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Ep. 7: ‘I’m not going to just lay down’

The following is an excerpt from the script to Episode 7. Click on the embed above to listen to the full episode, or you can subscribe to Razed Sports on your favorite podcast app.


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Baseball is often referred to as America’s pastime, but that title could just as easily be applied to another activity — the card game poker. Like baseball, poker might have its roots in games from other countries, but poker as we know it today is generally considered an American invention, dating back to the early 19th century. And over the years it’s become stamped into the fabric of American culture — in music, in literature and particularly in films — dramatized as sort of a proxy battle between good and evil, from the saloons of the old west to the underground clubs of New York City …


That’s a pretty dramatic line from Matt Damon, in the 1998 movie “Rounders” — now watch, next time you’re sitting at your friendly home game, you’ll be looking around to make sure you’re not the sucker. But while poker is a game that lends itself to being romanticized in this way, it’s really, to those who are truly devoted to it, a job. That’s the way it is for Cole Uvila.

COLE: “The amount of money that I’ve made in poker is, I think as of the last time I played, I think it’s right around $89,000 since like the last two and a half years playing. Partially playing full time. I guess it would be closer to 3 1/2 years now.”


Yes, as you can see, Cole takes poker seriously. In fact, to this point, playing cards has actually been more lucrative for him than minor league baseball. Remember that as a 40th round draft pick, Cole signed for just $1,000 – which amounted to a little more than $700 after taxes – and he makes only about $1,300 a month on his minor league salary, and even that is only during the season itself. This part of it is not terribly unusual. Unless a minor league baseball player gets a big signing bonus, he’s going to have another job to make ends meet. The unusual part, is when it comes to Cole, that other job is poker.

COLE: “Just kind of caught on there and found a love for that, a passion for that I would say is equal to baseball. I mean it’s something that I’ve put, now, thousands of hours into.”

Cole Not going to just lay down.pngCole Not going to just lay down.png


Poker is similar to baseball in a lot of ways. One of the bigger similarities is the swings, the bad breaks, the luck.

The variance.

Variance is a math concept. For our purposes here, we won’t get too deep into it, but variance is a way of looking at all of the possible outcomes of a particular play and calculating and understanding the odds of different results occurring. If you understand the variance, you understand that sometimes, even though a certain play should be favorable to you, there is a chance that the result will not go your way. This is true in both poker and baseball. Sometimes, pocket kings beats pocket aces. Sometimes, that slow ground ball finds a way to sneak through the infield.  This is variance.

COLE: “People I think miss, in baseball it happens all the time that people in the poker world really understand, and that’s the concept of variance. Variance in poker is math, like I said is like the 80 percent/20 percent thing. Variance in baseball is a three-hopper right at a shortstop is an out, and a three-hopper, let’s say 10 feet left of the shortstop is a single. Essentially you’re hitting the ball exactly the same except for maybe like five degrees different off the barrel results in a single, and results in an out the other times.”

In Episode 6, we covered an outing Cole had on June 25, against the Carolina Mudcats. Everything went wrong. There was a full swing bunt for a single. And there was a routine grounder that hit the third base bag and bounced over the third baseman’s head for another hit. Cole’s understanding of variance, which came from his poker playing, helped him keep his cool after that game.

COLE: “And you know it’s stuff like that where you’ll go out maybe pitching, and you’ll give up like three or four, like the Carolina outing that I had with the four earned runs. Was I my sharpest? No, but variance definitely was not in my favor. It’s something that I can just easily live with from my poker background. It’s no different. It’s like, maybe I go to the poker room and I get aces in vs. kings but there’s a king on the flop and I lose a $1,000-pot because of it. I can go home and just know that ‘yeah I got it in good it just wasn’t going my way today. Variance wasn’t on my side.’ Same thing as the Carolina outing on the 25th of June. Four earned runs but never really got hit too hard and just a little bit unlucky and the ball wasn’t bouncing my way. That’s variance.”

*** *** ***


Written and produced by Bob Harkins.


Theme song: “Rip My Jeans” —

Broke For Free — “A Year

Kevin MacLeod — “Faster Does It”, “Backed Vibes Clean”, “Vibe Ace

(All music edited for time purposes)


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