When I tell people Iâ€™m headed to Vegas with 100 or so of my closest friends, itâ€™s always met with a laugh. No way thatâ€™s possible. No way I know that many people that could coordinate travel schedules at the same time, meet up at the same places, and hang out for a weekend actually enjoying each otherâ€™s company with only the least bit of drama, and minimal jail time.
Way. And weâ€™ve been doing it for years. I’d show you videos, but there’s not a one that doesn’t have some sort of questionable content, and the photos usually come with some stipulation that the parties involved wish to not have their real identities exposed on the internet. It’s just how we roll.
WPBT stands for World Poker Blogger Tour. There is no official process for admittance. One only needs to have a blog, an occasional love for the game of poker (and in some cases just a love for someone who does), and a healthy disregard for your liver. Okay, so that last part isn’t a requirement so much as a helpful suggestion.
I started blogging in 2004, a fact that simultaneously makes me feel old and yet proud of sticking with a hobby for 5+ years. As I explained in my first post, the blog was meant as a way to keep in touch with my friends I was leaving behind at my former worksite as I returned to college. Â Along the way I developed a nasty poker habit that took over my free time and my writing. In exchange, it gave me one of the most amazing communities Iâ€™ve ever known.
These are the folks that kept me sane through college term papers and final exams (though sometimes that meant slipping me frequent flier miles for Vegas weekends that fell during finals). These are the people that rally around when one is sick, or loses a house, or family member. Â I know that if I find myself stranded in Iowa, Montana, Canada, or Ireland even â€“ Iâ€™ve got a place I can call home. If I needed anything at all â€“ from a job to help with a random research request to someone who will pick up the phone at 3am to wax existential; this was my group.
In a little less than a month I will sit at the Sportsbook bar behind the poker room at the MGM Grand surrounded by this weird little family weâ€™ve made. The bartenders remember us. The dealers all know us. Itâ€™s our annual meeting point for the Friday night of our trip; where the poker room manager makes sure weâ€™re taken good care of. Itâ€™s the first place I met many of these people in person and a big part of why the MGM Grand means so much to me. People brought together from all across the country by a shared love of cards, to meet in the gambling mecca. These days we don’t even play cards much anymore, a fact my mother cannot wrap her head around – it’s more about the group of friends getting together to connect face to face in a world where it’s getting way to easy to maintain a friendship with mouse clicks and touchscreen texts alone.
How do you tell your friends you love them and theyâ€™re awesome? Usually this is done with a shot in hand; and after several have been knocked back already… itâ€™s impossible to fully express how important each and every one of these friends has been to me over the years. If any of you are in doubt Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ll find me in Vegas and let me tell you in person with a shot of SoCo. Or maybe a crayon.