Thursday, September 5, 2019

The best job in the world

These days, I generally don’t complain about specific bad beats or periods of running bad: those are pointless activities best left to newbs. If I ever do find myself relapsing, I have any number of friends who will tell me to cop myself on. One common refrain is that a lot of them tell me I have the best job in the world, as I get to play cards for a living.

I haven’t been going to the WSOP for long enough to know anything other than the Rio as the venue. Popular wisdom is the owners plonked it there in the crown turd of their Vegas properties because it most needed the business. You won’t find very many people with too many good words to say for the place, including me.

For years, the Gold Coast, a cheaper and considerably more cheerful alternative located just across the road from the Rio, was a bit of a secret among the Irish. In recent years the secret that there’s a better place across the road, or at least better food options, has gotten out to other nationalities.

In the first few summers I trekked over to Vegas for the WSOP, the absolute highlight was the ice cream parlour located not far from the front entrance. The ice cream was unexpectedly good. I can’t say for certain it was the best in Vegas: I don’t have a large enough sample size to make that claim with any degree of credibility. What I can assure you is that I had never in my life tasted better ice cream up to that point.

I have no doubt that by any objective standard the ice cream was exceptional, but there may have been external factors at work that made it seem even better. It became a personal tradition that eventually extended to most of my friends that after every bracelet event bustout, the desolate walk of shame through the soulless Rio was followed by a walk across to the more cheerful Gold Coast for ice cream. Ice cream in that context is always going to taste a little better, serving as consolation.

The second bigger reason had everything to do with the server: a big happy kid called Eduardo. His English wasn’t great, but it didn’t need to be for you to understand that nothing gave Eduardo greater pleasure in the world than serving you ice cream. His face lit up as he scooped, his smile reaching a crescendo as he looked at the finished ice cream, made eye contact, and handed it over. It seemed he knew no greater pleasure than handing over something he knew would bring the recipient great pleasure.

A few years ago I walked across from the Rio to the Gold Coast only to discover to my horror that the ice cream place was no more. The venue of dozens of bust-out ice creams had been downgraded to another damn Subway. Eduardo was nowhere to be seen either: I like to think that he refused to settle for being someone who dispensed soulless sandwiches of mass production, and had gone in search of another ice cream parlour.

Even now every time I walk into the Gold Coast to the sights and smells of the Subway I feel a tinge of nostalgia and a smidgen of irk, a little more than the irk the line “But you have the best job in the world!” engenders in me when delivered by a non poker playing friend. I know for a fact that while I have a great job, one I wouldn’t swap for anything, I’m not the guy with the best job in the world, because I’ve met that guy, and his name was Eduardo.



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