Read ‘Em and Weep

In an effort to make myself a better, more interesting person, I’ve been trying to spend a good portion of my summer catching up on some of the reading I have meant to do all year. You know – the books that EVERYONE is talking about, but for some reason you just haven’t found time to pick up yet.
Well, finally I went out and bought the book that’s been sweeping the country, Play Poker Like the Pros by seven-time winner of the World Series of Poker, Phil Hellmuth, Jr. I know, I know – most people cannot believe it when I tell them that I haven’t read it yet, but hey, better late than never, I always say.
I’m only about a third of the way through, but I have to say, it’s every bit as good as Oprah said it would be. I’m so glad that her book club started reading the classics, otherwise I may never have even heard of Hellmuth’s masterpiece.
I really have my friend Seamus* to thank for turning me on to poker. Texas Hold ‘Em poker, to be exact. Most people, especially those with cable, are now familiar with this popular and exciting card game. It combines the best of the entire gaming world: intense drama, high stakes, clever nicknames, and dark sunglasses. Every few weeks, Seamus gathers together a group of friends and hosts a poker tournament. Somehow, I’ve actually won a few times, which is really a blessing since my cats and I have grown accustomed to a steady diet of Fancy Feast.
My small-scale success at poker got me thinking: do I really need to go back to a nine-to-five, “yessir/no ma’am” kind of job? Is it possible that there’s a better career waiting for me in Reno, NV? I mean, let’s face it – if Ben Affleck can win $360,000 in one game of Texas Hold ‘Em, then surely, with a bit more practice, I should be able to earn enough during the course of the year to keep me sitting pretty in lattes and Steve Maddens.
My parents were surprisingly understanding when I casually mentioned my latest career aspiration to them a few weeks ago. Of course, these are also the same people who said they would totally support me if I decided to quit my job without another job lined up. If only I had understood that their definition of “support” meant emotional, not financial, before I kicked over my desk, deleted the entire company database, and yelled, “Take this job and shove it!” on my way out of the office. A word of advice: it’s best to actually cross the bridge before you burn it to the ground. 
So anyway, back to my career in poker. It’s pretty much a male-dominated scene, so I was really happy when my friend Natasha* decided to start playing as well. We feel that higher levels of estrogen in the room throw off the males’ bluffing ability. It also helps that Natasha and I occasionally slip Benadryl into their drinks.
Last weekend, before we went over to play poker, Natasha and I thought we’d stray from the poker standard of beer by bringing over a bottle of scotch. We talked a lot about what type of liquor would make us stand out from the crowd, seem sophisticated yet carefree, approachable yet mysterious. As we wandered through the dusty aisles of the corner liquor store, I was struck by a phrase that has since become my mantra: scotch is for winners. I felt it as soon as I met Johnny Walker Black, and I still believe this to be true. After I won everyone’s money, however, the men came up with a new mantra for me: scotch is for really annoying unemployed tap dancers who are graced with obscene beginner’s luck.
You say tomayto, I say tomahto.
Beginner’s luck or not, I feel I at least need to give the professional poker circuit a fair chance before I truly rule it out and recommit myself to a life of blue cubicles and Excel spreadsheets. With that in mind, I will not be posting any updates this week Friday through Sunday, as I am hopping a charter to Atlantic City for the weekend. Wish me luck, and keep your eyes out for me on the World Series of Poker, airing Sunday nights on the Travel Channel!
*Please note: all names, possibly even mine, have been changed to protect the innocent. I am also trying to avoid a potential lawsuit once I start discussing the seedier aspects of my life. The Seamus and Natasha to whom I make reference in this entry are not, in fact, my actual friends Seamus and Natasha. These are different people whose names don’t even start with those letters. My real friends Seamus and Natasha will now be known as Lyle and Annabeth. If, in the future, I meet people named Lyle and Annabeth and they’re interesting enough to make it into my blog, I shall call them Humperdink and Buttercup.

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