Last week I celebrated my 40th birthday. As is customary at such landmarks, I stopped to take stock of my life. And I saw that it was good. I got some awesome gifts, including a cooking class from Janeen and WHITE CASTLE SCENTED CANDLES from my kids. Yes, WHITE CASTLE SCENTED CANDLES, THEY SMELL LIKE WHITE CASTE, OMG. I also got to eat a great meal, surrounded by my family, at Peter Luger’s. Mmmmm…
My transition from pro grinder to daddy/shyster is more or less complete. I’m comfortable at my job and with fatherhood. I’m actually intermittently enjoying the lawyering, and of course I’m endlessly amused and intrigued by my children.
Ivy is now quite the miniature human. She has shed much of her shyness and has entered the “randomly pepper all in my vicinity with batteries of questions” phase of her existence. Strangers seem to find her genuinely endearing. As for Max, I wanna get inside his head badly. He storms around in what appears to be a quixotic adventure and has a surprising vocabulary, always delivered in triumphant one-word blasts.
I still play plenty of poker (hooray for private practice). I pick my spots, showing up at the tournaments with the juiciest prize pools, or simply on random days where my work schedule is light. I make it to maybe three or four tournaments a month. This is drastically fewer than I played as a pro, but I still manage to elicit the same “you sure play a lot for a retired guy” comments on each trip I make. I suppose that’s good; I’m still plugged in.
The day after my birthday happened to be an easy day to get away, so I drove down the New Jersey Turnpike to the racino in Chester, Pennsylvania to try my luck in a WSOP Circuit Event. To say that this particular casino is a depressing place is probably redundant–when you read “racino in Chester, Pennsylvania” in the last sentence, you probably had already conjured the appropriate imagery.
Anyway, I sat down to play at noon and busted the $365 six-max event by 2:00 p.m. Bummer. I was vaguely aware that a second event was scheduled for 5:00 p.m–a semi-turbo which was also a ring event. “Ring event,” in this context, means two things: (a) that the official WSOPC winner’s merchandise, which includes a ring, would be presented to the winner; and (b) that the results would be tabulated as part of the WSOP’s points system for determining who would be entitled to play in their yearly $10,000 freeroll. This points system is a rather ingenious marketing tool and is probably the primary reason that over 200 people showed up to play poker in Chester, Pennsylvania last Wednesday.
Since I wanted to spend more time playing poker than driving that day, I decided to stay for the aforementioned 5:00 p.m. semi-turbo ring event. I passed the time by sitting in a 1-2 NL game, running hot and departing the cash game room with an extra $500 in my pocket. I ran hotter yet in the tournament, a one-day $365 buy in that drew 160 players. By midnight we were in the money. Some time later, we were at the final table, and I was nicely positioned in the middle of the pack. The run good continued further, and as the field thinned down to four, I held a big chip lead.
At that point I began to give serious consideration to actually winning the tournament. It occurred to me that I really wanted a WSOP Circuit ring–certainly more than I wanted the paltry $13k first place cash prize.
Yep, I sure coveted that ring. Not because I wanted to wear it (it’s hideous). Not for the uniqueness of the accomplishment (there are easily over a thousand in circulation). And not so I could pawn it (I’m appraising it at $29.99).
I wanted the ring because having it would fill a hole in my poker resume. Most of my closest pro poker cohorts have at least one WSOPC ring; it’s not really a big deal to win one. Traveling the pro tournament trail for six years and not winning a WSOPC ring is something like working at McDonald’s for six years and never being named employee of the month. My lack of a WSOPC ring was actually noteworthy to me, and potentially others, on some level. I had some near misses, but had never closed the deal on a ring. Now I had my chance.
I cruised into heads-up with a two to one chip lead. Things went south from there, and at one point I was outchipped six to one, a desperate-withering-(overused poker term alert!)-shoving-every-hand-kind-of-character. As luck would have it, I scratched my way back and ended up winning a flip on the final hand, QJ > 1010. Jack of justice, right in the window. I got my ring.
As I said earlier, the ring is unwearable by normal humans. However, It does make a nice tail accessory for Ruthie (she’s the talk of the neighborhood!) and Elmo’s been rocking it on his left forearm. Gives him some tough-guy appeal.
For those of you keeping score at home (you totally know that you are), I have a week in Vegas booked for the start of the WSOP. Then back to business, then back out West for the WSOP Main.