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Man of Faith

Man of Faith by Edwin Osorio, translated from the Spanish

He left with his faith renewed. The rite was completed and his vision of paradise had recovered its former lustre. He was convinced that his devotion and the systematic randomness that he developed with each action would make him one of the elect to spread the word.

Federico Benavides had transformed his life to a point where it bore no resemblance to his old one.

He abandoned all habits, succeeded in eliminating routine with a striking variation ins his daily practices. If one day his breakfast consisted of fruits, the next day he consumed meat and the day after he could forget breakfast altogether.

Even his toilet duties were conducted the required lack of regularity. His neighbours saw him dishevelled, dirty and wearing rags, when you last saw him scented, slick and fragrant. Sometimes he was a beggar and at others a dandy.

Sometimes his presence was as noticeable as a crocodile would be in the streets of New York and at other times he went as unnoticed as lying in the mouth of a politician.

However, it was not always so; Federico Benavides was abdicating reason after a lifetime devoted to its consecration. He was a man of heavy build, maybe a little chubby, a little shorter than the average, hair thinning now for some time. His life was offered to the god of numbers and once he had obtained a considerable sum of capital, he invested in the most secure place, as corroborated by its upward trends of recent years: real estate.

They say that politics is dynamic, but the economy is dynamite. Federico Benavides had invested in the property market just before the housing bubble burst, and it was not long before he found himself unable to pay his mortgages. His meeting with misfortune was so sudden that it plunged him into despair; he went through a long period of depression and then, as if he were a new man, changed his perspective and his approach to life.

The change, it must be said, was influenced by his friend Enoch, an orthodox man, who fulfils Biblical precepts (including those provisions that contradict each other). Enoch was the only friend compassionate enough to welcome him into his home. During the trips he made with Enoch, Benavides sporadically raised his head to look at the casino, although almost immediately was felled by the blunt verdict of his colleague.

 

“Nothing good can be expected from these houses of perdition. How can we rely on chance when it is clear that our designs are dictated by God?”

Federico recalled the phrase: “God does not play dice with the universe”, attributed to Albert Einstein, but also recalled the context, and the refusal of the German physicist to accept the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics, which can be exemplified by the parable known as “Schrödinger’s Cat”, which tells us that if a cat is locked in a box with a mechanism inside that has a 50% chance of killing it, if we cannot open the box to find out the status of the animal, it is considered that the cat is both alive and dead.

The thought was an epiphany: he, Federico Benavides, would represent the uncertainty principle, and to do so he would have both to be and to not be.

Thus began his crusade into the unknown, with doubt his armour and suspicion his compass. His field of combat was where a small share of luck converges with a high share of skill: the game of poker. His messianic strategy transformed his lifestyle. For before starting his foray to the Holy Land, he had to purify himself. He had to be unpredictable to others, have unreadable eyes, indecipherable even to those who knew him the best, like himself.

He went to the casino with a fixed belief that contrasted with the decision’s variables. During his confrontations he observed his rivals thoroughly, to the point of paying little or no attention to his cards. He repeatedly dismissed hands that a gambler would seize, simply on the grounds that his opponent had changed his style of play, which clearly pointed out a trick which would lead to his ruin.

His several victories were even greater than his defeats. People who knew him did not believe he was capable of calculating such bold decisions. His friend Enoch, who had taken him into his house with such an affable disposition, did not hesitate to ask him to go practise his vices away from his wife and children.

However, Benavides’s aspirations went beyond gambling and betting. Being a man of numbers, he knew that 90% of people believed that they were part of the lucky 10% of individuals that win more than the casinos.

There is a less risky way to make money with poker: teaching others to make money with poker. He would write a book with the keys of success to this ancient card game, but to do so he would have to make sufficient progress in the World Series of Poker, to be held next week.

He left with his faith renewed. The rite was completed and his vision of paradise had recovered its former lustre. He was convinced that his devotion and the systematic randomness that he developed with each action would make him one of the elect to spread the word.


Image Albert Einstein Imagination

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