Tell Your Story Walking (Part the First)

Stories are my bread and butter. Or at least my bread - the butter is sometimes a little hard to come by. (See ICING, CAKE AND, p. 47.) I love a well-crafted story. I will watch any con film - even a bad one - as many times as is necessary to spot the cracks, be it once or a hundred times. I will, on occasion, voluntarily watch a really bad movie just so I can think about structure without being distracted by anything remotely resembling competently written dialogue. This can make me a poor companion for the movies. Fifteen minutes into The Sixth Sense I leaned over and whispered in my wife's ear: "He's dead. Can we go now?" Once my ribs healed I learned to keep my mouth shut. The thing about story is, things in a story don't just happen in a vacuum. They can't. Well, they can in a David Lynch film, and I suspect that Lynch is probably either one hell of a poker player or a distressingly random gambooler, but I digress. Things in a story happen because something else happened earlier - because characters made certain decisions based on personal tendencies coupled with the information available to them at the time. Sometimes these decisions are good. Sometimes they're not. Sometimes the characters are in a horror movie and have all been dealt the cinematic equivalent of the Hammer. I like Hammer movies. Every poker hand is a story, it's true, but most of them are closer to Rashomon than See Spot Run. Viewed as a conversation, every player has their own thread; every player is reacting to the statements of those who've already acted. Some threads peter out early, others are intertwined until the final reveal at the end of the third act. At its most basic, poker is a formalized conversation or debate, one that continues either until someone concedes the point (by folding) or until proof is offered (a showdown). a bet is ultimately a statement: "I have the best hand." If the story's told convincingly enough, the bet may see no callers; otherwise, though, the call is the act of someone who hasn't yet made up their mind as to the bettor's veracity - or, perhaps, the act of someone who already knows better. A raise is a counter-argument - "You sure about that, bub?" A bet and a raise from early position should make matters clear to anyone waiting to act. The bettor and the raiser are both saying they have the best hand; at least one of them is probably telling the truth, and only one of them has to be for you to be in trouble. Unless you've got an awfully strong hand yourself, or you think it's really too early for everybody to be this excited about their hands, you should be saying, "I believe you" and folding.


Blogger Joe Speaker said...

My raises are apparently the equivalent of "Prison Break." Believablity factor of Zero.

Nice post.

9/15/2005 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Absinthe said...

Danke schoen. "Prison Break" is the blind-capping straddler, it's true. But even that guy gets lucky once in a while.

9/15/2005 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Freeman said...

Just caught your link from LasVegasVegas. Great post. I can't believe there's a poker blogger named Absinthe and I missed it somehow.

9/20/2005 09:27:00 AM  

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