Sunday, June 5, 2011

San Antonio Boys

My cash game consists of a revolving door of bankers, dentists, politicians, car salesmen, mortgage brokers, real estate agents, a news anchor, an angel investor, and two or three boys whose occupations I can't yet pinpoint. Because the guys who run the game are in the car business, I *think* these outliers are mechanics, but I'm not sure. They are cagey and cautious, but wearily eagle-eyed in their approach.  I try to avoid them in pots because I know they're there for the same reason I am - to take the big boys' money.  Sometimes they're lucky.  More often, they're not.  Away from the table, thinking about hands, I wonder if these maybe-mechanics trade gibes on break in the garage with the salesmen about the salesman's sloppy call that got there on the river.

These "boys" are not boys at all. They're men, with families and businesses and lives away from the table, but in each heart dwells the soul of a gambler with a dream of being the next Doyle Brunson or the new Phil Ivey. We've all got a long way to go before we get there. But we dream.

And we play.

And as we play, I learn about their lives. Their businesses and hunting trips, the upcoming plans for Vegas. And about their children...and their wives.

Two beautiful boys, with gorgeous eyes, the close-cropped hair reminiscent of days in the Aggie corps of cadets, chiseled faces and strong hands. And in those eyes, as they drink and study their hands, throw chips and talk, I see their anguish and it makes me so sad. I don't know why their marriages are breaking up. I don't know what they were like at home, whether they weren't available or whether they ran around. But what I do know is that they're not running around tonight because they're here with me. At this table, with seven other boys. Shuffling chips and counting cards, absentmindedly looking at the fight on TV ever so often as the button continues its never ending rotation around the table.

I don't know what they do on those nights we don't play, but nothing I've heard indicates nights of debauchery and skirt chasing. Instead, I hear about business deals and upcoming tournaments and occasionally the hurt comes out, "After 18 years, man...I don't know...I don't know if she was cheating, but she got so damn caught up on the FaceBook, that she never had time for me any more."

I wonder if she felt that way about his poker.

I can't speak for all games (and I'm not talking about guys who are spending money they and their families can't afford to lose), but I think if more wives understood what most poker nights often actually consist of, they wouldn't begrudge their men the opportunity to live out their dreams for a few hours each week.

I hate the thought of families breaking up, especially when there are children involved. These stories come out, deal after deal, pot after pot. And I'm fascinated. If there's anything to be thankful for after Black Friday, for me anyway, it's this live poker game. And these brief moments of human interaction, at its best...and sometimes at its worst.

Being, as I am, a native-Texan, I do have a soft, sweet spot for Texas boys. The best I know are in my own family. After finding this game, I have to say, there's nothing like a San Antonio boy. And if you've got one, you should hold on tight.


  1. You are so good at writing. I felt like I was there...

  2. Great post! I'm an East Coast guy but my daughter lives in Houston and some of my best Air Force memories are from San Antonio (Lackland and Kelly)... I absolutely love Texas!

  3. This is such a good story. I love the way you tell a good story. Such a talent you have.

  4. @Terry - thank you chica! Those boys were just really on my heart as I was writing that.

    @gr8fulmouse - awesome! I love Texas, too. Houston is *almost* a country all its own. =)

    @Anon - thanks very much! Is this my mom?


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