I love the expression used in poker “all in.” It’s a perfect expression on a few levels. Poker is all about calculated risks. It’s about the players knowing the cards and the statistics of what cards are out there that can help their hand and their opponents’ hands. They have studied and learned and they do the math and make the play.
But poker is also about deceit. It’s about facial expressions and reactions, or rather contrived reactions. It’s the difference between a group of people like me playing poker asking, “wait what’s a royal flush again?” and the pros who pretend they are upset when they really just got the hand of a lifetime.
In relationships, we often play these games. Typically no one wants to get hurt and no one wants to risk more than what the pot will allow for them to stay in the game. And so we mask our feelings or don’t let on, playing it cool and safe and even going so far as to losing a couple rounds to establish something or other about how we play so that we can fool everyone later on. It’s all mind games and it’s every man for himself. At least that’s what I gleaned from the World Series of Poker and the movie Rounders. (I also learned how to have an atrocious Russian accent from the usually solid John Malkovich. But that’s another blog which I’ll write maybe. I’m betting never.)
So what if, just for kicks, we played in a way where the goal was for everyone to win? What if everyone just turned over their cards and said, here they are; help me? And what if no matter what anyone risked or lost, everyone just shared the final winnings and walked away having learned and become richer?
Of course that sounds like a lot of hooey kumbaya nonsense and pretty much the worst idea ever. For poker. But in life, I feel it’s the only way to survive. We need to take risks – calculated risks, mind you, that involve thoughtfulness, self-awareness, prayer (loads of it), and hope – and we need to rely on each other to all come out ok in the end.
This all said, there are people who tend to naturally throw aside all caution and run amok recklessly like a tornado spinning chaos through everyone’s lives. And that’s when you have to decide when it’s time to walk away. Just like Kenny told us. But when you have the cards stacked up, and the odds are such a way you will win more than what you came with, no matter what else may happen, you can go all in without a second thought. If there is such a thing as a no risk relationship, it’s the one where no one holds back and everyone is committed to the very best end result there could possibly be all things considered. And I’m betting high on this much: when you leave it at the foot of the Throne, you will never lose. You might find me pacing a bit or chewing my nails off. But more than likely just sitting back and smiling.
And of course I would be totally remiss to not post this song… which I have to say is just a touch creepy with muppets…