It's funny the way the day morph's itself... In your own mind at least.
When you first awake, you know it. I mean YOU KNOW IT, and you know it good...
It's a Gameday.
Even before you have your first conscious thought, you know it.
"I have to... mail that insurance payment. Make sure to get an oil change. Get the grass cut..."
All of these thoughts run second- fiddle to that aforementioned one, the one that always comes first.
It's the last thing on your mind before you fall asleep the day before. And now here it is to greet you, peeking through the window like a ray of sunshine on a summer day.
You open your eyes taking your first- full conscious breath... And it hits you. A bolt of adrenaline shoots down the length of your body with sudden recognition.
Wakey wakey... It's Gamedaaaay.
That feeling. It's been in your blood since you took that first fatal flop. Those three little cards sliding out face- up on the table. It's like the prick of a needle. It's the fix. Like a heroin addict, those three cards have the same effect.
The pupils suddenly dilate. The heart, bumpbump-bumpbump... spikes in gaining rhythm. Felt in the chest, and now suddenly racing through the neck.
It's Gameday yes...
But it's not just any Game Day, this one. It's Thursday's GameDay. And game days like this for me, are unlike all the rest...
For you had better be focused on Thursday's gameday. I'm telling you. Oh my. Because if you're not... you're liable to be scalped. Uprooted and un-hinged. Sent to the cleaner whilst your wallet does singe.
"Gambling Tornados!" is an accurate description given by my friend Ryan. And gambling tornados like none- other.... as they happen to be all of my good friends.
We've played against each other from the start. We know each other's tactics. Our betting patterns and raising schematics. Head- nods and finger twitches. Everything is exposed...
Like the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe standing above that subway- ventilation grate.... There's no way to keep that dress down baby! No fightn' it! Not when you're playing over the fierce winds swirling around at this poker game.
Ah! But then, the true question becomes... Who will be playing the role of the wind rushing through that grate...? And who, will be playing the struggling Miss Monroe..?
The truth is, any player has the possibility of playing either role and at any given time. The only veritable difference between the tornados, is their preparation, and then reactions... when the roles become evident.
It's 1 hour til showtime now... The ride down on Gameday. The wind rushing past my head, windows down. Even the air smells different on days like this. Crisp. Almost fragile. Like a half of a sneeze will shatter it into a million pieces. There's tension. My mind drifts to the task at hand, fiery words echoing through my head...
You must be focused.
You must be calculated.
You must have discipline.
You Must not relent..... Must not relent..... Must not relent.
It's like a "second me" emerges... A drill sergeant- like bastard. Angry and fired-up, with no passion for loss or excuse. He screams for precision, for entireness, for the chips of the weak... And he will not tolerate mistakes.
This figment of my mind. The one that keeps me focused. The one that plays by all the rules of the game. The one that always shows up, on the Ride Down on Gameday...
He's a sicko. An f'ing nutjob. A chimera particle somewhere in the depths of my mind, hell- bent on shitting excellence and pissing perfection. He will not let me be. Then again, I really wouldn't want him to go...
I first met him in December of 2009. Nearly 3 years ago. The times were different then. The lack of experience in my game was severely evident.
I had played that evening's session like a fucking jackass. MGM Grand Detroit. So many mistakes. All I wanted that night was to find a sleep that I hoped would clear my head.
And then he came to me... This voice that lives deep within my conscious.
It was in that instant just before you've fallen completely under. I remember laying in my bed, but I wasn't in my room any longer... Had I finally snapped?
I was transported to some dark interrogation chamber. Underground maybe? I think so... But how many levels down I had no way of knowing.
There was one light. One very bright- ass light, and it was shining directly into my eyes. I couldn't see a thing. I was terrified. I shook. Somewhere a rusty faucet or maybe an old pipe was dripping. Plunk... Plop... Plunk... Every three seconds a drip. Blinded and alone I sat there in silence.
Then the terrifying voice. It wasn't a human voice. It sounded... electronic. Even a bit warbled. Like the voice- sound you hear in a movie as the character sits at CIA headquarters, the questioning intonations coming from men in an adjacent room their voices totally camouflaged and transformed. Computerized. No way to tell one voice from the next, let alone discern a voice you might recognize from your past.
"Mr. Gecik..." The voice flat- lined in a grave tone from a speaker above...
"Mr. Gecik.... It has come to our attention that you have failed more missions in the past few months than you've successfully completed. Is this true Mr. Gecik....?"
My lips trembled at finding the words to answer his question... It was true.
"We don't accept mitigation here Mr. Gecik. We don't accept excuses," The voice reverberated on...
I cringed. The words he spoke were like a jack- hammer, driving through my insides and resting on my soul.
"We will not tolerate failure any longer. You will be held accountable from now on Mr. Gecik... for every facet of your game, for every ill- move you make, for every dime you spend that does not come back us, you will be held accountable..."
There was a pause.
The maddening drip-drip-drip of that fucking faucet the only noise to break the eerie silence of this one-sided dialect.
"We'll be watching you very closely Mr. Gecik.... We do not like to lose. Do you understand this fact Mr. Gecik...?" The voice threatened, before eventually fading out.
Covered in sweat I awoke with a start. Yes. I understood.... Certainly not with the clarity that I understand now. But I understood their meaning nonetheless... Playtime was over. It was time to start winning.
Whether this phenomenon was the product of conscious thought, or the musings of a world soaked in dream I will never be able to say for certain. But one thing is true.... I don't want to end up in that musty interrogation room ever again. No matter which side they claim to be on.
Those guys. Scary though they may be, only want the best. That part of me at least, whoever those guys are up there, aren't there to hurt me. In fact it's 100% the opposite. They recognize the discipline and wherewithal necessary to execute +EV moves with every breath you take. It's a will. It's the like the best part of me is attempting to pull up the bootstraps of the worst of me... The "lazy with my decisions, blame it on bad beats defeatist" side. It's an unconscious rescue mission. The fight to dispel personal demons and obliviate mediocrity...
And in the days following this episode all the way up until now, that phantomized voice has been a part of me. Especially on the ride down. This second side of my supraliminal mind. Always questioning my play. Focusing me on preparation for the game ahead. Molding my psyche. On days like today.
It's 30 minutes til showtime now. The lineup is set. With an earlier glance at the computer I spied which of the tornados would be blowing into town this Thursday night.
Miles and miles of hand histories involving the attending players start pouring off my mental wire. From games in years past to games from last month.... every detail stored is recalled, regurgitated and flashed at light speed before my wondering eyes. Somewhere in the farthest reaches of my mind, the second me is preparing for the storm to come.
Betting patterns. Tells. Timelines. Tilt ratios. Every conceivable advantage is being reviewed up there. When to bet. What to bet. Who will fold to my shenanigans, and who will struggle like hell to keep their dress from flying up past their ears.
20 minutes til showtime.... I swear I can feel the earth begin to tremble. Somewhere out there the other tornados are beginning to gather. They too recognize the significance of a game like today's. The ramifications of loss, and the sick feelings of fiery rage one suffers over losing at the game to all of one's asshole friends.
You must be focused.
You must be calculated.
You must have discipline.
You Must not relent..... Must not relent..... Must not relent...........
The voice thunders continuously from within now. Interminable. Like a record skipping over and over and over again. Hounding me. Preparing me for the inclement weather swarming into the region. On days like today...
10 minutes til showtime... Every animate object seems like it's presenting itself in two- dimensional form. Like the pages of a storybook, every bush and blade of grass looks divergent, almost contradistinct. Like my mind is computing, but reporting a full half- second behind. Laaaag. Not a slow connection, but the result of the millions of bites of data being processed in one- millionth of a second. The most infamous villains in all of history...
Osama BradLaden. Grayday Gadaffi. Colin Jong Il. Irwin Rommel Della Volpe.
Teddy TK Kaczinsky. Timmy The Kid Kilbane. Pontius Pilot Paoli...
One after the other the plans scroll by. The tactics for dealing with each tornado being uploaded all at once. The procedures. The outlines for success projected and ready for execution like a highly specialized military op. Compound storming, tornado stomping.
8 minutes til showtime.... Lightening streaks across an ash- gray sky, each bolt preceded by the CRACK of stampeding thunder shots. Trees that stood motionless, serene, just a few hours before begin to sway violently in the on-rushing winds.
My heart rate elevates steadily as I close in on my destination, both the physical and the mental. bumpbump-bumpbump-bumpbump... beats my heart.... gameday-gameday-gameday beats my mind.
My car ceases to exist, instead morphing into some sort of stealth helicopter. The motion of the powerful rotors, the turbines beating along with the rhythm of my heart and mind. gameday-gameday-gameday... with each whooshing revolution.
Swooping in now, not on the house of the host... But a compound in Pakistan. The final descent into the war zone that is Thursday's poker game. And then....
Silence. Everything stops all at once. In an instant my mind suddenly slows.
Where just a second ago the landscape of my conscience was littered with a thousand scenarios, now there is calm. Cleared of it's clutter like a blank word document, only the cursor remains on screen.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
I shut off the car, stepping outside somehow surprised at the bright- blue sky up overhead. Was it not jussst storming like the end of eternity out here..? What happened?
I can't help but get the feeling this might be the work of that second me, the one with the voice. Shoving me out of the way. He's in control now. He's the one with the instinct for this game. I may as well go grab a beer and let him do his thing. This is his scene. A crime scene. The normal Matt G need not apply...
I begin my ascent up the front walk. Somewhere to the left a very animated man exits a large red pick-up truck.
"YE-YE-YE--YEEEEEAAA BITCHES...!!!" He exclaims, as he stumbles up the drive.
"Moamar Grayday Gadaffi...," I can hear the second me think to himself in recognition of the figure now standing before us.... "What a Fucking tornado..."
"Why... Hello Bitches!" The man exclaims upon approach, a wave of his arm through the air...
"Why... Helllllo Miss Monroe..." The sicko- headed second me replies, smiling to himself without missing a beat.
Then we walk inside, the three of us. The two me's and the newcomer he... To join the other cyclone- winds that would form tonight's massive storm. A tornado.
On a day like today...