In my twenties, long before my poker playing days, as I plotted what I thought would be a glorious corporate career, I spent a lot of time and energy carefully planning my career moves. Evaluating which ones would likely lead to better futures, and which ones might be dead ends. I got very good at this, and as the sun started to set on my twenties, I had a more extensive resume and wider technical skill set than most that age. I earned several multiples of what the average guy my age earned, and everything seemed to be in course.
As my thirties dawned, it eventually dawned on me that this wasn't really what I wanted. My dilettante nature meant I was not destined to have one unified career, but several shorter ones. As I reflected back on the different jobs and places I'd been, I realised that the things I remembered was not how much of a pay rise I got, or what new technical skills I garnered, but the places themselves and the people I shared them with, and the stories I shared with those people.
One might think that by their very nature poker players might take a more Ev centric view. We play a game in which the objective is to win other people's money. Professions don't come much more materialistic than that. And yet I find myself at the stage in my poker career where I am forced to accept that what lives in the memory is not the dollars or the tournaments won, but the places, the people and the stories. I don't think I'm alone in that. In fact, I'm convinced I am not. All the more so after my trip to Carlow last year for a tournament there.
I arrived in Carlow a bit before kickoff of the tournament. I wasn't alone: most of the pros who travelled from various parts of the country got there early too. Several had just returned from the Prague festival. With both David Lappin and Dan Wilson winning events there, you might think that would have been the main conversation point. But you'd be wrong: there was far more interest in the story surrounding another Irish pro's score of a different kind out there.
The pro in question, one of the most likeable on the scene here, is someone I've been lucky enough to be friends with since we both arrived almost simultaneously on the Irish poker scene over 7 years ago. To protect the (not) innocent, I'm not going to give his real name, so let's call him Gus.
While it would be unkind (not to mention inaccurate) to categorise Gus as a loser in love, it's fair to say that his many charms are often lost on the fairer sex and he's had more than his fair share of romantic bad beats. They say that God loves a trier though. Whether that's true or not, it seems a young lady Gus met in a night club did.
Several hours later, Gus woke up alone in his hotel room, and became immediately curious as to where his companion for the night had gone. Immediately fearing the worst, he stumbled around the room looking for his wallet and other valuables. Travelling Irish pros are notoriously bad at the "don't get robbed by the local hooker" game. Especially the variant where said local hooker poses as a normal girl you just met in a bar or club, feeds you a line about how much she loves the accent or smiling eyes, goes back to your hotel with you, and then when you've fallen asleep feeling all happy and loved, disappears into the night with your valuables.
So Gus was very pleasantly surprised to find not only his wallet but everything else he had of value. He was a little more puzzled to find that his departed companion had also left her all her clothes behind. He climbed back into bed and continued to puzzle over why she would have chosen to leave her clothes behind when she departed.
His internal musings on the matter continued until the phone suddenly rang. It was a slightly bewildered and somewhat suspicious desk clerk. Proceeding cautiously, he told Gus that there was a naked young lady at reception who claimed to be the guest of an Irish poker player. She didn't even know the name of this person of whom she claimed to be a guest. But the description matched Gus, and his status as the only Irish person staying in the hotel was the clincher.
Gus made his way down to vouch for his guest. The elevator ride back up was socially awkward. Nothing in his past had prepared Gus for the social conventions that might apply here, and the girl for her part suffered in silence. However, when they got back into the room, things changed. She started accusing him of having spiked her drink, claiming that she was not the kind of girl who would make a habit of nude sleepwalking otherwise.
Gus was still unsure of the social conventions that should govern an appropriate response. The absurdity of the situation overwhelmed him suddenly, and a more primitive instinct took over. The instinct to laugh. He started laughing. The more he laughed, the angrier she became. The angrier she became, the more he couldn't stop laughing. This feedback loop was eventually broken when the girl wisely concluded there was nothing to be gained from berating this laughing Irish fool, quickly rerobed herself and departed into the night with her lowered opinion of poker players and Irish people.