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Poker game - common App essay--risky topic!


AMehj 3 / 10  
Jan 1, 2010   #1
DEADLINE IN AN HOUR. HELP!
I nervously tapped my foot against the table leg. My heart thrashed against my chest, pumping adrenaline through my every vein. My hands were moistening rapidly. As I looked up at him, premature cocoons were shattering open at the pit of my stomach and my insides were squirming in nail-biting anticipation. He was looking right at me, his stare piercing through me. I dared to meet his unwavering gaze with equal intensity, and I knew he too was wondering if he was doing the right thing. Our hearts racing against each other throughout our unyielding stare-contest and barely audible heavy breathing, we were silently willing each other to make the first move.

Our rapt concentration was interrupted by a faint shuffling of cards on the table and a very loud snort; we were suddenly aware of the third person in the room-the dealer.

"Why do you guys care so much anyway? It's not like you ever play for real money!" demanded my friend, the dealer.

My opponent made a face at her, while I shrugged and responded, "I play to win."

She rolled her eyes and said, "Just finish it up quickly, so I can go eat."

Whenever I sat down for a round of poker with my friends, I did not think of it as a mere pass-time; I contemplated and marveled at the mechanics, brilliance and beauty of the game that are often overlooked. Poker is an ideal amalgamation of all my academic interests: it calls for the concepts of opportunity cost, game theory and comparative advantage of economics, the formulas for probability and logic of statistical mathematics, and the application of psychology [physics??]. It is a complex, intellectually stimulating process that cannot be over-simplified by clear-cut, set-in-stone strategies but requires recollection of all branches of knowledge, close evaluation of a situation and adjusting accordingly. Unlike sterile black and white pieces attacking each other, the implicit war between betting tactics and "pokerfaces" is as unpredictable as a battle of minds should be; and this is why I have taken a relative liking to this strategy game, like no other.

Although it is a game that is often frowned upon as a social nuisance, I believe that its many useful tactics apply to virtually every aspect of life. Poker is my Scarlet Letter. It has opened my mind to my innermost flaws, enabling me to identify, inspect and renovate myself. And for those that have shown poker to be a nuisance, I dare say that they probably have yet to master the principal skill of the game: self-control. Though there have been many instances of open disapproval and downright castigation of the "gambling" aspect of the game, there has also been firm advocacy of its intellectual value. I am certainly no expert, but participating in this game has enlightened me with the life lessons earned.

It has evolved my outlook and my ability to understand and cope with the real competitive world. This game rewards logical thinking and perception of others, and penalizes ignoring the odds and acting impulsively. By emphasizing on the need for good decision-making, it has reinforced my motto to always look before I leap. The importance of considering all odds, probabilities and risk-reward evaluations has contributed in sharpening my analytical mind and providing a framework for making practical decisions under pressure; and thus it has ameliorated my indecisiveness.

Poker has taught me not to gamble. (And I am definitely not willing to gamble away my weekly allowances.) In every aspect of our lives, whenever faced with a curveball, we must choose to take a risk or fold out of the competition. Participating in this game has trained me to not rely on my luck like a weak passive player would, but to write my own fate, to have faith in my own judgments. I strive to implement the devotion and concentration I experience during a game to my everyday life, in order to be similarly aware of myself and my surroundings at all times.

I learnt my most important poker lesson that day during the game my friend, the dealer was so impatient to end. After the short interruption, my opponent and I quickly regained our resolute commitment to the cards at play. The final card was down on the table and staring up at us. I fought hard to suppress the grin itching at the corners of my mouth. Returning his furtive glances, I wondered if he had noticed my relief at the Jack of Diamonds. He suddenly surprised me: "I raise 300", he announced. I sighed lightly and closed my eyes momentarily, in an attempt to organize my colliding thoughts:

Is he bluffing? I should meet his call. After all I have a full house of sevens over jacks. A full house! That would be hard to beat. He can't possibly win. No way!

Clearing my throat, I declared confidently, "I'm going all in," neatly stacking my chips on top of each other. He considered me in one calculative moment and slid all his chips across the table, "Okay then, all in."

This was always my favorite part in the game-the bittersweet stage when all would be revealed, there would be no more secrets and everyone would know his worth. He started to bang on the table eagerly, as I bit my lip and help my breath. The dealer rolled her eyes again and barked, "Show your cards, already!"

It was like watching a car crash in slow motion. I knew something terrible was about to take place. I knew it when I saw that repugnant smirk slowly spread across his face, as he upturned his two cards-the Jack of spades and the Jack of hearts! He defeated my sevens over jacks with his jacks over sevens!

"What a cruel twist of fate," my friend, the dealer remarked sardonically, as my former adversary laughed uproariously over his glorious victory.

"It was not fate. It was my mistake. I just did not consider the possibility-" I mumbled, sulking.

"At least you finished the game. I am starving," she attempted to console me, "and nice hand by the way!"

As she hurried out of the room to grab a snack, I pondered over her words and grasped their profound meaning, which she had probably not in fact intended. Perhaps, it is not important that I win every time, but important that I always finish the game. Obsessing about winning and grieving over losses will only keep me stuck in yesterdays. I must gather myself, accept my failures and continue on, risking more bets, discovering new strategies and picking up little lessons along the way.

Poker, to me, is a game of skill and a teacher of life lessons, although often stigmatized as being useless and immoral. My involvement in this activity has taught me the patience and perseverance to recover from a losing streak. I have developed perceptive insight that is crucial to recognize a bluff and discern the behavior of others around me. While attaining the wisdom to know when to fold, I have also unearthed the confidence to take risks by betting large; because the realization, that I can only gain as much as I risk, has fuelled my dedication. Most importantly, I have discovered the resilience to stay strong and graceful even after I go all in and lose to a better hand. At the end of a game, it should be good enough just to get a pat on the back and a "Nice hand!" even though another player had a nicer hand. Because even if someone else has won the race, it is important that I still cross the finish line in style.

Suggest a title for my essay and tell me what I should remove or emphasize on. THANK YOU. DEADLINE IN AN HOUR
keshwa01 - / 8  
Jan 1, 2010   #2
cocoons really?
not physics, you're looking for psychology
and what the hell? relative interest. you like it or you don't. be clear when you can. convoluted crap will not earn you brownie points.

poker is a type of gambling. change the wording of one sentence or another so it doesn't sound like you don't know what's going on.
skyworthy 3 / 17  
Jan 1, 2010   #3
I think it is too long.

Definately good, but too long hurts anyone.

can u check mine? thanks
bardown13 2 / 9  
Jan 1, 2010   #4
Agreed. Really good, but a little too long. However, I dont think the topic is risky at all. Its different, which will make it stand out among the thousands of other essays that the admissions people will go through.
OP AMehj 3 / 10  
Jan 8, 2010   #5
Thanks Tulip Bacchan, it's mutual :)
grocks6 3 / 12  
Jan 8, 2010   #6
Actually, I believe that your essay is great as it is! This is a wonderful topic and if I am correct, U Chicago will be very pleased to see such an outstanding essay about a topic I'm sure most people do not write about :)
glimmering 1 / 14  
Jan 8, 2010   #7
How could you "control" yourself withour participating real gambling?
And though you are trying not to be emotional but relying only on probability, the lessons you had attained from the defeat taught you a courageous all-in bet, which does not make sense.

Your overall essay is good but it seems like fluctuating a little bit.


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