Poker Face

Several years ago I tried my hand at poker in Las Vegas. Yeah…. let’s just say I lost some money. Guess that means I’m not that great of a poker player. I think one quality that makes a good poker player is the ability to count cards. To know how the deck is stacked against them, or what cards are left you may have left to play with. To me, this is a very important part of the game. If you can’t, then you could easily get blindsided with a pair of Aces you just can’t compete against. Another quality of a good poker player is having that all stoic poker face. Guess that’s why a lot of professional poker players wear sunglasses. You can read so much in someone’s eyes – so why not keep them hidden from the rest of the world? Right.

Well, if those two qualities make a good poker player, then I think it’s pretty obvious why I suck at this game. While I am great at reading the enemy (or for most times the competition), when it comes to matters of the heart, I can never properly count the deck or even see when the deck was so clearly stacked against me that I had no way of winning straight out of the gate. The passionate nature in me makes it impossible for me to keep expressions off my face. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And even in the darkest pair of Prada sunglasses, you will see the pain, hurt and emptiness resonate brightly through my eyes when I have lost, or am about to lose.

In the book, The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch says, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.” How profound that is. I can’t change the fact that I have Multiple Sclerosis. There is no cure for it. But what I can do is change everyday how I play my hand depending on the cards MS wants to deal me. And over the years I feel I have become quite the master at this one. You dealt me a hand that would take away my legs. I called your bluff and got them back only with a pair of crazy eight’s!! Every hand you have dealt me, I have methodically, carefully, yet strategically played my way through to where I held the winning card in the end. (why some of this wisdom didn’t carry over to Las Vegas, I know not….) Since I was winning so much there, you decided to raise the stakes on me and deal me a new hand with a failing heart. And right now we are still playing this particular round of poker….. but I’m feeling pretty confident.

The irony here is that I can count how the deck is stacked against me with MS, and I’m slowly but surely getting there with my heart. But when it comes to love, I am the worst poker player around. The cards are dealt and I didn’t even count to see the critical ones that were left to be played. The cards that would make it impossible for me to win. See, the deck was stacked to where I had no chance of ever winning this particular hand. And since I wear my heart on my sleeve, my opponent was able to read my hand without me ever uttering a word. Strike two!! But being the daring and competive person I am, I raised up the anty – all or nothing! But he drew the Queen of Diamonds, and for this round – that was all he needed to kill my hand. Strike three! Maybe we’ll meet again at the poker table, maybe not. Maybe I’ll entertain another match one day, maybe not. Maybe I’ll stop playing cards all together and just stick with chess…..

What I do know is that while my card game is clearly up on this poker table, I still love to play and will move on to the next interesting gamble I can make here in Vegas. But let me leave the winner of this last hand with one piece of advice, and this comes straight from the Eagles – “Don’t you draw the Queen of Diamonds boy, she’ll beat you if she’s able. You know the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.” Your Queen of Diamonds may have won out for this ONE hand, but always remember that you can never lose when you bet on the Queen of Hearts. Even being down a hand, in the end, she’s always the winner. Too bad your sunglasses are a little too dark to see that. Maybe that poker face doesn’t help you win just as much as you think.

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One Response to “Poker Face”

  1. kris Says:

    I love you for being stronger than me, to say all I too hold close to my heart and hide behind the dark sunglasses! The words are so much too my own, I seldom leave your post with dry eyes. Hugs Linz! God has big plans for you..

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