This was not the post I wanted to write.
Mike spent the last week in Las Vegas, competing in two World Series of Poker events in his signature game, Pot Limit Omaha (It's actually called Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better. Let's just call it PLO8 for fun). It was his third attempt at a World Series of Poker title. His first trip out, four years ago, was to play in the Main Event, the one you actually see on TV. The Main Event is Texas Hold 'Em, not Mike's true game, but a thrill to participate in for the sheer spectacle, nonetheless. He'd won his buy-in to the event on-line, and so it was really just for fun.
Last year Mike went out to Vegas on his own dime, to participate in the smaller of the two events in PLO8. He had high hopes of doing well. He came home disappointed. When you've invested a sizable chunk of your own income for the privilege of playing in an event, there's some pressure attached. I think it got to him.
This year felt different, full of possibility. He was being backed by two of the principals at PokerXFactor. They put up the money for him to play in the events, and should he cash in any they earn a percentage of the winnings. Thanks to the arrangement, he was able to play in both the $1500 and $5000 Pot Limit Omaha events. Twice the chance to bring home a bracelet. Twice the chance to bring home some serious cash. More confidence, less pressure.
His first event was Tuesday, and I spent the better part of the event annoying my Twitter followers with updates and re-tweets. He was doing well and it was contagious. He finished that event 45th out of 847, and for the first time in his World Series of Poker career he finished in the money.
You can't help but imagine what might happen if he were to actually win an event. For Mike, it would be the poker equivalent of winning an Oscar. For me, it would be the equivalent of being the Jesse James to his Sandra Bullock, except for the part where I run off and cheat on him, of course. There would be the celebratory tweets and Facebook posts. We'd throw a fabulous party in his honor. There would be a lot of teasing about him wearing the bracelet in public, with lots of references to The Jersey Shore. And of course there would be the money. Life-changing kind of money. I'd already envisioned the post I would write about that – how we did the smart thing with the money, how Dave Ramsey would approve, how un-sexy and yet so cool our decisions were.
But that's not the post I was meant to write, not when you wake up to this tweet:
31st out of 287. Four spots away from the money. So close.
If I'm disappointed, I can only imagine how Mike is feeling. I imagine he just wants to be home now, after a week in Vegas. We want him home, too. We miss him so much.
As disappointing as it may be, I hope he isn't disappointed in himself. When you finish ahead of names like Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Phil Ivey, and Daniel Negreanu, you shouldn't be too hard on yourself. When you earn yourself two write-ups in PokerNews, including your very own headline (Six Nixed!), you ought to cut yourself some slack. When you have a hot wife and two charming kids waiting for you at home, how big of a deal is a measly old poker tournament in the grand scheme of things, really?
You know the saying, What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Leave whatever regrets and second guesses you have in Vegas, baby. Come home, where we'll have a party for you anyway (of course, it's technically a birthday party for our daughter, but details-schmeetails). Come home and we'll forget all about it. Until next year, that is. And then I'll have this killer post . . .