01/01/2008

New Years Resolution

Barry Carter

In this day and age of obesity and type 2 diabetes, there looks to be very little chance that “I am going to lose weight” will be knocked off the top spot for the average westerners New Year’s Resolution list. I personally don’t like new year’s resolutions by definition, any good intention is doomed to fail by calling it such a name, but I will be one of the porkers trying to reduce one’s porkiness in 2008, whether or not I call it a resolution.

Poker is essentially a desk job, whether you are at your PC or in a casino. Like many of you out there, the sedentary life of a poker player may well be the reason for why I have gone up a belt size and conveniently ‘forget’ to weigh myself every Monday morning. I wouldn’t say I was fat, but I used to be in really good shape and I’m much closer to fat than I am to those glory days.

And a ‘poker gut’ is not a rare thing to see in a card room these days. I often complain that when a casino has ten or eleven players to a table it is too many people from a ‘playing’ point of view, but now I’m starting to think that my real problem is the actual physical space. Those tables were probably designed to fit eleven normal sized men comfortably, but didn’t properly look at the poker players demographic when they did. Is my love for shorthanded poker actually a just an appreciation of being able to stretch out and let everything hang loose?

I’ve been at a tournament before when a portly gent busted early from the competition, tried to make his way out of the card room and literally couldn’t. All the players in the surrounding seats were also fat chuffs and nobody had enough space to clear him a path out of the poker room. It wasn’t until another played busted and we were able to move a table or two subtly and strategically that he was able to leave.

Despite nobody able to give an inch to allow their fellow man to leave the card room with dignity, I’m pretty certain it would have been a breeze to clear the room if they just went and announced the buffet was open. I can’t think of many places where being at the back of a queue means you are probably going to starve, than it does at the buffet of a poker festival. I was in London this year at the WSOPE and chuckled every day when, without fail, it would seem that occupying positions 1 and 2 of the front of the buffet queue would be Jimmy Fricke and Greg Raymer (How do I know? I was usually right behind them in the bronze position).

Yep, this poker is a sedentary lark which I want to do something about without reducing the time I spend at the table. I’ve toyed with turning my PC into some sort of exercise bike powered poker machine but I’m scared I might sweat on my mouse and misclick at a crucial time. If Dusk Till Dawn could open up a little gym in their backroom that would help too.

But I turn to some of less fat poker players based in the States for my real inspiration to shed the pounds while winning dollars (geddit?) in 2008. While most people were shocked at the sums of money Erick Lindgren won during his crazy golf prop bet at the WSOP, I started to ponder how much weight he lost in the process. Patrik Antonius and Gus Hansen have a much publicised high stakes tennis match planned, which is another great (and much safer) way to combine exercising and a love of wagering big sums of money (I’d still need some hefty plastic surgery if I were to come close to replicating those two particular poker studs).

There have of course been a multitude of weight loss bets that have been a staple part of poker folklore. I’ve even noticed a thread popping up on the Hendon Mob forum proposing a community based weight loss bet. I for one am more than up for this and will happily listen to anyone who wants to make a big bet that I can’t lose X amount in X days, can’t lose more than them, can’t lose more than them with a 6lb handicap etc etc - though I must admit a more ‘long term’ bet would be a better solution which would probably stop me from downing a cocktail of laxatives for a week solid.

It’s probably a bit sad that I have to resort to begging the poker community to gamble with me that I can make a diet work, but maybe that’s what a lot of poker players need. Poker is the reason (or at least excuse) for the two or so stone I’m trying to shift and at least this way I can spend time at the gym and claim it to be ‘work’.