This past weekend, I flew across half the country to participate in a poker tournament hosted by a former* fraternity brother. There were 22 of us seated at three tables with a bevy of food and beverages to keep us well contented and lubricated over the course of the afternoon. Some of the guys played fairly regularly and others, such as yours truly, hadn’t played in over a year.
And then I was out. THE FIRST ONE OUT. I had a pair of Jacks and I bet aggressively, pre-flop, but two guys matched me. Then, a Queen appeared on the flop, and I felt I had to bet even more aggressively to chase the two out. One obliged and one didn’t—the one with the pair of Queens, it turns out.
At first I was disappointed, however, the more I thought about it, the better I was with it. Being out first meant that I could mingle amongst the remaining tables and catch up with guys I hadn’t seen in years.
And the best part was that no time had passed. Sure, we were all a little older, some fatter and a great number had wives and kids and responsibilities, but we all cracked jokes, told stories and laughed to the point of tears. Some guys had suffered health problems, experienced losses or were having a hard time, but we listened, consoled and, after a certain point, busted their balls. Because that’s what we do.
Will I remember who won this year? Yes, because we get it engraved on a trophy. Will anyone remember that I was the first one out this year? Yes, because those guys are merciless.
Was it worth it? You bet your @$$ it was.
*Technically we’re still fraternity brothers—brothers for life and all that—but I mean that we’re not longer in college.