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Aces Full of It: Let it Ride, or Poker as a Metaphor For Life

January 20th, 2016 by Justin Buchanan
Children, step away from the computer. Naughty words in this one!

Children, step away from the computer. Naughty words in this one!

At this article’s original conception, I wanted to simply write about my experience trying The Playpen, a “kiddy pool” version of Black Chip Poker/America’s Cardroom’s The Cage. (insert the dramatic sound effect of your choice) However, really it wasn’t that much different from my usual experience of playing poker.  Most of what I got from the experience is that poker is a fucking stupid bullcrap game, which I’ve already long known.

Well This is Not that Article

So instead, I’d like to discuss how and why I believe poker is like life to a greater degree than just about any other analogy possible. It’s certainly more like life than a box of chocolates (I mean let’s be honest, sometimes you know what you’re going to get, or close enough to knowing.) For one thing, both are chock full of the aforementioned fucking stupid bullcrap. But in both, you have to recognize that there is really no possibility of such F.S.B. not happening to you and learn to roll with it when it does.  In poker, and in life, this is a journey I’m still making. Though I am far from my first step on it, I’m likely further still from the end even with my best effort.

You can get bad beats in both poker and life, and in both poker and life, the cosmic forces of the universe are totally unaware of the concept of bad timing and even more incapable of giving a crap. Have you ever heard someone tell a bad beat story about how this guy got quads or whatever to knock them out of the tournament the very next hand after he rivered a straight that beat their set of aces? (Or, you know, insert hands here.) Have you ever heard about someone’s car breaking down, then it turns out their dog died when they finally get home? Different in magnitude, but identical in principle.

Depicted above: what the universe thinks of your pleas not to let him hit that 2-outer. (Image:

Depicted above: what the universe thinks of your plea not to let him hit that 2-outer. (Image:

The Similarities Never End

There are idiots. Well, of course, there are idiots! An idiot at the table may well even have some idiot tendencies in life! It’s like it’s not even an analogy anymore!  Digression aside, getting mad at an asshat in a red pickup truck that has nothing in the truck bed and probably never has, nor will, under current ownership for nearly running you off the road is again identical in principle to entering a poker room and getting mad at the asshat who called your x5 BB preflop bet, then called two more streets with nothing before cracking your AA with a flush on the river.

But in poker and in life, if you let the F.S.B. and/or the stupid moron idiots get you down, all you’re going to do is lose.  In poker and in life, there are only certain ways that you can really take the reins of your own destiny– but that being the case doesn’t trivialize those things, it makes them more important and meaningful than ever. In poker and in life, unless you find yourself at the right place in the right time, you’re not going to get anywhere. However, in poker and in life, there are a multitude of right places and right times to be in them. The important thing is to figure out how to look for them, and when you find one, do not let it slip away.

Those with the courage to act and the wisdom to know what that act should be and when are the winners who forge their own destiny. In poker and in life, the only way to lose is to give up. Or to run clean out of money.

Depicted above: me, when I try to be inspiring.

Depicted above: me, when I try to be inspiring. (Image:

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