Buying My Loyalty
Many different events have been cited as triggers for the poker boom. Chris Moneymaker winning the 2003 WSOP, the debut of the World Poker Tour and its hole-card cameras, the best-seller status of Jim McManus's Positively Fifth Street
. Everyone has their own answer to that question. What got me seriously interested in poker was reading the review of Andy Bellin's book Poker Nation
in the New Yorker
. I believe the review was written by Joseph Epstein, and it was both a review and a brief essay about Epstein's poker experiences. The review got me jazzed enough that for a fwe days I wolfed down a quick lunch then headed to the Barnes & Noble on Smithfield Street to grab a copy of Poker Nation
off the shelf and find a comfy chair. Yes, I know, I have a bad habit of reading books in bookstores instead of buying them.
I blitzed through Bellin's book in about three hours. If you haven't read it you should, and I find it odd that this book isn't really talked about as much as it should. I don't know if anyone shares this opinion, and certainly the book was a popular as well as a critical success, but I wonder if Poker Nation
was just a bit ahead of the poker popularity curve and got caught in the avalance of books that followed. If so, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy and read it.
Which I did the other day. OK, I went to the library and checked it out for the 8th time. Sue me. Anyway, there's a part where he's talking about gamblers who, though they've just thrown away thousands at craps or blackjack or even poker, have their grey skies turned to blue just by a simple gift from the casino. You've just had your aces cracked for the sixth time tonight? Have a baseball cap. The guy with the weeping sores on his arms just raked in his tenth monster pot of the night while you're on your seventh buy-in? Here's a comp for a slice of pizza.
I thought about this because of what just happened to me. I went to an orientation meeting for my new company, signing up for benefits and the like, and in addition to the folders and binders and foot-thick stacks of paper each of us was given a small canvas shoulder bag with the company name and logo on it. Now, I've worked for lots of large corporations in my time, and I know there's a reason that "warm and cuddly" isn't often used to describe them. But I must say, in all honesty, I would gladly commit a Class-1 felony for my company right now. Just because of that bag. Silly, I know. Stupid, perhaps. Crazy, yeah. But if my company looked at me, and raised its right eyebrow an eighth of an inch, and then looked at some blissfully unaware guy chattering away over his lunch, well, I'd be in the woods tonight digging a hole six feet deep, with the rear end of my car sagging under the weight of Mr. Chatterbox.
I should say, it's a really nice bag.