What Comes Next

It’s fall now, and just starting to get cold in Texas. I haven’t written in a while.

The book, The Philosophy of Poker, I will collate and edit from the pieces written on this blog. I’ll release it within the next couple of months as an e-book. There will be extensive editing, some additional material I’ve thought of in the interim while writing the book, and some revisions of ideas that I’ve changed my mind about. On the whole, if you want to have all of the work in one easy-to-read format, or something you can read on an e-book reader, you will be pleased with the final result. If there is enough demand, I may consider doing audio recordings of the chapters.

But that’s all forthcoming. What about now? What comes next?

The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.

David Foster Wallace

Those of you who follow me on my blog must have noticed an obvious trend in these blog entries. I have been pontificating about poker and psychology and whatnot. But I haven’t talked about myself at all over the past year.

I’ve always been bad at that. I’m a better listener than a speaker. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons that I fell into poker so naturally—poker is all about listening, observing, and deciphering the person in front of you. It is more about seeing than saying.


It should have been a tough year for me. From having Jason Burt steal 90k from me and disappear, to learning in the 11th hour, after FTP remissions began, that my former Red Pro status barred me for receiving my locked up balance, to other financial hiccups—I’ve run about as bad as a retired poker player can run.

But that’s okay. It’s hard to be mad. Anger doesn’t come naturally to me. And ultimately, I’m okay. I’m not going to starve, and I have my health. I am grateful for that. Perhaps this is all deserved, and the way it should be—some kind of cosmic equalization. No doubt, I have a lot of bad karma to work off still.

It’s been two years now. Two years, and still, the Girah affair is fresh in my mind. How stupid is that? Two whole years. Even now, I have dreams about it. I wake up feeling like I’m in the middle of it again. When I see stories about public scandals, my stomach retracts into a pit. I can’t even read them without feeling sick. It’s as though the guilt is lodged somewhere deep in my intestines, or branded into my DNA. Whenever I think about the scandal itself, about everything that I did, it just crushes me.

To tell you the truth, I’ve believed ever since then that I am a bad person. For two years now, since I returned to the States, I’ve been living as simply as I can and doing volunteer work almost every week—construction work with Habitat for Humanity, and now, teaching English to refugees for iACT. I’ve tried my best to be kind, to be selfless, to give myself away. Really, I’ve been desperate. For what, I don’t know. Absolution? Salvation? Assurance that I am not wretched? I don’t know what would be enough.

I get nods from strangers, smiles, little stories about how I’ve helped. I am told to come back next week, and the week after that. Things haven’t changed.

What comes next? In spite of everything, life smears itself forward.

I’m not sure where I’m going next. I’ve given thought to many roads. Going to law school; pursuing a PhD; entering finance; going west and joining the world of entrepreneurs. I don’t know yet for sure, but I’ll likely know—or have to—after the next six months.

Right now, I have to focus on right now. I need to edit this book, focus on my work, keep looking forward. I have to trust the process. The answers to the questions—what comes next, and how to like it—I will have to do without for the moment.

How To Like It—by Stephen Dobyns

October 11 2013
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Managing Partner at Dragonfly Capital. Effective Altruist. Airbnb, Earn.com (acquired by Coinbase) alum. Instructor @ Bradfield. Writer. Former poker pro. Donate 33% of my income to charity.

San Francisco
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