Poetry and poker

Poker was never my cup of tea. It was one of those things I wanted to be good at just to look cool, but it failed as I still remain a horrid poker player. I was given a second wind, however, when I spent about an hour with Stud Poetry by Marco Niemi. In the game only your words have values because the goal is to construct the strongest poetry–and win money, too!!–line you can muster with the cards you are dealt.

The objective of Stud Poetry is to create the best poetry line possible, using words that are “dealt” to you. The player is only given the option to “call” “raise” or “fold,” and, from this, the player determines the value of the words dealt–just as in poker and how the many combinations of suits have a particular value–which is interesting because all writers use specific words for their particular writing style and most writers have a unique style and vocabulary. When you have a bad hand, however, the only logical option is to fold, but at times, I felt as though my words were decent–I could have smashed together something creative, poignant and deep with the words I was dealt; however, compared to the other AI-controlled players, their word combinations surpassed my own.

After my short time with Stud Poetry–I still, unfortunately, suck at poker, and I’m a pretty bad poet, as well–what I took from this work is a better understanding of how difficult it is to create great poetry. Before taking this class, my view of poetry continued to flip-flop; either it was a bunch of words slammed together, luckily creating a work that filled the souls of readers with intellectual satisfaction, or the words are personally and specifically chosen by the poet, so that his or her emotions aren’t misinterpreted. Poetry and poker is an awkward mix, but then again, what isn’t awkward in new media?