Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy

Hey Big Daddy,

I am a relatively junior staffer in the Capitol, still trying to make career
connections. My new boss has asked me to a poker game next week, and there
will be some big-wigs there–at least by my humble standards. The thing is, I
spent a couple years working part-time at a Tahoe-area casino (that’s not on
my resume, by the way) and I know my way around a deck of cards.
So do I try to impress them and take their shirts? Or do I know my place and
lose graciously–and intentionally?

– Ace in the Hole

Dear Ace-

Ah yes, that age-old question: Do you display your wares and risk hindering
your career, or do you swallow your pride and check your ego along with your
coat at the door in the hopes that doing so will move up the ladder
eventually?

Now, the world isn’t just littered with Johnnie Walker Red bottles, it’s
also awash in the wreckage of the careers of people who thought they were
moving forward by moving backwards. Even though you’re a junior staffer who
is obviously a little damp behind the ears, perhaps you’ve heard of these
two fellas-Willie Brown and John Burton. When I was serving as Speaker
(during a time when being Speaker actually meant something), I couldn’t get
those guys to shut up. At one point I put Brown into an office that
resembled a broom closet and he still wouldn’t shut up. If they were trying
to suck up to me to get ahead, they had a mighty unique way of doing it.

Now, you most certainly know what happened to those two guys, which is a
long way of saying, you gotta dance with the one who brung ya –and in this
case, that’s you.

If your boss and his “big-wig” friends are worth their weight in poker
chips, they’ll be able to spot a suck-up long before the first card hits the
felt. Besides, do you actually believe anyone is going to think you’re truly
senior staffer material because you stink at poker and would rather be
playing Old Maid or sitting around at home watching Jack Paar? Now, while I
don’t think you should “Awe, shucks” your way around the table and go home
with an empty wallet, I wouldn’t go all Nick “The Greek” Dandolos on this
crowd either.

If you want to succeed in the Capitol and in life, you need to size up the
competition and the opposition, then determine the best way to lick ’em. You
need a scalpel, not a sledgehammer, to be successful and poker is no
different. If you’re as smart as you sound–and as good as you say you
are–you don’t need to take anyone’s shirt or go home without yours. Instead,
size up the competition and figure out who you should be plucking some
collars and cuff links from and whose scotch accounts you should be
contributing to.

This advice comes from the “Do as I say, not as I do” file. If only Big
Daddy was this brilliant back in 1963 and had used that scalpel instead of
the sledgehammer of locking up the Republicans on the Assembly floor all
night without showing them the school finance bill, the world might be a
whole different place today. Just in case Big Daddy is wrong though, play it
safe and don’t hold a hand with aces and eights.


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