Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dealing with disappointments (Not about Lappin)

As I walked through Dublin airport on the way back from UKIPT Newcastle, I said to my friend/business partner/roommate (and person I'm most likely to strangle or be strangled by) David Lappin that I probably wouldn't bother blogging this one as all I had was a collection of dull beats and no theme with which to tie them together. Ever the helpful friend, David suggested I write about the thing that interests him (and therefore by extension the world) the most: David Lappin. Sorry David but I won't be doing that so you can stop reading now.

Instead I'm going with the theme of dealing with beats. This is one of the more important skills for any pro who wants to last more than a few years. Inevitably in poker there are more moments of crushing heartbreak than of soaring elation. The longest career I know of in professional boxing is a guy you've almost certainly never heard of called Peter Buckley. Mr Buckley fought a total of 300 fights. He never fought for a major title and lost all but a handful of those fights. He did however fight several world champions (when they were on the way up) in his niche as live punchbag. The only reason his phone kept ringing long after other better fighters had hung up their gloves was his ability to take a few hundred punches, lose a unanimous decision and dust himself off and be able to do the same again in a few days.

Professional poker players need to have a bit of Buckley about them as they circumnavigate the globe patiently building stacks only to see them disappear for the most part in a lost flip.

Faced with this, we all have to develop our own personal coping mechanisms to help get through disappointments and out the far side to tackle the next tourney. These tend to be different for everyone. One young Irish pro I was friendly with used to turn to ice cream to soothe the pain. This seemed like a good one to me, at least til I adopted it in Vegas one summer and saw my weight balloon in the face of multiple bustouts every day.

These days I've settled into a new routine that seems to work. I flee the scene of the crime as quickly as possible. If I run into someone who wants to know I'll give the bare details and move on as quickly as social niceties allows. Basically I just want to be alone. After some alone time during which I process what happened and get over it I'm good to go.

My roommate on this trip takes a very different line. He wants to moan at considerable length about how deeply unfair it is that someone as smart talented and debonair as himself doesn't win every flip and every tournament. He pretends  to want a sympathetic audience for these rants but I strongly suspect what he really wants is someone to say or do something he can take offence to, so he can then train his witty sights on them and release the bile inside.

The fact that these two differing approaches are not very complementary was brought home in Newcastle when we seemed to keep busting within minutes of each other. I'd have stormed back to the hotel room looking forward to some alone time to get over the latest disappointment when he'd curmudgeon in through the door for the premiere of his latest bad beat opera but really hoping I quickly put a foot or word wrong so he could unload on me. After we almost simultaneously busted the main on Saturday afternoon I decided that rather than deal with this I'd try to run it out, so we went for a run around Newcastle. One of David's favourite lines of attack is to blast me for my advanced age and how much I've let myself go physically from the days when I ran insanely long races, so it was a nice bonus to leave him for dead on the final hill and put him through the indignity of begging me for an asthma inhaler afterwards. David likes to point out that unlike me he still plays real sport competitively but here was compelling evidence for my counter that cricket hardly counts as a real sport.

Unfortunately our side event bustouts all came at night when it was no longer wise to be going for a run in the drunk littered landscape Newcastle turns into after dark  When I busted the final turbo not too far from the bubble David  was at the other end of the table with a stack and feeling good about himself as he had already got into a bit of verbal sparring after calling his German neighbour's play "spasticated". So after a nice walk back to the hotel made even nicer by running into German hero Martin "moertelmu" Mulsow I was looking forward to some peace and quiet until I got 7 texts in a minute from David imploring me to come back to Aspers so I could witness his imminent victory. After trying to ignore him first and placate him with a "text me when the final table starts" second, I gave in faced with a continued onslaught of texts. It seems Lappin craves an audience even more in victory than in defeat.

Unfortunately when I did walk back to the casino I found him standing disconsolately beside a roulette table looking as punch drunk as I imagine Peter Buckley must have done at the end of his 299th fight. It was pretty clear he was not on a break here but I asked anyway. After throwing me his patented "What does it look like?" look of derision he premiered the new one where he'd somehow managed to exact bubble with aces. Having heard it repeated a few hundred times that night and then again to everyone we ran into in the airport the next day I can't bring myself to go through  it again so if you really need to hear it check out Lappin's blog.

I tried to be sympathetic outwardly while inwardly wondering how a man who has made a profit of over a half a million playing poker could be that upset about bubbling a hundred quid turbo side. I also couldn't help but wonder that if missing out on a 200 quid min cash affected him like this, what would a bad beat in an EPT or WSOP main event do to him? Maybe David wonders the same and this explains at least in part why despite being one of Ireland's most successful and best players for several years now he's never even been in Vegas or tried to play an EPT. I managed not to say this aloud as it would have been guaranteed to start unleashing the Lappin bile. What did slip out was the suggestion that it was better than it had happened in a pretty meaningless turbo rather than, say, the WSOP main event  This drew another stock Lappin look of derision, the one that suggests I have two heads (each of them more useless than the other). When I tried to justify by pointing out that a couple of months ago I'd seen about ten times as much equity as the total prize pool of the turbo we'd both just busted disappear in the WSOP main event when I got all in preflop with aces against queens. Annoyed at how I could compare something as trivial as a WSOP main event bad beat to what had just happened to him, David lapsed into a sulky silence which could only be catharcised by the blog entry he pounded out in his boxers back in the hotel all the time darting me the mischievous "I'll have the last laugh here O'Kearney" look.

I guess despite the intention (and the title) that blog is mostly about Lappin. Hopefully nobody will tell him though.


So, which is worse - my snoring or Lappin's whining?
You sound like an old couple who need to kiss and make up.

You were doing fine till you slagged off cricket, now I hope he ups his bitching. :) :) :)


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