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    November 7, 2003    PAGE SIX      
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 News & Product of the Month
 You Mean I Can't Be Perfect?
 When Frustration Sets In
 Jo Cordi's  Lifestyle Series
 The Joy of Hazelnuts
 Going For Broke
 Great Autumn Recipes!
 Welcome to Your Niche
 Cooking with Jarret Hughes
 Fighting Fat at Work


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          Going For Broke by Rob Chiller

                                                         "If winning isn't everything,
                                                     why do they keep score?"
                                                                      Vince Lombardi

Rob Chiller has rediscovered the joys of speaking his mind after a decade-long stint in Corporate America. When not behind a keyboard, Rob can be found offering his unsolicited opinions on life to anyone who happens to be passing by his house.



Video Poker Admittedly, it's a little strange for any article in a health-related magazine to begin with "Squinting through my cigarette smoke, I gazed thoughtfully at the Video Poker screen."  After all, smoking is a filthy, disgusting, unhealthy, expensive habit, and should never be glamorized in any way, shape, or form. And gambling, while capable of providing us with amazing highs and lows, is rarely a vehicle for self-awareness or self-improvement.

Alas, providence is not always an appropriate mistress. Sometimes, she seems to reward us for detrimental behaviors, and provide inspiration in the most uninspired places. And so it happened that I learned a valuable life lesson while smoking in a casino.   Here's the story:

Squinting through my cigarette smoke, I gazed thoughtfully at the Video Poker screen. I was playing a version of five-card draw called Jacks-or-Better, and was down to my last 25 credits. I had just been dealt a pat flush, with the Two, Jack, Queen, King and Ace of hearts. A very good hand, worth another 25 credits and another twenty minutes of playing time. As I reached to cash in on this effortless hand, I dropped cigarette ash on my leg. The exclamation that followed got the attention of my wife and her friend, who were playing on machines next to mine.

My wife, Marie, looked pleased at the hand I had. "Oh, a flush," she said, "very nice."

On the other hand, her friend Teresa wore an expression that suggested I had just punched an infant. "What are you doing?!" she asked. "You're one card away from the Royal Flush!"

It was true. If I discarded the two of hearts, and drew the ten of hearts, I would have the granddaddy of all poker hands. Worth a cool 4,000 credits, it would be a small windfall. And all I had to do was throw away a sure thing.

What to do? Numerous cliches ran through my head — Should I "go for the gusto?" Should I try to open "the door of opportunity?" Or is a bird in the hand indeed worth two in the bush?

When in doubt, I like to check the math. In this particular case, I needed one specific card out of the remaining 47... which put my chances of hitting the Royal Flush at about 2.1%. Two percent is rarely an inspiring number, unless one is discussing milk. However, the chances of me hitting the Royal Flush by accepting the hand I was dealt was a nice, round ZERO percent.

So the question became why was I playing?  What was my goal?

As I glanced at my wife, she shook her head slowly at me. She was playing just for the sake of playing. She had brought a set amount of money to the Casino, which had been earmarked for a loss. Her goal was simply to get as much play-time as possible out of her money. If she were me, she would just take the flush dealt to her, and continue to play happily until the money ran out.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with this approach. As a matter of fact, it is this attitude that makes Marie the Sole Keeper of the Checkbook in our household. It's her who keeps me in check when I suggest some great money-making scheme, like investing in Enron or WorldCom. Her prudence makes certain we are continuous players in this game of Life.

But, in this case, I didn't want to just play - I wanted to win.

And so, with a heavy sigh, I discarded my Two.

I think it's safe to say that if I hadn't hit the Ten of hearts to complete my miracle hand, you would not be reading this article right now. No, you would be reading a completely different article, probably one about how Casinos victimize us honest, hard-working folk.

As it turns out, the risk paid off, and I walked away with my new fortune.

Yes, life is a funny little thing. If I hadn't been smoking, I would never have dropped ash on my leg, and would never have even considered going for the Royal Flush. Was I being rewarded for my revolting habit? Probably not. My reward for smoking won't come for several years, when I develop golfball-sized tumors in my lungs. No, I would say Fate simply used my nicotine addiction to show me a larger lesson.

Now, I would love to sit here and tell you that the moral of this story is that you should always go for the long-shot, should always aim for the highest point, should always take the two percent chance of big success. Unfortunately, if I gave you this advice (and you listened), you would end up failing 98 percent of the time... and quite frankly, I don't want that responsibility.

What I will say is this: When faced with a situation like mine, you should stop and think. Consider carefully what you can gain if you succeed, and what you stand to lose if you don't. Analyze the benefits of winning, and the detriments to failing. Then examine the empty regret of not even trying.

Whether you're trying to lose weight, applying for a new job, or seeking a Royal Flush of your own, life is replete with opportunities for risk-taking. Is it always worth it? Obviously, there is no pat answer to that. But at the end of the day, when all the cards are on the table, the message seems clear:

If you can afford to, always play to win big.
                                                  

Copyright © November 2003  Rob Chiller and Low Carb Luxury




          

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