This story of an addictive personality manifesting itself in the form of degenerate gambling and the lure of the poker table is quite incredible. It has the hallmarks of gonzo style essay writing where the writer is the story, and a few insights into the mind of the gambler, and society more broadly. Check it out.
As a literary society, we have long since gotten over our modesties. The literature of addiction, once the exclusive territory of imbalanced, suicidal poets, has now come to dominate the market. We no longer recognize self-indulgence as self-indulgence. The term itself has fallen out of use, relegated mostly to protests from bitter Amazon.com reviewers and the curmudgeons of the weekly book reviews. Stylish women in New York write chatty columns about how much of their paycheck they spent on the latest “must have” designer handbag. The bestseller shelves are flooded with the memoirs of 30-year-old alcoholics. Sex addicts write 200-page books, complete with sex-cougar dust jacket photos.
Pain in poker comes in many forms. There is the loss you feel about living off of the dregs of a societal illness. There is the gambler’s moment of clarity when you realize you have become just like the old, sad men that you ridiculed in your younger, luckier days. There is the tedium of sitting at a filthy felt table for hours, sometimes days, feigning a studied intensity. There is the anxiety over explaining to a loved one exactly how you lost $30,000 in the course of a weekend. There is searing unease that comes from watching that same loved one twist uncomfortably whenever you give them a gift bought with the spoils of gambling. But none of poker’s daily pains are deadly or instructive, really. What’s more, all of guilt’s iterations can be cleansed by one monster score. Hit a set of 6s on a J-6-2 rainbow flop against the Donkey at the table, the one who is wearing a fake Versace rayon shirt whose outrageous patterning is the only thing taking attention away from his Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses and the poor, doting, usually underage girlfriend who sits behind his right shoulder, awash in the illusion that her boyfriend is Paul Newman from The Hustler—well, win $5,000 off a guy like that and you stop worrying about ethics and your misspent youth.