Monday, June 21, 2004

Putting in the Hours: A Dark Journey Through the Psyche of Lord Geznikor

In my recent (and continuing) quest to find a way to increase my income, one piece of advice remained constant:

Play more hours.

I said the first time that was suggested that it wasn't feasible, promising a longer explanation eventually. This is that explanation, and indeed it is likely to damage my reputation as a Really Together Guy.

The short answer is that I have ADD, and three hours is the most I can concentrate on four-tabling poker, and three hours might even be too long. (It does, indeed, require about 70% of my concentration.) But because the real reason is more complicated than that, and because at least one acquaintance doesn't believe in ADD, I shall elaborate.

Part of the long answer is that I have difficulty making short-term sacrifice for long-term goals. This is the reason that I never did well in school despite a top-1-percent intellect; it was always easier and more "fun" to watch another episode of whatever stupid crap was on TV, than it was to do homework or "study." (To this day, I really don't know what people mean when they say they have to "study." Do they understand the topic, or don't they?)

In my adult life, I've worked out ways to avoid having to make those sacrifices. I haven't been terribly ambitious at jobs I've held. (Which is good, because I've always exasperated my employers.) I'm not married, although this may be a symptom rather than a result. And I've come not to mind living in a hopelessly cluttered, uhh, living space.

My father has said that making short-term sacrifices for long-term goals is something that grownups do; when his dander is up (which still happens in my thirties) he as much as says, "grow up." Functionally, at least, it seems my father is right; I look at people younger than I am with a house, and wife, and kids, and simply do not understand, except academically, how they did it. If I had a house, it would fall apart because of the repair jobs that went undone. And I tend to go a long time between relationships because, dammit, relationships are a damn lot of work.

What it boils down to, is that I'm a hedonist: I want to do whatever is the most fun thing I can do right now. Playing three hours of poker is fun. Playing eight hours of poker is not fun.

Another part of the problem is that I hate being told what to do. "So do I," you say. No, I mean, I really hate being told what to do. If I was planning to go to McDonald's, and you tell me to go to McDonald's, then dammit, I'm going to Wendy's. If I was planning to wear my black shirt, and you tell me to wear my black shirt, then I'm wearing my blue shirt even if it's in the laundry. It does matter how you say it. I am open to suggestions, really I am, but if I reject the suggestion then that's that.

This is why I feel the way I do on some political issues. Things that are prohibited tick me off, but things that are mandatory really get me going. Particularly, I believe that mandatory taxation is immoral, akin to theft at best and slavery at worst. I therefore believe that local, state, and federal governments should be radically reduced in size and scope so that mandatory taxation is not required to pay for it. (There are other reasons I believe this. And, a small amount of mandatory taxation might be necessary to pay for even the tiny government I envision. But even if it is a necessary evil, it is still evil.)

On the other obvious example of that which is mandatory, a military draft, I'll say that a war is unjust if it requires a draft to wage it. If you don't get enough volunteers to fight the war, then don't fight it.

I think I'm off on a tangent. The point is, that I don't like being told what to do. One of the weird things about this, is that I don't even like it when it's me that is doing the telling. If I tell myself that I'll do X after I've completed Y, it rarely works out that way. Once Y has finished, I re-evaluate whether I wish to do X. If I don't, then I don't do it. My train of thought is often something like, "Why should I do X, just because Y is over? That's stupid. Besides, I don't want to do X."

That's what it boils down to: I don't play for longer than three hours because I don't want to. After three hours, it's not fun (usually). Sometimes there are other, somewhat tilty, reasons to play on, but usually three hours is about what I can stand.

Oddly, in the casino, some of the same tendencies work in the opposite direction. I don't have to focus for three hours; once I've pigeonholed my opponents I only need to focus for a couple of minutes, occasionally. The social banter at the casino gives me something else to do, keeping the game "fun." And the very thing that keeps me from playing online, keeps me at the table live. This is especially true when going home is a drive of a couple of hours; that's like work. And I don't like to do work; that's why they call it that.

One of the conclusions one could draw from these two big character flaws is that I shouldn't be a poker pro. Maybe that's true, but it also makes me unsuited for just about everything else. Maybe I could be something where the pay is completely out of proportion with the work that's performed, which pretty much means the entertainment industry. Grand Rapids doesn't produce a lot of big-time actors; the last one of any note was Gillian Anderson (X-Files). And she's really in demand lately. (Oh yeah, the "American Pie" writer was from here; the movies are set in fictionalized East Grand Rapids.)

But poker does, usually, provide me with a living doing something that doesn't suck. I don't have to get up at 6AM, and I don't have a shithead boss. (Okay, maybe I do have a shithead boss.) For the most part I've followed the advice to find something you like to do, and then find someone who will pay you for it.

What I'm trying to do now, is find a way to make it pay more. More hours would generally be counterproductive. I am, therefore, looking for a way to get more out of my hours.

This next bit started as an aside, but after I typed it, I realized it's important. One of the things that even lets me keep up focus for three hours is that I have the day's blogs to go through. Although I haven't added any to my reading list in a while, keeping up with the blogs, most days, takes about three hours. At least, it does while I'm sitting multiple tables of poker. What can be drawn from this is that if there were something else to occupy my time while I was playing, I might be able to stretch out my playing time. I am not looking for more blogs to read, although Iggy's hiatus might be worth two new blogs. Even now, I get to the point where I've read enough blogs. What I'm looking for is something else to do, perhaps a game I could play to keep myself occupied. It must run windowed, and must be pausable and probably turn-based. "Tetris" wouldn't work, for example, but a game like Snood would. Actually, a Scrabble game would, too, or Monopoly, or something. Well, heck, maybe I just need to take a gander at the bargain bin at my local hacker hut and see what I see. There's got to be something that can keep me playing. (Oddly, Solitaire didn't work. At least the Freecell variety took too much thinking, too much away from the poker.)

This took several hours to write, and it's unedited. I'd go back over it, but it is on a depressing topic, so I won't. So, do your worst; psychoanalyze me to death, tell me how you think so much less of me now. Or you could just send money.


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