I play a lot of poker. Well, more accurately, I used to play a lot of poker. When I first moved to Memphis I was broke and waiting for my first month's postdoctoral salary was hard. Doubly hard because new postdocs really make a shitty salary - I started on $38,000 which was, at the time, the NIH standard salary for someone of my experience. My postdoc mentor was kind enough to arrange an advance for me which helped cover rent and groceries for the first month, but that naturally meant a smaller paycheck for the first two months in order to pay back the advance. And as much as new postdocs are enslaved to the lab for 14 hours a day, we are also often gregarious creatures who need to blow off a bit off steam in the pub and the thought of sitting at home, on the floor listening to the radio waiting for my furniture to arrive from DC and my paychecks to catch up with my meager lifestyle was not an option for me. So, I found a local poker game to play in, and one game became two, which became three, and within a few weeks I was playing poker five or six nights a week.
There are a lot of analogies, metaphors and aphorisms about the game of poker and the game of life. I've written before about the language of poker and the language of science. I've written elsewhere, now long gone, about the thrill of the game, of having a winning hand and knowing it's a winning hand. And of the darker thrill of thinking you have winning hand and playing it out, sometimes against the odds.
I'm back in the game now, and I'm all in.
I can't go into details really, but suffice it to say I am playing for the whole stack right now. The cards are dealt, I know what's in my hand and I've got a better than evens chance of being correct at guessing the hands of some of the other players. I can see the cards on the table and I've got a great hand. I might even have the winning hand. But there's one more round of betting left in the game and the stakes are so high I had to fold and lose everything or just go all in.
I called the bet and went all in.
Everything now rests on the actions of one more player. The play decides my future, immediate and long term. I hope the bet is called and the chips are all on the table. I hope we go there. Everyone stacked into the pot. But more than that, I hope when that bet is called and the cards are shown that I have the hand I think I do.
Win big or go home. I'm all in.