Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Poker "Resume" - Part II (Our Hero Goes To College)

Three months after graduating from high school as a smart-assed 17-year-old who thought he had the world by the balls, I walked onto the Boston College campus as a freshman. It really only took about 18 hours for me to realize just how much fun college was going to be. I moved into my dormroom on Friday night the week before classes started. Earlier that summer I had purchased season tickets for football and the first home football game of the season was that Saturday. I had been "advised" by my senior advisor that I should get to the stadium at least three hours before the noon kickoff for the tailgating festivities. Taking his advice, I woke at the ungodly hour of 7:00 to shit, shower and shave before meeting up with a couple of the guys from my floor to go grab a bite to eat before heading down to the stadium. However, we never made it to the cafeteria. A group of alumni had parked a Suburban literally packed full of beer in the parking lot beside our building and had set up a grill right next to the door. As we walked outside, they yelled "Welcome to BC!!!" and handed each of us a six-pack of Natural Light and a sausage covered with perfectly prepared onions and peppers with spicy mustard. God I loved college. Wait . . . where was I? Oh yeah. Any time you have nearly 500 college kids living in the same building, you're going to find a group of guys playing poker. Within two months of moving into the building, we had a weekly game with six regular players and one or two others that joined in from time to time.

The games we played were virtually identical to those we played back in high school - anything that involved multiple wild cards, the chance to buy extra cards, or some wacky rule that cheats the best hand out of half the pot. However, the atmosphere of the game was completely different. Where the high school game was taken pretty serious and had become almost a job for some of us (which is kind of strange now that I look back on it), the college game was far more relaxed. We were not shy about drinking while we played and there was always a plentiful supply of beer.* The room was always loud as music blared and insults flew. In short everyone was there to have a good time and relax. There was certainly money on the table and we all fought hard to come out winner. As a general rule, there was only one player that lost on a regular basis (another wealthy kid that reminded me of a nicer and far more friendly version of some of the kids I went to high school with - great guy even if he was a bad poker player) with the rest of us splitting up his money each week. However the money was a rather small and unimportant part of the festivities and, to be perfectly honest, the right to brag for being that session's winner was far more valuable than the money.

* We actually made a rule freshman year that anyone who forgot to stock up when it was their turn to host the game would have been stripped naked, severely beaten and left ducktaped to the bulletin board in the front lobby. During our four years at school, the rule never had to be enforced as no one wanted to see how serious the group had been when the rule was announced.

As I did in the first installment of this little series of posts, I'll conclude by pointing out the lessons I learned at this stage in my poker career:

1. Unless you are a professional poker player and depend upon poker to feed your family and pay the bills, keep in mind that poker is a game and that it should be enjoyed as such.

2. It only takes one bad player at the table for a game to be profitable.

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