayed up a few too many nights playing in those rooms, doing fairly well, but never playing real money - it was research, not profit that I was seeking at those tables.

Having a short-lived poker background, I thought I'd get an interesting insight into the "new" poker player from this Kuro5hin story...I did, just not the one I anticipated.

The tips were elementary, but with useful online links to various tips and tricks poker sites on the web. What was most interesting was the backlash of comments on the story. (background about Kuro5hin: every story that gets posted to the site must first sit in 'docked'-status; meaning that regular members and contributers will review every submission and then either give the story a thumbs-up or a death sentence. After a go-ahead vote, the story can then be posted on the site officially.) Back to my thoughts. Now, I didn't go through and read every comment and sub-comment on the story, but the consensus didn't so much disagree with the content of the story as the entire notion of online poker.

I guess all my life I've assumed the bulk of the American male civilization is dichotomous - either you're a jock or a nerd. By hiding away one night every weekend to play poker with my friends, I assumed that we were more nerd-like because we weren't like the alternative - that is going to the strip of bars and drinking and trying to get laid. When I ventured into the Party Poker scene, I thought I was just taking my nerd status to a more serious level, wanting to improve my game at the expense of my social life. To hear such negative feedback on the entire poker phenomenon in this story, I'm starting to see an even greater separation: even the nerds are split about poker.

The language usage in the negative commentary is almost identical to the insults I used to make on the 'frat'-type - following a status quo, the mainstream idealogies, and mindless neanderthals doing the exact same things they did after standing upright for the first time: trying to boost their egos by pounding their chests. Part of this animosity stems from not having enough sex during high school and seeing all the girls I had crushes on dating varsity football and basketball players. Now, it appears, I am, or was at least, a member of that same tribe...still, I can't get a date. What gives?


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