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Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Perfect Poker Gift
We've all seen the poker-related junk that retailers have been hawking for the past 2 years. The most recent example to really make me take notice is a store at the Rosedale Mall called the World Poker Store (it's like a subliminal rhyme). It's filled with poker tables, poker chip sets, poker books and CDs, poker clothing, etc. And it's always empty. It almost makes me feel guilty -- like maybe, as someone who loves poker, I should be supporting my local poker-related businesses. But I already have a poker table, three poker chip sets, plenty of decks of cards (including Kem cards), a poker gremlin, a Scotty Nguyen bobblehead, Tommy Angelo's CD of poker songs, and a rather large library of poker books. What else could I possibly need?

I mention this because recently my buddy Campbool got married, and one of his good friends gave him the perfect poker gift: a stake.

Just a little background here: Campbool actually met his bride-to-be at the poker night we used to host back in Providence. Yes, I can proudly say that they met over my poker table. And at the wedding they even had a few poker-y touches, such as decks of cards and chocolate poker chips in the out-of-town gift bags. For their honeymoon, they went to Vegas, and at Campbool's bachelor party, they sure as hell played some poker.

Campbool being in New England and me being in Minneapolis, I missed the bachelor party, but I heard about. Campbool's good friend Sue (he is actually male, yes it is kinda like the Johnny Cash song) has been very into online poker for the last several years -- he makes more from online poker than I do from my regular job (although that's not saying all that much, heh heh). Anyway, for a wedding present Sue gave Campbool $400, with some stipulations. Campbool was only allowed to use the money to buy into a live WSOP satellite in Vegas, or to play $10/$20 limit Hold'em. If he won anything, he had to use the first $100 winning to buy his new wife a gift. Beyond $100, Campbool had to split his winnings with Sue.

So cool.

The way their honeymoon plans worked out, a WSOP satellite wasn't really an option, so Campbool looked for a $10/$20 game. This was a fairly big deal for him, since he'd only played live casino poker a few times before (one of those occasions was $3/$6 at the Mirage last October with me).

So how did it turn out? Well, Campbool stayed at the Bellagio, and it ended up being a lot harder to find a $10/$20 game (or an $8/$16 game, as the Bellagio spreads), than it would have been to find a lower-stakes game. So he headed over the my favorite poker room in Vegas, the one at the Mirage. He actually sat down with $560 rather than just $400, cause like me he likes to have more than 25 big bets in a live game.

And then he went up $350! Freaking cool. He said that many of the people at his table were there for the WSOP -- having won satellites online, or come to Vegas that weekend specifically to play in a $1500 event or just to watch -- and we speculated that the WSOP is a good weekend for cash-game poker, just cause you have a lower proportion of regular grinders and a higher propertion of poker-playing tourists, whatever their skill level.

Campbool of course did not sustain the insane win rate he set the first day, and ended the honeymoon up $170 after some serious swings. To my mind, that he rose out those swings for a win, having fun the whole time at stakes he wasn't used to, is the coolest part of the whole thing. As per Sue's terms, Campbool's lovely bride went shopping with the first hundred, $100, and Campbool now owes Sue $35.

The $170 is great, but I gotta think the experience is more valuable. Now Campbool's got the confidence of having won at a higher limit than he might have ever played at otherwise. That's what all the guys in Vegas do, right? Well, at least the impression that I get is that between a lot of the regulars it is "Dude, you're smart but broke, here's some cash, go make me and you some money and then remember that you owe me a favor." Well, Sue gave a gift instead, and I can't think of a better one for a poker player.

OK, so now everyone knows what to get me this Christmas, right? :-)

Shees, you trying to make me blush?

I agree especially with your last point -- I very much doubt that in the future, you'll see Campbooool at the 3/6 tables when he plays live. :)
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