The Country Club Game

It was 11:30am Saturday morning and I was speeding down a two-lane highway south of my little burg. A bar singer from my original hometown belted out of the CD player with the words “No one’s gonna stop to pick up a stranger, and the sbo stranger that you look, the faster they drive by.” I had the window down, even though it was too chilly for such a thing. I ate Nutter-Butters, pounded Diet Mountain Dew, and checked my face in the rearview mirror.

I was on my way to a $250 buy-in NL Hold’em tournament at a local country club. When I pulled into the parking lot, there was a brand new black Corvette with the license plate “FLOPASET” and a H2Hummer with the license plate “THENUTZ.”

I pulled out an envelope that contined another envelope that countained yet another envelope, inside which was my entire cash bankroll. Exactly why I’d chosen to bring the whole thing, I don’t know. There was a part of me that believed I was about to enter the land of milk and honey, where rich boys play for real cash and Otis could finance his summer plans.

I pulled a few hundred bucks out of the inner envelope, packed the three envelopes together, then hid them all in a fourth envelope inside Emilio, my SDV-SUV. I stepped out, and, almost as an after thought grabbed a pair of cheap sunglasses to go along with my three card protectors, smaller roll of cash, Certs mini-mints, and two Diet Mountain Dews.

I will admit, as I walked up to the nice-appointed Country Club clubhouse, I had a brief vision of the movie “Rounders” where Mike and Worm fleece the rich boys with the help of that good looking, curly-headed girl. The thoughts disappeared though as I climbed the stairs to the second floor.

A couple dozen people milled around the room. I recognized a few from earlier games at The Mark, BadBlood’s, or in the nearby town of Easley. There were other folks who looked familiar, but I couldn’t place them.

Chafing dishes lined the walls and would eventually be filled with appetizers. A guy dressed like a butler came around taking drink orders. Giant windows opened up the view of the first tee at the golf course. I stood and watched as one hacker battled the wind and splashed into the water hazard on his first tee-shot. Serves the screwball right for hitting from the back tees on a windy day.

It took a while to figure out how many players we actually had. It was just enough time for me to lose my nerves, then get them back, then lose them again. I passed the time talking to Rank, a regular at BadBlood’s who regularly– and calmly– sucks out on me. Rank had just come back from Vegas and had nice things to say about the new MGM poker room. That’s where I’m staying in June, so I promised to check it out.

Ultimately, the tournament director accounced we had 31 people putting up $250 a piece. He would be paying four places.