This is a regular, random rants-and-reflections post to pass the time while I work on The Big Project. By the way, thank you to all who donated to fund The Big Project.
Due to some interesting life changes, I play less pool these days. I no longer travel as extensively as I once did for the game and my attitude toward tournaments these days is meh. I don’t practice often. I write even less. Yet, there are still pool things I like to do, chief among them the occasional flutter.
I don’t bet as often as I used to, but when I do, I still like the amount to be significant. In my last few escapades, I noticed a trend I did not pay attention to before: the trend of outside aid.
I don’t question other people’s decisions to use whatever they need to take the edge off. We all have fears and pressures and we deal them in our own ways. I have kittens, coffee, and imbibing unreasonable amounts of alcohol during high-speed rides at family-oriented amusement parks. Others have controlled substances.
I can’t stop people from taking drugs while gambling.
I’m just not sure how to beat people who do.
Because–and let’s be honest here, in direct contrast to all the feel-good shit that’s ever been presented in movies and media–the one who does the drugs often does win.
That is not to say I have not been offered an edge. While talking to some non-billiards friends about the recent prevalence of drug use among my opponents, they said if I wanted prescription drugs to help my concentration they could get me some. I declined their offer, saying for me to take drugs not prescribed to me would be against the law. One responded with, “That’s rich, seeing as how your gambling is against the law.” I did not have an answer for that then.
I do now.
The answer I have is that one must live by a code.
“A man’s gotta have a code.”
–numerous villainous yet sympathetic television characters
I have my own standards and I will stick to them, even if it does not make sense to others. I will not compromise those standards because to do so would be to compromise that which makes me the person that I am. If I win, I must win by the methods I deem fair, or else the win holds no value for me.
My refusal to use outside help is not limited to the use of controlled substances. In one of my previous matches where very, very much was at stake, I was offered aid of a sort I never expected: salacious photographs of my opponent. It was suggested I could send those photographs to my opponent prior to playing in order to rattle her or post them online somewhere. I did not. And I lost. And I lost a lot of support because of the loss. And I have never regretted it.
If my opponent needs to snort a Ki off a key during the last four racks of our match in order to win, that will just have to be the way things are. Pool does not test for performance-enhancing drugs even at the world competition level so to expect some sort of miraculous trickle-down reform to the amateur level and then even lower to the murky basement of action is absurd. I go into these matches with the belief my drive will outrun whatever is in their bloodstream, and I have to accept that sometimes, drive is not enough.
There is no solution here, there are only options: I can play or not play.
That is just the way things are.