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The Game

by Zettel 

Posted: 05 June 2005
Word Count: 146
Summary: Started as a poem. Collapsed into a sort of song. Ended up a bit of fun.

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The Game

Cut the crap
the dealer said
wanna talk - talk
wanna play - play
don't talk and play
donít play and talk
It ain't just a game
until you're out
you're in

Gimme no shit
'bout lousy cards
ain't no such thing
just cards
cards' what you get
hand's what you play
God don't play dice
or load the deck
like justice he deals

The deck ain't marked
the deal is straight
rain is rain
nothin' personal
you wanna stay dry
stay indoors
you wanna look around
gotta risk getting' wet
you ain't no lily
gotta sow or reap

Luck ain't a lady
fickle or true
ain't got no favours
for me or for you
its always your call
however they fall
check or raise
stack in your hand
to hedge is to lose
to be is to do.

Zettel 2005


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Comments by other Members

Al T at 11:28 on 05 June 2005  Report this post
Z, were you also taught by Yoda? "Try? There is no try, just do or not do."



Or even: "No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."

James Graham at 19:46 on 05 June 2005  Report this post
Poem, song, bit of fun - could be all three. The way you've combined the dealer's lingo with short, punchy lines makes what we might call the dealer's 'vernacular philosophy' really engaging.

This guy has authority. He's an expert - he's like a builder talking about damp courses and insulation. A lot of the stuff he says bears thinking about, e.g.

Gimme no shit
'bout lousy cards
ain't no such thing
just cards

...or: Our notion of good and bad luck, our whole concept of luck, is a construct and has nothing to do with reality.

Or 'you wanna stay dry/stay indoors/you wanna look around/gotta risk gettin wet' - the lesson of the cards applies to life, nothing worthwhile is gained without risk. Or 'It's always your call/however they fall' - not necessarily true if it's bombs that are falling, but true in many circumstances. But the dealer expresses it much better than that. Whether it's wisdom or cod philosophy, he's convincing because he has experience, he's thought about these things, and he talks like James Cagney.


Al T at 20:00 on 05 June 2005  Report this post
James, I enjoyed your critique almost as much as Z's poem/song! Luck may be a construct, but try telling a leper in Calcutta that it has nothing to do with reality. Of course you could always argue that he's lucky not to be dead (though he may argue the converse). It seems that luck, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

As always, you've raised a big question, Z. There's a saying in arabic that our destiny is written on our forehead. I assume that you're not meant to look in the mirror to work out what it says. I'm sticking with the possible illusion of having free will for the time being, but I guess what your poem is getting at is that we may not be able to choose the cards we are dealt, but we can choose how we play them.


Al T at 20:43 on 05 June 2005  Report this post
How's this for a bit of synchronicity. I was sorting through some old theatre programmes today and came across one for a play by Patrick Marber, Dealer's Choice, which starred one of my old City colleagues, Nigel Lindsay, who used his free will to run away to drama school. In the programme there's an extract from Anthony Holden's book Big Deal: A Year as a Professional Poker Player, which starts:

"The good news is that in every deck of 52 cards there are 2,598,960 possible five-card poker hands. The bad news is that you are going to be dealt only one of them."

"The best news, however, is that you don't have to hold the best hand to win. The one dimension unique to poker, which sets it above and apart from any other game ever invented, is the element of bluff. By betting as if you are holding the best hand, by "representing" strength, you can frighten all the other players out of the pot and take their money without even having to show your cards."

"This is true of no other game except life, with which poker has a great deal in common."

All good alpha male stuff!

Adele (who is rubbish at cards)

Zettel at 12:09 on 06 June 2005  Report this post

Pleased I am that read you did. With the thoughts you have glad I am. Who's Yoda? In perhaps the best line Harrison Ford ever uttered on or off screen: to George Lucas - "George you only write this shit we have to say it"

The use of poker as a metaphor for life is, as your quote indicates very apt. Unlike say roulette or other casino games. It is the sense of choice and control over one's destiny that adds a special dimension to poker. Also the moral ambiguity of the bluff: cheating made legal by the rules of the game. Very male perhaps as you say. And probably pretty commonplace in the context of your book.

James - thanks for the comments. I am pleased that the language worked - given the context Cagney is high praise. His delivery had the cadence of a tommy gun. But the writing had to make it possible. I love this stuff and have even had a go at adapting the doyen - Chandler.

Anyway if one can have a bit of fun and stimulate a few thoughts - that's cool as they say.

Thanks again for the comments.



Al T at 15:31 on 06 June 2005  Report this post
Z, it wasn't just bluffing, it was out and out lying. Not for nothing is the best book ever written on my former industry called Liar's Poker...


Ticonderoga at 16:44 on 06 June 2005  Report this post
A nice antidote to what sounds like a bland, Englished version of Guys And Dolls.

All been said. Fine piece.



engldolph at 08:45 on 07 June 2005  Report this post
Hi Z -

"If you can't stand the heat, get outta the kitchen"

i don't know where you were when you wrote this..but wherever you were, you had a lot of fun...I enjoyed it ...love the street dealer vernacular and philosophy spiel ...it's in your hands...the cards aren't marked..you have as much chance as the next man...is that the voice of reason or the sales-voice of deception??

most important thing is to get to the table
and play! (although it helps if you know how to secretly count cards :-)


Zettel at 12:15 on 07 June 2005  Report this post
Thanks Guys and Gal (sic).

Al and James: Just discovered on a remote machine, that the 'preview' function doesn't work so have just lost an overlong response to the fascinating questions you each raise. So you're reprieved!

One thought: the illness (and natural disasters too I guess) cases are fundamentally different to the bombing cases. Quite a discussion.




Little consolation I know, but the opportunity to lie is parasitic upon the general practice of telling the truth (not all banknotes can be forgeries). And Liar's Poker is a bit of fun for those not up to playing the real game. I guess it's a question of how to measure 'winning'.


Mr B. at 11:57 on 09 June 2005  Report this post
More gangsta poetry! This had style.

Nice one,


Zettel at 12:09 on 10 June 2005  Report this post
Hi Anthony

Thanks for the comments. This stuff is fun I find.



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