May 28th, 2013
My last days in Monte Carlo were mostly spent fielding the question “Where are you playing SCOOP?” The question is never “Are you playing SCOOP?” or “Do you think you’ll play SCOOP this year?” or “Do you have anything else going on in your life that would cause you to choose not to spend the next two weeks playing online poker?” because there are some times in poker that are just assumed that you’re going to participate–everyone does. The question becomes as common as “What did you have for dinner?” Although it was a controversial decision, I decided to forgo SCOOP in favor of returning to the United States where my next few weeks would be packed with reunions–first with my fiancée and puppies, then with my high school friends at a wedding in upstate New York, next with law school friends in New Orleans, then with my best friend from college at her wedding in Connecticut.
Greg was one of my best friends in high school. We’ve remained in some contact over the years, but find it hard to see each other as much as we’d like to. He got married at a beautiful camp on a lake in the Adirondack State Park in upstate New York. The weather was perfect–bright blue skies, fluffy white clouds, and temperatures in the low seventies. Greg’s wedding was an homage to summers spent at camp (a requirement for Jewish kids), replete with tug of war, s’more-filled times spent around the bonfire, and all sorts of sports and competitions. It was my heaven. I got to spend time with people from high school I hadn’t seen in ages, and it was touching to see Greg in his element, completely graceful in handling a big crowd of people, being the funny and gregarious host. It reminded me of why I love him so much. As we closed out the wedding reception, my high school nerd-clique/mock trial team and I, holding hands and dancing crazy to The Proclaimers’ “I Would Walk 500 Miles,” I couldn’t help but feel blessed to have had the opportunity to reunite with these amazing people.
Then I flew to New Orleans for a reunion with a different group of people. Each year since they graduated (all one of them so far), my law school friends have gotten together in some remote location. Our respective jobs have spread us far and wide, but someone from the group always offers to host and plan something for the rest of us. I missed last year’s reunion in Billings, Montana because of the start of the WSOP, but vowed to make it this year (it also fortuitously coincides with the WSOP National Championship). My closest friends from law school are a rhyming couple–Beth and Seth–and they both work public interest law jobs in New Orleans. People flew in from all over for a swamp tour, beignets, and fried oysters. I always have a blast with this group. I’m inspired and amazed by their commitment to working for social justice and their beer pong prowess. They remind me of a time when everyone you wanted to see was only as far away as a short walk to the law school cafeteria.
After that, it’s another camp wedding (what are the chances?) for my friend Erin and her partner Laura, and then Vegas to start the summer and the Series off right. Ironically, the World Series of Poker has become my very own adult summer camp. There’s comfort in the ritual and excitement in the routine. When I throw open the door to the Rio and enter the arctic freeze of the Amazon room, when I hear chips shuffling from a hundred yards away, when I walk down the hallway and see the familiar faces of friends–I’m home.
I may have skipped SCOOP, but soon I’ll be ready to return to poker, refreshed and relaxed. I’m coming off of a deep run in the EPT Grand Final High Roller, where I got fourth. Making such a deep run and busting out third or fourth always makes me hungry for the next one, so I’ll be in bracelet-hunting mode from the get-go. In between bracelets, though, there will be time for camp fun: bowling prop bets, 4th of July barbeques, late nights spent talking, and plenty of games. I can’t wait!
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