The Gambler’s Advice

I’ve driven through Las Vegas, played a game or two- didn’t lose any money probably because I didn’t exactly gamble, so I guess I haven’t really experienced Vegas, but about that we’ll talk another time. What brought a flood of memories back were the timing of song I heard on radio and a deck of cards I found as I unpacked a box- (we just moved and bought a house a few miles down). I’m sorting and finding things, and that deck of cards with the Ace of Spades sticking out and staring at me just made me smile.

Growing up, I’d spend a holiday or two with my giant family of fun-loving cousins, and I’d watch them play cards, bluff and gamble, and when I thought I’d learnt the game, I’d try my hand ever now and then. I remember reading faces, catching the bluffs but also sometimes losing at the game quite early. I never liked the idea of losing- not one bit (and that’s pretty normal I’m sure). I held onto my cards as though they were a part of my being. Losing a game felt like someone slammed the door in my face. It made me frustrated and confused and unable to grasp the reality that life doesn’t always go the way you so possessively try to shape it. Still I swallowed my pride and played another game- always betting I’d win, which in fact didn’t happen so often. So you can imagine how down right droopy I’d be most of my holiday time.

The only thing that made me feel better was when I watched those soccer matches – if a country lost the game, the fans would wail and weep and sadness would eclipse the entire nation, and year after year they would keep playing and going through the whole circus of emotions again. I only felt better because perhaps my reactions were a tad less dramatic, but really I was no different. Winning a game, winning a project or a deal, winning someone’s trust meant the world to me, and I invested my energy and all my thoughts and plans into making sure it didn’t stray from my chartered course.

Then one day, no actually, a lot of days, when I lost the game or when a plan of success fell through like a stack of cards, I’d have to shake my head and realize what I’d heard somewhere about the trick of the master gambler- he doesn’t attach his emotions to his cards. He can let them go, give them up and even risk losing.

So as I unpacked one of my last boxes for the day and lay that deck of cards on a table with the radio turned on, I heard my last bit of advice on letting go and not getting too caught up onto something.

Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin’
Is knowin’ what to throw away
And knowin’ what to keep

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em…
Know when to walk away
And know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done

 (-Kenny Rogers, ‘The Gambler’)




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