Chances are, this collablog is going to get confusing, with the three chief contributors all getting back from a road trip at the same time. I'll do my best to ease the confusion by listing previous posts at the top of mine.
I shuffled through the remaining bills in my pocket. Four days before, the roll had been big enough to draw attention. It was a bulge in my pants where, sadly, none had been before. Now, tired and hungover at McCarran, the bulge was gone and I returned to a familiar state of emasuclation and self-loathing. Wharfing down a bad chicken sandwich in the Prickly Pear with The Mark and Gamecock, I knew that this was not the kind of loathing Hunter Thompson had described. His loathing was one of a scene, a society, a moral culture worthy of scorn. My loathing was internal and brought upon myself. Behind me was a debaucherous weeked of revelry and wanton disregard for cash. Perhaps, I thought, that was what the weekend was supposed to be about in the first place. Still, Gamecock and The Mark had bulges where I had the last fluttering of a few hundred bucks.
Upgraded to First Class for the plane ride home, I settled back into the seat and fell into the restless sleep of a man who fancied himself as a gambler, a degenerate, and a card player. In unmemorable dreams, I realized that I was none of the above.
As the holidays wound through big meals and big love, I found the embarassment of my trip waning. Like all true addicts, once the hangover is gone, the bad memories fade. Within weeks, even if I had not fully recovered from the slight shame of my drunken idiocy, I had recovered my card playing spirit. Back in the game, if only virtually, I found myself eying a bigger game than I'd ever played. It had not been a month since I had said matter-of-factly to my wife, "There is no reason for me to play bigger than $30/$60. The game is good. The game is profitable. And I can mange the losses."
In the past few years, the desire to, as they say, "take a shot," has hit me at odd times. The jump to $30/$60 hit me in a London hotel room in May. Boredom and insomnia struck at the right time. Within a couple hours I had made twice what I could in a good session at $15/$30 in half the time. The same thing had happened when I hopped--inexplicably--to $10/$20 the year before. During the annual November Slide in 2005, I had briefly toyed with he $50/$100 game, but ran away scared after dropping half a buy-in in about half an hour. A month later, without explanation, I sat down at 5pm and entered a $50/$100 game. I wouldn't quit for ten hours.
When the game was over, I looked back at the win-rate and knew I could never duplicate the session. It was beyond any expecatation I could ever hope for. Six sigmas out didn't begin to describe it. I extrapolated the win rate to a year's worth of play and laughed out loud at myself.
When I woke up a few hours later, I checked my e-mail and discovered that Expedia had given me a $150 coupon. It was like a hot and cold front coming together over Kansas. The high of the previous night's win collided with the memory of an embarassing stint of live play just a few weeks earlier. In my heart, I fancied myself a card player who could make a living at the game. But good sense told me that stellar online play doesn't always translate to live play.
As I sat on the couch, I wondered why I bothered worrying about it. Online play would almost always be more profitable than online play, but the money itself really had never been an issue. With the exception of a couple small withdrawals to fund Vegas trips and a European cash bankroll, I have never taken any significant cash out of my online bankroll, nor did I have any plans to. Don't ask me why, because it's something I have yet to fully understand. Still, with such profit to be made sitting on my couch, I wondered why I was entertaining an idea that hit me the moment I saw the Expedia e-mail.
I knew the answer all along. The profit is not monetary. It's ego. It's self-esteem. It's the Id, the Ego, and the Super Ego in a manage a trois of 70s porn industry proportions.
In short, it's the romantic notion of being a card player. For better or worse, it's something that will rarely admit out loud, but have come to accept during quiet nights by myself.
I don't want to be a mouse jockey. I want to be a card player.
* * *
I've never put much stock in the concept of a collective conscious. Generallly, there are Idea Men (or Women) and there are the followers. I've been and have enjoyed being both. When the Expedia e-mail hit the inbox, the idea was too strong to ignore. Tunica would be rocking for the entire month of January. I had a basically free plane ticket to what would be a live poker Mecca. Still, my fears were two-fold. First, I didn't want anyone to know about my plans, because failure in Mecca would surely result in a lower self-esteem and future worries about my abiity to compete in a live forum. Second, I didn't know if I had the stones to head into a fray of true rounders.
And yet, I had almost made the decision. I was going to go to Tunica by myself and tell no one but my wife. Regardless of the outcome, I vowed I would tell the truth in my writing. I would telll the stories, bad and good, and then would re-evaluate whether I had any chance of being a live card player. With the decision 99% made, I settled back and started looking for plane tickets with no thoughts of collective conscious or seeing anyone I really knew in Tunica.
Within two days, I'd spoken to both Iggy and CJ. At seperate times, they said the exact same thing without any prompting from me.
"I'm thinking about going to Tuinca."
And that's how this past weekend began.