I was going to write about PokerStars winning some sort of legal battle in Illinois. But that’s boring shit. It doesn’t make me happy, and I didn’t understand the legal jargon anyway. It might as well have been written in Swahili.
I spent 19-years of my life in a job that didn’t make me happy. My purpose was to make a few people happy, by making hundreds of people very unhappy. I know it sounds ludicrous, but that’s about the crux of it.
Then one day I was playing poker in my local home game, when one of the lads said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could play this game forever?” The question was raised at a time when we all had to leave because we were starting work in a few hours.
Nobody paid any attention to him.
Except for me.
Why We Don’t Like “Jobs”
Did you know that you are more likely to have a heart attack on a Monday? The Boomtown Rats knew. According to the ink contained in John Mackey’s brilliant book Conscious Capitalism, Gallup conducted a poll; in 2010 that discovered only 28% of team members were engaged in their work. 53% of them couldn’t give a toss, and 19% of them hated the place.
I started in the 28%, dropped to the 53%, before finally ending up in the 19%.
I think it’s true for too many people.
I don’t even know what day it is today.
I don’t care.
The reason people hate their ‘jobs’ is because they are treated inhumanely, their opinion is dead, everyone is in fierce competition, and all anybody gives a shit about is profit.
This is why my mate asked the question.
We were happy at that poker table.
Like pigs in shit.
And it didn’t matter if we were winning or losing.
It wasn’t about profit.
It was the sense of community, the freedom, and the camaraderie.
Everyone lives for the time they spend outside of work, and we spent that time playing poker. It made us feel alive. It was our blood, our oxygen, and for some of them, their 10 pints of lager.
What Makes You Happy?
Back to Conscious Capitalism, and Gallup conducted another poll that asked people in 155 countries what the determining factor was in happiness? It wasn’t money, it wasn’t the kids, and it wasn’t even a good old-fashioned rogering.
It was a good job.
The word ‘blow’ was nowhere to be seen.
So is poker a good job?
Is poker even a job?
Job, Career, or Calling?
Back to Conscious Capitalism and John Mackey believes work exists at three levels: job, a career or calling.
A job is something that you have to do. It’s not borne out of desire. You walk in and out like the walking dead, coming alive temporarily to see the zeros on the paycheck. It doesn’t cover the debt. You play dead again.
A career is more ambitious than a job. You may still hate it, but you can see a way to add more zeros to that paycheck. Get your head down, work hard, get all cuddly with the right people, and climb that corporate ladder. This is where I was. I wanted to become the CEO of DB Schenker. Why? Because that’s the guy who had the most money.
If any of these feel like poker to you, then you have a problem. Your happiness is about to expire. You are running around with the cable flying around your ankles. You are not plugged in. Soon you will be dead.
Poker has to be a calling if you are going to be in this for the long term. When I was a kid I wanted to be a footballer. They earn millions, but that’s not why I wanted to be one. It was what I was good at, but more importantly it’s what I enjoyed.
But what did I enjoy about it?
I was the captain. I liked to lead. I liked to score goals, win headers and make tackles. I liked the competition. I liked the strategy. I loved it when we beat the teams we were not supposed to beat.
It was not about the money.
“It is also about the search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” – Studs Terkel
During a recent interview with Andrew ‘Luckychewy’ Lichtenberger, I asked him why he played poker? In his own words, he mirrored most of the things that I said when I was a young footballer in waiting.
“But what about the money?” I asked.
“Would you play if there was no money at stake?”
It was a tough question, and one that Luckychewy couldn’t really answer. There was hope. He hoped that he would want to play if there was no money at stake, but money had been such an integral part of the game, for so long, he didn’t know anymore. Money was like that piece of paper containing the two letter words in Scrabble. Without it, you are lost.
So is it all about the money, and if so, where does this leave us as a group of human beings? Are we to be cast aside because we place money ahead of meaning and purpose? Is our wiring screwed up? Are we destined to be forever shallow, instead of made of deep meaningful stuff?
Poker As Life Calling
I saw a chink of light this week.
Italy won the Global Poker Masters (GPM). We don’t know how much money was invested by the Global Poker Index (GPI) but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near the money sitting on the tables of the nearby European Poker Tour (EPT).
This was not about money.
This was about the game.
PokerNews reporter Sarah Herring (formerly Grant) shoved a microphone in the face of Giuliano Bendinelli, and asked him how it felt.
“It’s the most amazing feeling in the world,” said Bendinelli. “It’s even more important than winning an EPT title.”
Now that’s a guy for whom poker is a calling.
For Bendinelli, poker is his meaning and purpose. It’s the reason he wakes up in the morning. It’s his daily bread. It’s the energy that surges through his body. It’s why he is so alive.
So what is it for you?
Or a calling?
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[Image at top by psychconnection.wordpress.com]