Judy Kay-Wolff

Egos, Incorporated

A curious title, for sure.   However, an ego is such a strong component in every day life and is prevalent in our all-encompassing world of bridge.  I have come to accept the fact that ego can be a positive factor and frequently serves a good purpose  — an incentive for betterment.   In fact, I think it is a major influence on one’s improvement not only in our every day existence but a driving force in achievement at the table.  From my experience, there are two types of egos — one that is modestly self contained and one that is flaunted.  I have witnessed both sides of the coin.  At the top of the ladder are those who have great track records and are content with their inner success, not having to prove anything to the world.  Others crave attention and the desperate need to be recognized and admired.  We have all met both sorts.

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum last night.  Bobby and I stopped off at the blackjack table (as we frequently do) to play a few hands before dinner.  We seated ourselves beside two individuals.  The featured player was a gentleman (?) on the far left with stacks and stacks of red chips (fives)  neatly arrayed before him in clear sight of all playing or passing by.  The other player was an older lady who had absolutely no clue.  The man offered advice (which for the most part was erroneous and unsolicited — but that stopped him not).   Bobby always says it is better to remain silent and thought a fool — than speak out and remove all doubt.  Eventually the lady (with little to show for her efforts) picked up her remaining few chips, leaving Bobby, me and the lesson giver.

It was not so much the fallacious, unsolicited advice which was so annoying, but his obvious pattern of self-admiration and his devastating need for attention    I believe he had a number of drinks and was just frothing at the mouth and deliberately talking to himself (muttering his choices).   It manifested itself in a manner I have never before seen — almost a ritual.   He would take his red chips and stack them in piles of ten (representing $50).  After each hand (win or lose), he arranged them methodically –  at one point having about twelve columns in plain view.  Now understand, we arrived before the show began and for all we know, he could have put up a thousand bucks and had not recouped his losses or could have started with the same amount and just be breaking even.   And, by the way, at this five dollar table he was betting randomly from fifteen to fifty dollars — and obviously not ‘counting’ — just showing off indiscriminately.   When the guy finally took a restroom break, the dealer told us that the pit boss kept suggesting he convert his ‘reds’ into greens ($25) or blacks ($100)  (as he had drained the dealer of small change)  –  but it was an obvious fetish to spread them in plain sight and leave them as they were.  His flashing effect was so exasperating to me (with Bobby paying him no mind) that I left the table, heading for the cashier, and Bobby followed.   However, by that time he was getting his comeuppance as his twelve stacks dwindled to two.   Justice had triumphed.  Universally, the world hates braggarts — and little wonder they do!


JoanieOctober 19th, 2013 at 3:59 pm

I would have reacted in similar fashion. Braggadocios get under my skin.

Judy Kay-WolffOctober 19th, 2013 at 4:14 pm

In my mind, particularly at the bridge table, I classify gloaters in the same domain. Most people will tell you that ‘they’ don’t know any better. I beg to differ. To me, ‘gloating’ (and any of its companions) belongs in the Zero Tolerance category. Manners are as important to me as talent. It is reminiscent of something my late husband Norman told me as a novice. “Let someone else tell you how good you are.” His advice still reverberates in my ears fifty years later.