The Elephant in the Room
Going to talk about something that isn’t comfortable, that’s not celebrating a great time or victory, that’s not talking about bet sizes or bad beats, I want to discuss the dark cloud that seems to be hanging over more and more peoples’ heads but really highlighted in the poker world.
Mental health problems are not new, in fact 1 in 4 people will suffer some sort of mental illness problem in their lifetime but what I see more and more is how folks in the poker world are suffering to a much greater degree and wondering why this is.
I am no psychologist or expert but in my work I have had a lot of dealings with the more vulnerable members of society and often traits seen there are seen in poker players. So why is this happening?
I have a couple of ideas, whether right or wrong I am not here to justify but to just talk through and maybe highlight with folk things that might help going forward.
Firstly poker is a solitary game (how can that be you yell in a casino full of people! See below), ultimately you are after just being the one winner, one person aiming to get all the chips, one person with the bragging rights. At that moment in time you will get all your circular disc things over the line and doesn’t matter whether a complete stranger, your bf/gf, your best friend or your grandmother you want and need them all. So the game by its nature is a selfish one.
Secondly, we are surrounded by hundreds of people who smile, and chat and laugh with you but ultimately you go your way at the end of the night, and they go theirs. Whilst many of us have made friends from people we have got to know over the years, there are plenty of people who still are only an acquaintance, and this can make it all feel a bit lonely especially if you struggle with the social side of things.
Lastly for some, poker can be seen to a path to glory and riches, all the glam and glitz of poker on the tv will be the answer to all the money woes and lead them to a happy ever after, but its not quite going to happen in your 35 quid comp on a Wednesday night with smelly Fred to one side and Lucy playing her favourite hand of J5 spades!
So what are the answers, I don’t have them, but I have tried to be there for folks if they need to talk, especially when they are at the bottom, taken someone out for a coffee just to get them out and away, talked through different options which included finding different past times or helped with finding a new job route but it has to be up to the individual and what they need.
More than anything its about being there, understanding its not a case of pulling your socks up, or get a grip but understanding that not everyone is in the space you are and acknowledging sometimes we all need a little help