"I've often seen these people, these squares at the table, short stack and long odds against them. All their outs gone. One last card in the deck that can help them. I used to wonder how they could let themselves get into such bad shape, and how the hell they thought they could turn it around." - Mike McDermot, ‘Rounders’

I’ve loved poker ever since being swept up in the 2003-2006 boom when Texas hold‘em became all the rage. In the midst of it, my life-long best friend (who I’ve known since the age of four) and I built a professional-grade poker table from scratch. Fine felt, a leather handrail, the whole nine yards. It fit perfectly in his dimly-lit basement.

We started hosting a simple cash game—or at least it started that way.

It began with us playing on Friday nights but quickly became our whole weekend. Younger and with seemingly infinite energy, it somehow slipped into the rest of the week too.

All through each night, the ashtrays worked hard to keep up, and aside from quick runs to the fridge for drinks, there was never an empty seat. Pots and sides would occasionally grow massive, which was odd because none of us had any money back then. Of course, there’d end up being ‘bad beats’ and all kinds of trash talk, but honestly, up or down, it didn’t matter. That basement was our sanctuary.

We didn’t have many responsibilities or obligations back then, but we were all still in school. Inevitably, we began to either skip class or sleep right through it. I have no idea what lessons I missed. Does it matter? I undoubtedly learned more about myself and about life than I ever could have in a classroom. No textbook can ever replace sitting around a poker table, late at night, with close friends, making memories.

That kind of stuff is the real prize in life.

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Invested Thought's avatar
Great read. Love the Bezos quote!
Devin LaSarre's avatar
@investedthought Thanks IT. I appreciate it!