Servant Of Two Masters

by thetank
Submitted by: snoopy on Thu, 16/11/2006 - 3:17pm
For first year University students, hard work such as reading books can oftentimes prove too much. That tome in which courses are listed, turning the pages as far as 'B' when choosing what classes to take can be a bridge too far for many. So it's no surprise that accountancy is over subscribed. I took the course for the same reason I play poker, because occasionally I get to sit next to a girlie.

So I find myself in a large lecture theatre one Wednesday afternoon, amongst several hundred other freshmen and freshwomanfolk. I was one of the last to arrive, and there wasn’t much choice of where to sit, so I had to settle for front row middle.

Our esteemed teacher had chosen to fill these 50 minutes of tuition time explaining a rather simple concept over and over again. To be fair, it wasn’t quite as bad as two plus two equals four, it was more like two plus three equals five. Nevertheless, after about 30 seconds, 99% of the room was either ready to commit suicide, or switch courses to Mason Malmouth's stamp collecting class. The other 1% were having a nap in the back row.

Our mentor plodded on, repetition after repetition soon wore itself out. He continued to reiterate anyway, insisting we all got out pieces of paper and wrote the nugget of common sense down. Coming out to meet the people, he quizzed all those foolish or unfortunate enough to be sitting in the aisle seats. Every one of them asked the same question, every one of them giving the same, correct response.

Towards the end of our session, he retook centre stage and explained his theory of nothingness one more time before asking the question “Does everyone now understand this?”

Maybe it was my youthful rebelliousness, maybe it was a need to show off to the girlie sitting next to me, probably a combination of these with a hefty schlurp of extreme boredom thrown in, but I somehow found the word “No” escaping from my lips.

It came out somewhat louder than intended, the lecturer had heard. He was moderately surprised to say the least, after all, he had just spent the best part of an hour explaining it five thousand times in a variety of excruciating ways. Even the guys at the back who have been asleep since they sat down understood it by now. “What part don't you get still?” I was asked.

I was now in a bit of a pickle. On the one hand I didn’t want to admit I was being facetious, and on the other I was not in the least bit keen of appearing that stupid in front of all those girlies. I had to think of a secret third option, fast.

“It's ok, I've got it now, I think I just copied it down wrong from the board” was the best I could come up with.

“Can I see?” he asked, while simultaneously snatching the piece of paper I had in front of me.

This was a bad thing, instead of diligently copying down the notes, I had spent the time trying to see how many times I could write “bite me” on a leaf of A4.

At this point, I should have probably gone into humble, placating, remorseful and frantically apologetic mode. Alas, his face was such a picture, that I went into a fit of manic giggles instead.

The level of boredom that I experienced that day was similar to what I sometimes feel now. Playing a few STTs, waiting for more to start, and folding everything that isn't Kings or prettier. One of the few things I learned at University is that going a little loopy at times of tedium can be destructive. When I didn't turn up to many more of his lectures, and needed to haggle my way into the final exam, the lecturer was not overly keen to help me out.

Some people are fortunate enough to be blessed with an obsessive love of poker and/or enormous powers of concentration. They play online and watch every betting action in every hand as if it were a divinely choreographed and hypnotic stellar ballet. Their full attention is captivated and will not be diverted until they have all the chips. I’m not one of these people, I need a little something to keep me occupied or the brain switches off, and I indulge in the modern day equivalent of writing “bite me” over and over, usually with less than positive results.

It sounds as if it should be an easy fix. Do something else while playing, and live happily ever after. A bit of radio, maybe the telly on in the background and I can mix it as well as anyone. Well it almost works like that, but I experience problems on the Starboard side of this too.

Frequently I’ll find that the distraction is taking up more of my attention than the poker. I start acting quicker in order to get back to whatever my secondary activity is. The problem compounds itself at critical points in the tournament, when the blinds are large and we are short handed. The hands are more important, and they come around more often. Perhaps I am more inclined to gamble, win the pesky thing or go bust, either way I can get back to the APAT thread.

And so, inevitably, as with everything else, it becomes a question of balance. Keep the mind ticking over, but refrain from indulging too much. What will and won’t be profitable will, I  assume, be different for everyone, but I'll share with you now what I find I can get away with……

- Music, albums, radio, etc.

- A DVD that I've seen at least 5 times before in a separate window on my desktop.

- Playing newmanseye at chess.

The following I've experimented with, all of them have probably lost me money...

- Debate style threads on the blonde forum, trying to read carefully and retort to other posters. Anything popular that makes me want to check back and see what other people have said at regular intervals.

- Playing silly internet games. They're addictive, I want to score high, my competitive instincts are probably better directed elsewhere.

- Watching anything on the telly, eyes dart back and forth, if it gets good, I go to the bad place.

- Reading a book, trying to keep finding the place I left it at takes up lots of head space.

- Trying to write anything of substance.

- Pretending that I'm spending quality time with the missus, I have to find time for that outside of online poker.

- Playing anyone else in the world, other than Billy the Fish, at chess.

If you indulge in a distraction while playing poker, be honest with yourself. Are you watching television whilst playing poker, or are you playing poker whilst watching television? There is a critical difference between the two that I urge you to ponder. There's no point telling fibs, if something is costing you money, no-one but yourself will know, and that same person is the only one who can fix it.

Oh, and if anyone's interested, I managed to get “bite me” on that piece of paper seven hundred and twenty four times. I counted during Thursday's lecture.

Thomas 'thetank' Stott