all in and drawing dead - a collaboration between Peter Precourt and Seth Mittag
"If you aren't beating the game, you are being outplayed. There is a reason why you lose, even if you can't figure it out." -Albert Morehead
Twenty years ago, if the word "poker" was mentioned, most people would visualize one of the following contexts: a shady smoke-filled backroom filled with thugs, a messy bachelor pad littered with beer cans, or the kitchen table with a roll of pennies and Aunt Louise. High profile television coverage and online gambling and has changed all that. In January of 2003, $11,000,000 was wagered on internet poker. In eight short months, that number had increased more than tenfold: players wagered $131,000,000 dollars online in September of 2003. Those numbers are still growing. Our national pastime is no longer baseball. It is poker.
The rules that govern poker tap deeply into the American psyche. Poker is not a team sport. Each player is on his own, master of his own fate. It requires skill, courage, discipline, and in the short term - a little bit of luck. In the long term, everyone's luck is the same. The best players consistently win. The worst consistently lose. Poker is fiercely democratic; everyone with cash, who plays fairly, is welcome. The scoreboard is kept with money. It is critical to remember that poker, in its pure form, is a zero sum game. If you win $100, everyone else at your table combined loses $100. On a global scale, if $130 million was won, then $130 million was lost. Driving outside the loop in Houston, you will pass countless illegal poker rooms. Every day, the winners and losers exit Houston highways to square off at the tables.
Why do they go?
That is the question that drove this art project. What is at the root of this cultural phenomenon? How does it mirror the art making process? Everybody, even the losers, (some would say especially the losers) has an agenda upon entering the card room, and receives some sort of gratification inside.