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Taller than most. Louder than most.

More layers to my personality than an onion, peel me and I could make you cry.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I doubt many readers will remember a classic kid's book, Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter, where you had to play the "Glad" game.. no matter what happened Pollyanna (an annoyingly positive little chit) would try to help people find the positive side: something to be "glad" about. You know - my house was just flattened by a Tsunami. Cool, you needed to decorate anyway, now you can nubuild etc.

I read this book at an early age and no matter how I tried to fight it I think her refusal to accept bad news affected me from that day on, and I do believe it's what has got me through some pretty tough times over the years. I could have rolled over and given up so many times but I pick myself up, dust myself down and find something positive to focus on, and whether you believe in it or not, it does work. Positive thinking applies to poker - of course it does: if you are waiting for that one outer on the river after you flopped the nuts it always comes. Law of sod an all that.

If you are thinking positively other players at the table pick up on it without even knowing what they are feeling, other than that you are strong. So it doesnt matter whether you have a straight flush or 8 high, if you are giving off that strong, positive image it helps a hell of a lot. (Unless they have a Royal, in which case you're fucked)

But this post isn't related to poker today. An hour ago I was bawling my eyes out like Pollyanna's Aunty (you have to read the book!) but common sense combined with my indomitable sense of survival have allowed me to see the good news from a doctor's appointment this morning.

Friends know I've been having some tests recently as I've basically had a cough since Xmas, plus been pretty run down and feeling generally crap. I have had something called pernicious anaemia for 10 years now, which although I have monthly injections, it can still make you tired so i hoped it was this.

But I knew it wasn't. I smoke pretty much 60/80 cigs a day and I'd be pretty stupid to think a 3 month cough wasn't related.

So a week ago some bloods came back that said the anaemia was at an all time low, which I'm having some extra treatment for, so that explains why somedays even getting out of bed is a chore. But today my X rays came back and the doctor confirmed I have something called COPD.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is the full title, basically it's lung disease and yes it is caused by smoking. I have tenatively googled it and I'm probably not ready to read most of the stuff when google returns "COPD - the final stages" and it isn't a film title. I have to go back for some breathing tests and we go from there. Treatment will involve loads of cardio vascular excercise (I don't even run after a £50 note if it blows away), inhalers, change of diet, change of lifestyle blah blah and obviously no cigarettes.

BUT ... here's Pollyanna...

Two lots of things to be very very "glad" about:

Firstly - depending on how bad it is, it may be able to be reversed, or at least stopped at this stage before it gets worse. This is MASSIVE. I currently can't breathe well at all and it's terrifying so to think that I might have a chance of actually turning this round is like a golden carrot dangling in front of my donkey nose.

Secondly, and this may sound like an If and But.. I DON'T have lung cancer. Obviously this was my biggest worry. Yes COPD is pretty bad but I have a chance of fighting it, a good chance I hope. I'm not sure how positive I would have been if faced with the news it was cancer, and it was what I was dreading.

So I need to concentrate on learning how to get better for a while. I won't be ruling poker out, but it will have to be controllable hours such as cash rather than too many late night tournaments as I need to give my body every chance to recover or at least not get worse. Plus it's a really good reason to Hit n Run - Oh I just won a big pot, I have to go, I have lung disease, okthankxbye ;)

Anyone know much about this disease? If you have it or know someone who has it (preferably still alive ffs) send me an email 2009cal@live.co.uk. Could do with a bit of moral support and/or advice x

Friday, April 01, 2011

I had a conversation recently that highlighted why certain women shouldn't play poker.

Women are generally regarded as calling stations, albeit usually calling with the nuts, whereas a woman with a bit of game in them is generally regarded as anomaly. Certain games bring these women out to play en masse, such as the Betfred Ladies Tour and the Las Vegas team Challenge on Encore/Genting. It was at the final of the latter that three such ladies who limp were on a table with Paul Jackson, who told them if any one of them managed to pull off a bluff he would have sex with them, although he disguised the offer well by saying he would buy them a drink.

Similar to myself, these ladies were all of the age where they know a drink isn't coming their way without having to work for it, so they all legged it to the loo to adjust their Tena lady pad in case they pissed themselves with excitement and returned ready to battle.

Unfortunately, none of the three Musketeers (or should that be Moustachentears) could pull it off (which I think Paul was relieved - or not - about) and at the break they all retired to a coven to discuss tactics, which is when I made the mistake of joining the conversation.

One of them was explaining to me that Paul had said he would get her a drink if she managed to make a play. She then explained to me how

"I've been limping in every hand, and calling every raise hoping to hit something but have had to fold each time. As soon as I hit something I'm going to prove to him that women CAN bluff."

Now then. Is it just me or is there something fundamentally wrong with every word of this sentence?

Of course there are some cracking women players out there, and I don't mean just on a pro level: I play certain girls on a  regular basis who I know are perfectly capable of outplaying most of the men on their table, but women like the ones in the story above let the rest of them down.

I've met some amazing women through poker, mainly through Rock Poker when I first started playing, and I'm proud to count some of them as very good friends. That's why I was very very sad to hear of the untimely death of Kendra Agnew, who died last week aged just 21 years old. I only met Kendra a couple of times, but knew her mum Paula from the RPO/Betfred Tour:  the whole family played poker, including Granny, and they were all great fun and top ladies. Kendra suffered from illness for years and never whinged or let it get her down, supported by her mum who took it all in her stride and had the kind of relationship with her daughter that I strive to have with my daughter. I can't begin to imagine how she feels right now but my heart goes out to her. There's quite a lot of the Rock Poker ladies going to Kendra's funeral to show our respects and support Paula, and all I can say is RIP Kendra Agnew x