(Las Vegas, NV)) I walked into the Rio’s Amazon Ballroom last night to re-visit what doubles as my office for the next three weeks.
“Welcome to The Suck,” Owen said. “And congratulations on the new baby.”
The many people I saw last night have been here for the past four weeks. They have the thousand-yard stare poker writers get after a long World Series of Poker stretch. Nearly every one of them welcomed me to hell or some variation on the theme.
It’s a familiar world full of friendly people. I spent more than an hour just catching up with people I haven’t seen in months. Most of them recognized me on sight and said if there is any difference in the way I look from last time, it’s that I’m a little more tan. I would have preferred to have been better looking.
I made a pass through the cash game section. I spotted CK sitting in front of a pile of redbirds and playing some game of witchcraft with Warren Karp and a few other people I didn’t know. I waited until she was out of a hand, then said hello.
She looked up, smiled the smile of a person who is just being friendly to an annoying stranger, and then looked back at the table. I stood there for a second and she realized I wasn’t going away. She looked up as if to say, “What? Really, what the hell do you want?” It took another couple of seconds before she realized who I was. I didn’t blame her. I’m your average, balding, beer-gutted white boy. I barely recognize myself on most days.
It would not have been significant but for a moment later that night.
I sat down at a poker table and played for an hour or so against an African man named G. I busted him within five minutes and he went for a walk. He came back ten minutes later with $500 and sat down on my left. A few minutes later he said, “I know you.”
“Probably not. I’m not from here,” I said.
“No, I know you. Last year. I had two pair. You took all my money,” he said. “I remember you.”
He then recounted the hand card by card, the time of night, and even where we were sitting. By the time he was finished, it was like I’d just read an account out of my poker diary. I finally recalled the hand and remembered it like it was last week.
It’s funny, you know? Beat downs tend to stick with people longer than most things.
I expect most of the poker writers here will remember this summer for some time.