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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Children's Day

Re-printed from my day job blog

The World Series of Poker is an environment like none other I've ever witnessed. Pure energy, mainline adrenaline, wanton rain squalls of hundred dollar bills that sometimes--quite literally--rain down from the hands of chair-perched gamblers. At any given time, two thousand people are wagering for millions in chips. Cocktail servers run with tired legs. Dealers hallucinate. And in the middle of it--almost every day--a life's dream is realized for one person in the form of a World Series of Poker bracelet.

It is, without a doubt, a warehouse of mixed energy that one must live for several weeks to truly believe it exists. When the only sun you see rises through tinted, tempered glass, it is quite easy to forget that a real world exists outside the Rio.

But it does.

I learned today that a valued PokerStars player (name witheld for the sake of privacy) who won a seat to the World Series of Poker will not be sitting in his chair come Day 1. He and his wife recently welcomed twin babies into the world. One of the children is quite healthy. The other twin is not faring as well. Our player is understandably staying home.

I spoke to my wife today. She is tending to our ten-month-old baby boy while I'm on the road at the WSOP. When I was a kid, my parents (having enjoyed Mother's Day in May and Father's Day in June) always celebrated a made-up Children's Day in conjunction with Independence Day. Today, my wife and parents took my son to his first fireworks show and gave him his first taste of summer watermelon. When my wife and I said goodbye, I couldn't help but be a little sad at having missed the day.

But then I heard about our player who is sitting at home tonight, willing and praying his baby to good health. The WSOP, I'm sure, was once at the top of his list of things to do. Now, I'm sure, it's all but forgotten.

Perspective comes in many forms, folks. A walk in the sun after having been inside for a week. A phone call home after a few weeks on the road. The realization that life is about much more than the click-clack of chips and winning a gold bracelet.

To be sure, what we're witnessing here at the World Series is poker history in its purest form. To be sure, the hundreds of PokerStars qualifiers are set to experience one of the best events of their lives. And to be sure, everyone should come here with the intention of winning and having a good time.

But, try to keep it all in perspective. This is all supposed to be fun. Remember, if you're one of the 1116 qualifiers, or the family member sitting at home waiting for good news, that one of your fellow PokerStars players won't be making it this year.

If you're the praying type, say a prayer. If you're not, perhaps just think a few good thoughts, hug someone you love, and keep it all in perspective.

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