Being Phil Laak … Trees, Clapping and Terra Fish

Phil tries his hand and Zen interpretation

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

What is the sound of one hand clapping?
If you lose 5K to a Terra Fish, did you really lose it?

The first two questions have been around for a while … the third is my own.

The first question is simple enough.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? 

The definition of sound, simplified, is a hearable noise. The tree will make a sound, even if nobody hears it. Effectively a sound is a hearable noise. So since the tree falling could have been heard, even though nobody was around to do so, it would still have had made a sound.

The second question is not so simple.

What is the sound of one hand clapping? 

zen rocks and poker chipsIt is a Koan. Koan’s are used in Zen practice to provoke the “great doubt” and test a student’s progress in Zen practice. That being said, here are some of my favorites I found on the Internet.

- The sound of one hand clapping is a tiny sound that can be barely heard by humans.

- Using a sound recording device, clap with one hand. Play back the result.

The actual answer to this question will be different for many. A lot depends on who you are and what you and your life are up to really.

The third question is sort of a “time warp” brain teaser for the poker junkies out there.

If you lose 5K to a Terra Fish, did you really lose it?

Let me share a story and then you tell me!

First off, let me explain what a Terra Fish is. They are better than fish, but not as good as whales. They fall somewhere in between. Let me explain. Fish feed people, Terra Fish feed families (plural) and whales feed entire villages. While the Terra Fish is not as exciting as a whale, one thing that makes them fun is this. Terra Fish don’t leave the table until they are broke. (Yes, there have been sightings of Terra Fish leaving with chips. It does happen, but rarely enough that for all intents and purposes, you can consider it a non-event.)

The 20/40 PLO game at the Commerce died earlier than normal and I was still waiting on the food I had ordered. Time for some 10/20 NLH. I sit. It’s a cookie cutter lineup, a little of this, and a little of that. Nothing special. And then out of nowhere … What’s this? Oh my! An actual Terra Fish sighting! Anyway, he takes the last seat!  (What a good time to have a seat open … running good.)
I have played with this one before. This will be fun!! His loss rate is prolly in the ballpark of $2,000 to $5,000 an hour. A very nice guy … Terra Fish often are. Anyway … he does sit. And with a $5,000 stack.

But remember. He is a Terra Fish. When he buys in the money is already gone. Metaphysically that is. In the current universe, the one where he sits with $5,000 in front of him, it might actually look like he has $5,000 in front of him. But that is an illusion!! What is really sitting there are “equity packets” TOTALLING $5,000. “Equity packets” are the different clumps of his stack that he will inevitably lose to the other players. The moment his $5,000 goes into play it vanishes (to the other players) in a puff of logic!

Technically, time needs to pass first. But since time always passes and the Terra Fish always goes broke well, you see the point, right?!!

I ended up getting it in quite live but behind. The Terra Fish called my HUGE all in bet with K 7 offsuit against my Qs7s on a Js 6s 2c board. (Don’t worry, we ran it twice and I hit an offsuit queen both times! On the second card no less!) (Sick brag.) All of the “equity packets” lumped together and were sent over in one big delivery. Nice.

But what if I had lost that pot? What would I have lost?

I wouldn’t have had actually lost the $5,000!! A part of his newly minted stack is actually one of those “equity packet” thingys!! And it awaits its return to my stack! I am getting a “time warp future earn rebate” on the loss! Whatever my “equity packet” would look like from him having a 10K stack is, in fact, my instant “time warp rebate”!

If my “equity packet” from his 10K stack is $1,500 then hypothetically speaking I have only lost $3,500 of the original $5,000!!!

So back to the original he question …

If you lose 5K to a Terra Fish, did you really lose it?

Will time pass? Will you still be in the game when the Terra Fish takes his last hand? If you said yes twice then you didn’t really lose it.

It feels counter intuitive because it is counter intuitive. But it is one of the wrinkles in the fabric. Accept it and relax. And the next time you play with a Terra Fish may the little Buddha within you awaken.

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October 2014