Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pokerum Mysterium

"Poker is a metaphor for Life" is a saying that one stumbles upon often when reading in the genus --. It's easy to understand how such a catch-phrase would become popular. One could structure a side by side comparison of attributes of each quite easily. Paul Samuel, in a post on PokerPages writes, "If you want to talk to people use words, but if you want to talk to God use Maths".

I consider myself a person of prayer - I pray frequently, however I use words. Maybe that is why my prayers never seem to be answered in the way I would like, maybe that is why it seems as if my life is "swirling the drain" these days.

I can perform simple arithmetic in my head with pretty good speed. Addition, multiplication, division, percentages have always come easy to me. It's the alphabet soup stuff -- Algebra -- that has always thrown me for a loop. Our daughter is taking two algebra classes this year in HS -- she stopped asking me for help some time ago -- smart kid.

Yet, mathematics is the engine of poker -- probabilities and odds --. It's a wonder it all works, really. Mathematicians have been around for millenia, seeking to explore the universe as they find it, looking for the "end of the string" so to speak, they keep pushing the boundaries of knowledge farther and farther.

And then, there is this simple game which "takes 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master (obi wan Brunson)". What makes it so intriguing is the admixture of a fixed universe of mathematics - the odds and probabilities don't change, and an unlimited number of players each with their own style, personalities, assumptions, expectations and wills. These combinations are what make this game so challenging and compelling.

To me, in a "micro" sort of way -- this game mirrors the mysteries of life with its rigid parameters of birth/death, and the great uncertainties which lie between them. "Never draw to an inside straight?" depends.
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