Why do we love playing cards for money?
The all-in bluff has no gravity in the real world, yet we feel the pull of its attraction. And we all bathe, or stew, in the glow of its smug satisfaction. As in great novels, the ‘injustices’ of poker are fictional. Yet we feel their sting.
We may all live as liars, but we are completely honest sitting down to the poker table with equal chips. We have clear intentions, to deceive one another, and clear motivation for doing so, money.
A mask is more revealing than a face, said Wilde. Statuesque or cocksure, chatty or intimidating, we choose which to put on. Masks aren’t mandated, optional, or political at the poker table. They are a necessity and everyone wears at least one. We reveal ourselves through the qualities of our deception.
Why do we love playing cards for money? Because the stakes of this game are exactly right. Enough to matter, but never fatal. The bank balance may not survive, but the account holder always does. And those winnowed down get to tell (and dramatically exaggerate) the story of how they became empty-pocketed.
And so today at noon begins the main event of the 2022 Irish Open. The stakes, €1,150 per, are exactly right, as is the guaranteed prize pool — one million Euros. We have waited three years for this, forces of the real world having intervened. But we are all the way back, here, now, at Dublin’s bustling CityWest Hotel, to tell our tales and to author new ones. Commiseration and triumph await.