Lee Davy continues his confessions series by explaining how the poker community has helped him become more grateful in his everyday life.
I am standing patiently, waiting for the river card to fall so I can finish the hand, get back to my desk and type it out.
Two players, who are not involved in the hand, are talking about the recent furor caused by Daniel Colman and Olivier Busquet, in the incident referred to as ’t-shirt gate.’
I was concentrating on the poker, so I didn’t hear the entire conversation, but what I did hear were the words:
“They don’t even understand the very thing they are promoting.”
During the break, I approached one of these players and asked if he would like to give his opinion in a recorded interview. The player refused on the grounds that he believed his contribution would be decreed as biased. A debate? No problem. But a one-sided lamentation on why Busquet and Colman were unwise to wear those t-shirts – and by an Israeli no less?
The player started to explain his reasons why he had strong feelings about the pair’s actions. To be honest, it flew over my head with the same supersonic speed as the fighter jets he often sees flying over his.
Politics, war and death.
It’s not really something I am interested in.
I don’t vote; I would be devastated if my son joined the armed forces, and the thought of death makes me miserable.
But I was raised in the UK and circumstances determined my belief system. My father served in the Royal Artillery, and who knows, perhaps a stray grenade here, or a bullet wound there, and I might have a whole different perspective?
I am so grateful that I live in the UK. If poker teaches you one thing, it’s culture. In the past three years, I have met more people from different countries than the previous 37.
It changes you.
Take the man I am sharing a cup of Turkish tea with at the bar.
I explain how I was recently asked to visit Israel, by a work colleague, and how I turned the opportunity down. The timing wasn’t right, but deep down I wouldn’t have gone anyway.
I was scared.
With the very limited knowledge that I have, through snippets of information that flash intrusively on my social media networks, I have gauged the opinion that Israel is at war.
I don’t want to visit a country that is at war.
I could be killed.
My son could be an orphan and my wife a widow.
That’s how I think?
My new acquaintance informs me that it’s not like that in Tel-Aviv.
“They fire rockets but we have an invisible dome that surrounds us, and protects us from them.”
He’s joking of course.
I think he’s joking?
“But it does get scary when the air raid sirens sound. You feel it in here,” he tells me, pointing to his heart.
“I am always arguing with my wife when the sirens go off and I am playing online. I won’t leave my game. I lose connection if I go into the bunker. We always fight when the air raid sirens sound.”
Yesterday, I wrote to the council to complain for the third time that they keep our streetlights on 24/7/365.
Another poker player joins us. He’s from Beirut. He quickly connects with our conversation and also reassures me that it’s fine to travel to places like Tel Aviv and Beirut.
“It’s not like you see on TV,” he assures me.
Maybe not…but there are rockets and air raid sirens!
This past week NATO has been meeting in my hometown of Cardiff. Army helicopters send shivers down the spine of my apartment. China rattles, bones vibrate and forks fall.
The streets are littered with armed police. A barricade has gone up all over the city. There is fear and uncertainty everywhere. You can smell it. A huge metal fence has divided the city, and it makes me think about Berlin.
Is this how it happened in Berlin?
People like myself wandering around the streets thinking, “What is this wall doing here?” Only to find out the following day that if your child happened to sleeping at a friend’s house, on the other side, you were fucked?
I moan about the Internet, I complain about people smoking near the tables, I groan about my aching back.
If you know me you probably think I am miserable and ungrateful.
I just prefer the fact that I have to worry that I might wake up and find a sheep in my bin, and not an unexploded bomb.
Every day when I have finished going for my run, I grab my dream stone, clutch it in the palm of my hand, close my eyes and say a gratitude prayer.
I am grateful for my clients, I am grateful for the ability to wake up when I want, I am grateful for the ability to work from home, I am grateful that I visit so many wonderful countries, I am grateful for the wonderful people that I meet, I am grateful for poker players who give their time to be interviewed, I am grateful for my ability to write, and most of all I am grateful that I don’t have to leave my online poker game to hide in a bunker because a bomb might drop on my house.
“I have been all over the world. Seen many countries. There is nowhere like Israel. This is my home and I will never leave it,” said my friend before heading off into the unknown.