Thursday, July 29, 2010

Strange language

I was just reading Todd Brunson's column in the July 28 Card Player magazine. It included this brief story about a mixed-game tournament he was playing, with Phil Hellmuth at the table:

A few hands later, the game was razz, and Phil again tried to dump me some
chips. I raised from the one hole with like six small cards behind me, and Phil
reraised me with a 7 up. Nice hand there, Phil--lol, I mean, did he really think
I had raised into six babies with an 8 in the hole?

I had a 3 up with A-2 in the hole. The one redeeming factor for Phil was
that he might have had a 5 in the hole, as there were three out. But that proved
not to be the case, as Phil bricked on fourth street (as did three others,
including me), then hit the miracle 5 on fifth street.

The only thing remarkable about this account, for me, was the sudden realization that it would have been complete jibberish to me, say, three years ago, before I had played my first hand of razz. Even with a pretty solid understanding of hold'em, I would have had no comprehension of what this story was relating, or the underlying strategic concepts.

I have a few readers who know little or nothing about poker. They read the blog because they know me personally and want to keep up with what I'm doing and thinking. Once in a while I pause and realize how nonsensical it must sound when I write a paragraph or a story that is chock-full of poker terminology and shorthand allusions to strategic concepts that I tend to assume my readers understand without having it all laid out in detail.

The thing that most commonly reminds me of this is when Memphis Mojo does a post about bridge rather than poker, and I'm left scratching my head, trying to grasp what the hell he is talking about--since I don't even know how the game goes. Take this bit from earlier today, for example:

West led the ♦8, a singleton! This has to be an awful lead. Does he
really hope his partner will win the ace and give him a ruff? Haha.

Kate won and led a low diamond to ruff. West was now void, but couldn't
beat my ♠9. Of course, I wouldn't have opened without that card, ahem. She
now had 13 tricks: She took six spades, two hearts, two diamonds, two clubs and
one ruff.

This all means precisely nothing to me. It might as well be written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. It makes me feel a bit stupid, though logically it shouldn't; I'm simply not informed about the relevant subject matter. (In my defense, I recently had occasion, on a completely unrelated writing project, to toss off a paragraph considering porphyria cutanea tarda, mononeuritis multiplex, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, and venous stasis dermatitis, and I'm guessing that Memphis Mojo would be the one left scratching his head over that. So there! Ha!)

All of which is just to say this: Thanks to the non-pokery people who put up with what must be a nearly continual sense of bewilderment at the poker jargon found here. I actually do have some sympathetic sense of how foreign it must feel.


Grange95 said...

I understood almost all of your medical argot, and I am utterly baffled by all of MOJO's bridge chatter. Of course, bridge bidding is utterly perplexing to me as well. The few times I've played, my partner always says something silly like, "I bid 3 hearts, so you had to know I had the Ace and 3 trump in diamonds." Ummm, OK ... Why can't I just roll over one card and ask if he wants a call?

Alex said...

I get a kick out of reading summaries of Cricket games. I have no idea what any of the commentary means. Go find one and try it sometime, unless of course you actually do understand Cricket.

Here is an excerpt from The Guardian that is actually a lot clearer than some I've read.

"The breakthrough came from Graeme Swann's offspin and Haddin's impetuosity as he attempted to haul the ball into the stand at midwicket and succeeded only in finding Strauss stationed near the fence. An end was open. Strauss called up Steve Harmison, an anonymous bystander for much of the day, but an enforcer when the tail comes in. A second slip was moved in and Johnson edged straight to him. Collingwood, the catcher, had not enjoyed a happy catching day to that point. This was held gleefully.

Next Peter Siddle, who tried to scoop to the leg side and helped the ball from the leading edge of his bat to Flintoff at extra cover. Stuart Clark went next ball, taken easily at short-leg and the prospect presented itself of a Harmison hat-trick to end the game and win the Ashes. The dream finish did not materialise as Ben Hilfenhaus defended stoutly. Instead Swann found the edge of Hussey's bat, the ball deflected onto his pad and to short-leg and the job was done."

Conan776 said...

^^Reminds me of the Family Guy episode where Peter listens to BBC Radio "From the world of sport, the Cointen Spinky Whompers flumped the Floing Boing Welfencloppers, 70-fluff to 40-flabe."

Memphis MOJO said...

Sorry bridge has funny language -- I guess each discipline/game/whatever has its own jargon.