I got asked this the other day. I didn’t know how to respond right away, however, when I want to mess with people’s heads, I reply:
I play poker.
To which they’ll almost always respond,
You play poker?
Now, since you can’t hear the inflection in their collective voices when they respond, it’s usually in one of two ways. Either, unbelievably, as in, “What, are you nuts?” or, interested like, “Cool!”
The “What, are you nuts?” faction, herein after referred to as simply, ‘nuts’, usually walk away with a strange look on their face, after they’ve asked the follow up question with the sound of incredulity in their voice, and goes something like this, “How can you earn a living playing poker?” To which I usually reply, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you,” or some such other random movie quote, which doesn’t actually answer their question, simply because at its base, poker is a game of deception. And as we know, with any game, ultimately it can’t be won, it can only be played.
The fact is, I do, and it’s really none of their business how I do it. Unless, they wish to pay me for the privilege. Rates are available, and pretty steep. Just because I have the ability to teach, doesn’t mean that I want to. I feel that this reaction is judgmental as they’ve formed an opinion based on what I do, and not who I am, and I don’t need them as friends.
On the other hand, those that reply, “Cool!” usually become some of my newest best friends. People that I’d want to hangout with, when I’m not playing poker, or doing whatever else it is that I do on any given day.
Of course, the context of the question is sometimes taken into account. It comes down to where I am when I get asked. I was once at a poker tournament when someone made the grandiose statement, “There are no professionals here.” To which I replied, “I guess I’m not here then.” Now, at this point, I could’ve gotten up and left, however, I did achieve the desired effect, and took all his money later in the tournament. Then he got up and left, shaking his head all the way.
Usually, if I get asked the question at the poker table, I tell the other players that I’m a filmmaker, except as noted above. I do this, simply to mess with the players’ heads. Most of the time, if I can get you to talk about anything else while at the table, you’re not going to be concentrating on the game. It also helps that I am indeed a filmmaker, and a pretty good one at that.
Yes, there’s more to poker than life. No matter what it is you’re doing for a living, ultimately, it’s none of my concern. Tell me what you want. I’m not going to check you out or anything. There’s no background check involved. Of course, I’m not going to ask in the first place. Unless of course, I want to mess with your head, or, put it on virtual film.
Disclaimer: I originally wrote this in late November of 2008, and it was published shortly thereafter on the now defunct Idea Masters™ site. This was #6 in that series.