Last night I was playing in a 6 handed SNG with another player. He was rather amicable and said rather nice things about my play (perhaps he was shining me on, trying to lull me into some sort of screw-up, but that's a rather cynical assumption. In this case, I don't suspect it's true). He asked me if I thought I could beat the pros.
This is the same guy who was in a chat-window war with another player earlier on. At one point, he challenged that guy to a heads-up match after the SNG was done. I don't know if they ever did, but though I didn't say anything at the time, my first thought was this: Why bother? What would either of you learn from that? The winner will feel vindicated, and the loser will just blame the vagueries of the cards.
Before I read the Zen book, I thought if I practiced and learned to play well that someday I could challenge Crispin to a match. Now I know that that would be pointless. For one thing, since he's watched my play much more than I've watched his (including getting into my head), he'd also have a pretty significant advantage. But beyond that, would beating him once or twice mean that I'm better than him? Certainly not.
So how do you rank poker players? The better question is, "why do you wish to?" Is one bull rider better than another if he lasts longer on a bull with a lame leg than the other on a bull with sound legs? Poker is an individualistic activity. Why does it matter that there are others right now winning or losing more than you. Just play the game.