• Caroline Wright

On betting the flop

At first I was skeptical about meeting strangers online, often at random. (Note to self: I still am.) There is sense of convenience, however, knowing that potential companionship can be found with a few simple clicks (or swipes). But in a virtual world where profiles are optional, what you see is often less than what you get.

One of the first things I noticed when I started connecting with people online was that [most] everyone I encountered had an interesting story. Sometimes those stories were shocking and depressing; other times weirdly entertaining. Then there were a few that were scary, even borderline insane. (Do avoid these at all costs.) Needless to say, the results, for me, were typically disappointing. Sometimes I debated if these people I "met" were actually human; often I wondered who their parents were.

I present to you Exhibits A and B of aforementioned dating experiences:

Exhibit A:

The phone rings.


A charismatic voice replies, "Hey, are you?"

Presuming he's being sincere, I begin by telling him about my day, starting with my latest job interview.

After a few moments, he interrupts, insisting upon the urgency of the call on the other line.


"Nope, still me," I say.


"What?" he defends. "I can't hear you."



My name is not Danielle.

Exhibit B:

The Canadian bloke.

After several weeks of pulling away, he admits he no longer wants to deal with the inconvenience of crossing the Ambassador Bridge.


Sheesh! Even the chicken crossed the road for sillier reasons:

-To get to the other side.

-To avoid becoming lunch.

-To meet its other chicken friends.

-Because it was stapled to a moving object.

Too bad I'm not Canadian. Or a hen.

Poker with the Queen of Hearts

You said you were all in,

but then I called your bluff.

After my winning hand you chased me down,

unconvinced you’d had enough.

The next hand wasn’t dealt quite right,

even though you thought you’d won.

Your flush was red with all but hearts.

Cheers!—to thinking you were done.

A man must learn a hand without hearts,

whether borrowed or one’s own,

leaves a queen without a choice:

to fold her cards; dethrone.

Take your money and run, you coward,

sprint as fast as you’re able,

knowing never again will you be welcomed back

to sit here at my table.

The late Maya Angelou once said: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."

It's a good point. People typically show you much of who they are almost immediately—on the flop. Generally speaking, we reveal ourselves to others in many ways during initial meetings and within a short period of time. Trouble is, our awareness level is not always up to speed, and people can be quite deceptive, giving trust a real run for its money. To make matters worse, we get so used to trouble that it actually becomes normal for us. But there are always signs. Symptoms. Precursors. Flags. Inconsistencies. Not-so-right feelings, especially in your gut.

Listen. Observe. Learn.

No one is asking you to become Sherlock Holmes, but perhaps be a little more Watson, more of the time. It takes practice, patience, and above all, self-control. That's because while it takes courage to begin your investigations of others, you'll need it most when the findings are actually revealed and it's time to act accordingly. You struggle when the conclusion involves a truth you don't really don't care for.

Here are a few scenarios along with their suggested "next steps":

  • The person on the other end of a text message chain starts seemingly unprovoked arguments early in the relationship. Be advised that there will be more of those in your future. You should probably stop responding, even if it's not you getting in the last word.

  • Your significant other nonchalantly tells you he/she is going to get a head start on the camping adventure (that you initiated), in order to hang out with friends (that you invited), and will await your arrival in a couple days. Know your arrival has since become optional, if not obsolete. Stay home.

  • If, while sitting on the couch, the other person admits they're still in love with their ex, respect yourself enough to end the relationship, right then and there. (Especially before moving things into the bedroom!) As wonderful as you are, this is the other person's way of admitting you're just a rebound. (So, bounce!)

  • A person who tells you they are not into making plans most probably is not into making plans with you right now. Unless the plan involves you-know-what (on short notice, of course). Go make real plans with someone else.

  • Beware of the date who oversleeps on your first brunch-date. The same person may also oversleep on more important days, too. While postponing until lunch is okay, look for signs that they have since showered.

It's hard to fold. No one really likes to lose. Plus, you dusted yourself off after your last round and got back into the game, against all odds. But understand that losing can be good, especially when it involves a dead-end relationship—no matter how great it seems—as long as you don't bet everything away.

Always gamble responsibly!

With some people, you'll know it's not meant to be, pre-flop. No question about it: these people you meet are not for you. With them, you forfeit right away and wait to be dealt a better hand. On the flip-side, when people are absolutely fabulous, you bet on them instantly. As they continue to impress, you stick around for the turn. (Things start heating up!) If you remain lucky still, you continue on to the river, followed by the showdown, when everyone's cards are on the table. Now things are pretty intense and emotional, and you start having expectations for how you want your game to turn out. Be mindful that that while you have the option of folding at any time with these people too, the longer you stay in the game with them, the more invested you become. So play smart.

Playing becomes harder when someone deals you a mediocre hand. These are people you're intrigued by—they show their cards and you like them, so you want to see more cards. Although, you're not entirely sure what your odds are with them if you continue playing. Suddenly you're confused. At this point you start questioning everything. Now other people may start to see things more clearly than you do, so you begin to notice the pouring-in of outside relationship advice. But let's face it: if you were betting $1,000,000, you'd fold a mediocre hand without thinking twice.

Know that some people you meet are like "higher-end mediocre hands," such as a low three-pair. They're good people (often great people!), but not entirely right for you at the time (through no real fault of their own). Tempting? Oh, yes. Exciting? Absolutely! To figure out your next move with these folks, you'll have to consider who and what you're really playing for. Otherwise, you may end up settling, or discarding too soon.

As you continue playing rounds in any relationship (or lack thereof), pause to reconsider whether or not you're "all in" (i.e. betting with your heart). If not, step away from the game to regroup until your intentions are clearer, else you may end up making irrational decisions you'll later regret. When you're playing for authentic reasons, you start to notice your decisions becoming more natural—even automatic—because you finally have your own interests in mind, especially with so much at stake. After all, your heart is worth a million bucks! Play this way, and no matter what happens in the end, you still end up winning the jackpot.

Internationally-acclaimed Polish street artist, SAINER, and his partner, Bezt, collectively known as Etam Cru (meaning "whatever" or "I don't care"), create epic, large-scale murals that depict Eastern European folklore and mysticism and blend them with humor, sarcasm and surrealistic fantasy. They have created works all over the world, some spanning buildings ten stories high. They received international attention for the piece, "Moonshine", displayed in Richmond, VA.

The above mural, "Primavera" is a work from Lodz, Poland, created by SAINER himself.

#gameoflove #Poker

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