Asking Amy cheers poker players on

Asking Amy cheers poker players on

October 03, 2017 3:00 AM


Amy Dickinson has outstanding credentials for giving advice to others. She writes a syndicated daily column, “Ask Amy,” published in newspapers across the country. People write in, seeking her wisdom concerning various personal problems. In 2003, she succeeded the popular Ann Landers as the world’s signature advice columnist.

Dickinson has also written several popular books. Her memoir (published in 2009), “The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them,” quickly made The New York Times’ bestseller list.

In the L.A. Times, her column is featured on the same page with the crossword and Sudoku puzzles, and the Dennis the Menace cartoon, all of which I so enjoy. I read her “Dear Amy” column every day and am constantly amazed by her logical responses and the extent of her wisdom that she shares to help others.

Recently, I was taken by surprise when I read her column addressed to “Heartbroken,” a woman whose teenage daughter had a personal problem related to dating a boy with whom she was smitten. Amy suggested the mother help her young daughter “find her power” by being “active and social.” Of course, that would enhance her self-confidence and, hence, she’d be able to make better decisions in life. To do so, Amy suggested the girl should “develop a new skill like playing poker.” Wow! Teach and encourage her young daughter to play poker so as to improve her ability to cope with this and other situations in her troubled life…

I gave some thought to her suggestion to “find her power” as it applies to playing poker. According to Wikipedia, there are many forms of power – the ability to produce an effect, to control or influence. Isn’t that what we do every moment while playing poker? In that regard, poker can improve our ability and self-confidence.

Needless to say, that particular “Ask Amy” column got my attention! I would never expect such an extraordinary recommendation and rationale for playing the game of poker.

So I wrote to Amy and asked her to elaborate. Why did she advise this woman to encourage her troubled daughter to improve her life by learning to play poker? It was much more than just curiosity on my part. Never before had I read such an intriguing comment from an expert on life such as Amy Dickinson.

Amy took the time to reply. She reiterated: “Why did I choose poker?” and then explained, “mainly because it is a game that requires concentration and strategy and communication. It is easy to learn but challenging to play. And it’s fun.”

Interesting. And all so true, I thought. I pondered over her words of advice for this woman. The game does require concentration – focusing on the action during each hand, and carefully observing your opponents so you can make better decisions to your advantage. Wise strategies – and, I would add, tactics – are essential to becoming skilled; that’s what it takes to be a consistent winner at the game.

Communication is an integral part of poker. We do that at the table with words and actions: bet, call, raise, fold, take a break, change your seat or table, order dinner from the food server, buy more chips.

Without any doubt, certainly, as Amy notes, poker is “easy to learn.” You can pick up the basics of the game in a matter of minutes. And, as she says, playing poker is very challenging to the mind. It constantly tests a player’s knowledge and skills. And, yes, it is so much fun to play. That’s all to the good.

In the final analysis, I do agree with “Ask Amy.” Her advice is right on the money. I’ll bet you agree with me.