Monday, March 20, 2006

Just Not Today

The carpet is cool but warming up after laying here for almost an hour. On the far wall, a nightlight with a miniature baseball jersey showing a generic number 29 casts a faint glow over a wooden bat hat rack holding three caps and proclaiming the owner’s name carved out in blue letters. The homemade collage above me of baseball cards featuring Twins players from the 1991 World Championship team shows Kirby Puckett connecting on another pitch outside of the strike zone. I can smell the Scooby Doo shampoo emitting from the top of his head from his bath that resembled more splashing than an Olympic 50 meter freestyle race. A soft murmur of content, mixed in with an occasional snore lets me know that my son is finally going to sleep…

Until I try to move.

I fired up my poker trophy at 7:30 to play on Paradise’s software and get used to the controls once again as it has been a while since I’ve ordered the virtual Rum and Coke to sit on the stand next to my avatar. Almost 70 WPBT hopefuls were signed up, this is looking like fun I thought to myself, until I saw who I was seated with. Otis took up the seat that would be picking on my blinds for the reminder of the night. A thin, beautiful actress from My So Called Life, a three-times confirmed middle manager of a video rental store, some guy who plays high stakes cash games and goes on trips (heavy use of internet sarcasm used here), a copper welding specialist who finds time to beat the 15/30 game online, and a studly cock who plays Stud. At least I’ll grab some note worthy one-liners.

He pleaded to return to the couch to watch Clifford the Big Red Dog and Sagwa. He kicked and screamed as his demands were met with more “no’s” then a horny high school guy trying to score with a Mormon chick at prom. “Would you like something to drink?” “Would you like something to eat?” “How about we read a book?” “Daddy will be right outside the door” “Octopus, Lizard, and Fish are sleeping, can you sleep with them?”. His reply was the same: “I WANNA GO UP ON THE COUCH!!!”

I receive KK on my 2nd or 3rd hand and before I can be super-cool and bet some extravagant amount, the cards whoosh away like my chips did in the cash games earlier in the day. Getting KK cracked seven times in 2-3 hours does a little damage to your perception that it’s a strong hand pre-flop. I complain of course which is met by equally absurd reactions. I thank everyone for that, because without your constant ribbing I would have given up this rat race game long ago. I chip up without showing down my cards even once to about T4000 at the first break.

The cries become louder and most certainly have woken up the pregnant one upstairs. Reminders of this to the toddler do nothing as he pleads his case like a guilty drunk driver in front of a jury with a half-drunken fifth of Mad Dog 20/20 in his front pocket. Tears are shed, multiple flips from his train-shaped toddler bed are done as he tries to run for the door. I have stopped with the negotiations and resigned to just holding him which placates his need to cry.

After the second break I find two red aces staring at me while UTG. After watching it work for others in tourneys I limp in, to see ScurvyDog raise it up right after me. After folding around and a couple of re-raises my aces hold up to his unfortunate KK and I’m sitting in 3rd place. After a few more blind steals and taking down a hand from Da Gunz (I’ll let you know what I had BB, just IM me and no it wasn’t the hammer) I was sitting pretty to make a final table run with 19 people left. Then, an unmistakable cry pierced my pokery surroundings of Warrant singing about getting some sweet cherry pie.


Time to be a dad.

But at first I didn’t want to, as I had a small chance of fulfilling one my three personal dreams – to play at the World Series of Poker. The wife objected to Wyatt sitting on the couch with me and of course my initial reaction was rage mixed with confusion. Almost three hours of “playing perfect poker” and I was resigned to baby sitting duties? It wasn’t until I wised the fuck up while laying on my son’s bedroom floor, with him falling asleep on my chest that I saw again why I was getting blinded away and caring less and less about it.

I am Wyatt’s father first, above and beyond anything else until I can’t rise out of bed anymore.

He needed me, and I made sure to be there for him. It scares me that I reacted the way I did, arguing to my wife about letting him fall asleep up here so I could continue with the tourney. I got selfish and could only think about what I was potentially giving up. So this morning there’s a bitter aftertaste of regret for my actions, apologies were made to my family and I got a soft wet kiss from both them to help me get through the work day despite sleeping a whole hour last night.

I saw JoeSpeaker’s final two tables of his fabulous WSOP ME qualifier run and the brutal suckout that left him with a stack of benjamins instead of a PokerStars buy in package. I asked him “how do you remain so positive after something like that?”.

“How could I be anything else” was his answer.

That answer hit home with me last night after spending two hours in my son’s room staring up at the spackled ceiling with him bobbing up and down on my chest. I found the reason why I became a father, and why it’s the best thing that will ever happen to me even if I never get to lineup at the Rio and receive a stack of colored clay chips while staring down some internet douchebag with Oakleys and the initials P.H. on his cap and call him a pussy for folding to my seven of hearts and deuce of spades (add in jack of diamonds and four of clubs if we're playing O8).

It may happen someday, just not today.

Thanks for dropping by, now go congratulate Gracie on her win and cheer her on at the WSOP!!

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