Here’s the first journal entry. By the time AMIRTALAI.COM 2.0 has gone live, it’ll probably be years since I’ve written this, so I’m assuming the only reason to write this particular entry now is so when the links or whatever are listed on the journal page, it looks like there have been past entries, giving the site a sense of having been around a while, so people don’t think we’re some fly-by-night operation. And just so you know, the journal wasn’t my idea. The gentleman (I call him that in lieu of payment) building my site is a bit of an HTML mad scientist who thinks the journal makes my site more personal, and he is forcing me to write this. I mean literally forcing – he has these little electrodes hooked up to my fingers (the two I use to type, at least) and if I’m not typing, he shocks me. OW! Stop it Jeff! I hate you!
I just listened to my favorite NPR program. Yes, NPR. My dad (the famous Mike Talai) got me into it; every morning on the way to Berkeley; he wouldn’t let us listen to anything else (“Dat rap music makes me nairvess!”). The show’s called This American Life. If you haven’t listened, I highly recommend it. Go to http://www.thisamericanlife.org to listen to archives or find what time it airs. It’s freakin awesome. I told my friend Jeremy about the site, and he accidentally listened to five one hour episodes in one day. Well, not accidentally accidentally, I mean he did it on purpose, he just didn’t intend to listen to 5 episodes when he first logged on. Kinda like the time he accidentally ate a pound of beef. I only tell you this to illustrate how engaging this show is.
Anyway, today’s program was about “experts”, including that guy that does the amazing basketball dribbling in that commercial, you know the one, and people who make their living by playing poker. These men (and women!) live in Vegas, of course, and generally, they make a very good living. It followed this one woman in the “World Series of Poker” held yearly in Vegas (where I’ve never been, BTW!). She says a typical day consists of waking up around noon, or 1, or 2, feeding the dogs, running errands, and lazing about the house or catching a movie. A few times a week, about 7 or 8 PM, she goes to the casino. For regulars, the casino provides a safe deposit box next to the poker room. She goes to hers, withdraws about $100,000 in chips, and tries to get a game going. She’ll play the medium-large tables (minimum $1,500 per game) until there are enough high rollers to get a real game going (~$5,000 per game). You hear her going “Hey Sal, hey Rich, let’s get a real game going.” The people at these big big money tables are mostly all regulars – they all know each other, are friendly with each other, and after the game, go out drinking together. They’re basically just taking each other’s money. Even though they rely on each other losing to make a living, they’re still friends! So how do they all come out on top? At each game, there’s a loaded out-of-towner or some other such rich person who simply enjoys the thrill of playing against the best of the best. These folks “provide” the game. In other words, they lose.
The program also follows some other poker players, including a guy who, while being interviewed, bets his friend $5,000 on Rock Paper Scissors. I think they were playing best of 7. They’re tied up 3-3, and before the last one, the friend seems pretty confident, until the first guy starts going “I’m gonna throw rock. I’m gonna throw rock. I swear, I am about to throw rock. Watch me, you will see a fist in just a moment.” Now the friend is totally psyched out. He doesn’t know what to do. He guesses the guy is bluffing, so he throws scissors. He isn’t bluffing -- he throws rock and wins $5,000. Another part has a guy playing a poker variation called Texas Hold ‘Em. Two games in a row, he has 2 aces (a really good Hold ‘Em hand). Shockingly, he loses $5,000 the first game. He says, “There’s no way I could lose twice in a row with 2 aces -- I’m gonna keep raising this time.” He does, up to $75,000. Again, he loses! I won’t get into the specifics of why that’s so rare in Hold ‘Em, but it is literally a one in a million chance. There was a one in a million chance he’d lose, and he did. 80 Grand. And of course, he goes back to “work” the next day.
The main woman has seen it all. She started small, and gradually built up her income to where she has a couple million dollars as safety in the bank. Although her monthly gross can be anywhere from -$200,000 to +$200,000 and it’s hard to convince an HMO to give her health insurance, she has a comfortable life, with friends and a large 3 bedroom house.
Some people live their lives not knowing whether today is the day they will win big or what. They know that as long as they are at it, they will hit streaks. They will be on a winning streak and they’ll do their best to enjoy it, because they know a slow time will be there someday. Or they might be in a losing streak that might last months, and if they have a weak constitution, they might think about giving up. But if they’re strong, they’ll keep going, because they know that if they stay persistent, their luck will probably change. So, I’m here in LA now, and I haven’t booked anything spectacular yet, but I’m working hard every day, taking great classes and meeting great people. This week, I had an audition for a big movie and there was a bunch of young Middle Eastern guys there. We all had a nice chat. Don’t know when my next job is coming. It’s only a matter of time, dude. Anyone for a game of poker?