Lee Davy continues his World Series of Poker diaries with a bit of discussion surrounding Father’s Day.
“Just to keep you posted butt, I’ve had a little luck on the lottery!!! Give me a text. Hope u and Liza are well butt, we could be seeing you soon.”
That text came from an old friend from the Valleys this week. For the non-Welsh readers, the word ‘Butt,’ or ‘Butty Boy,’ is slang for ‘Pal’ or ‘Mate’. It’s not to be confused with the word ‘Batty Boy’ which means something different entirely.
My instinctive response was to say: “Jammy bastard…why don’t I ever win the lottery?” Then I realize that I don’t play the Lottery. I text back asking if he is the man who won the £93m Euro Millions jackpot?
“Not quite lol, we’ve won £117k.”
I start wondering what I would do with £117k.
I would give 3% (£3,500) to Raising for Effective Giving (REG), I would put 22% (£25,740) into my investment portfolio, place 10% (£11,700) into my exploring/bucket list fund, organize a slap up wedding festival for the wife and I, buy my son an Armani watch and pre order a copy of Fallout 4, play some more poker events, buy the wife something I think is ace but she thinks is shit, and invest the rest into my business.
The initial injection of jealousy hit my veins. The rush subsides. Gratitude for my friend’s luck exudes in the form of a “Well Done Mate” type text. I haven’t spent time with him since my divorce, but in truth we started to drift apart when I quit drinking alcohol.
I remember when I was considering leaving the railway to try and make it as a professional poker player. My friend was helping me clean out my garage when I asked for his opinion.
“If anyone can do it, you can.” He said.
Everyone else I confided in thought I was nuts. He was the first person to give me hope. He is responsible for me being able to share my opinion with the world. It’s a shame that we drifted apart, but that’s life.
As Placebo’s Brian Molko sings: “I’ve got too many friends, too many people. That I’ll never meet, I’ll never be there for. I’ll never be there for. Because I’ll never be there.”
I’ll never be there because I’m part of poker’s ecology now. The word ‘industry’ doesn’t do it justice. This is a world within a world, and unless you are part of it, you won’t understand it. It’s tough enough for people within it. It’s full of cliques, gangs, and snobs. Not everyone can fit in.
His text made me miss home. Then I walked out of the apartment, and the sun started to sizzle my skin.
“Fuck home,” I thought.
It was Father’s Day this week. I’m never home on Father’s Day. I’m always at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). I was playing in the Extended Levels event when I received a Facebook alert. My son had put together a father & son collage. I started to cry. I was confused. Was I crying because of the photo, or the fact that I had just lost a 70bb pot KK<A4dd?
His post said: “Happy Father’s Day to the best man around!”
But I’m not around.
I’m in Las Vegas.
I’m always in Las Vegas.
Each, and every year.
When I was married to his mother my home was Ogmore Vale. When I got divorced it wasn’t. For some people, home is where you lay your hat. I didn’t even have a hat. Poker came along at the right time. It gave me somewhere to go. I needed the income, but I also needed to get away.
I have a lot of internal conflict about my post divorce days. On one hand I know it was important for me to travel. If I didn’t take those jobs, I wouldn’t have been able to carve out the niche that I have today. I would have found another job, but I doubt I would have found the freedom and happiness that this one gives me.
The conflict is obvious, but I will cover it anyway. Whilst I was away, I had to leave my son to deal with the fallout of the divorce without the love of his father. We’ve spoken about it. He says he understands. But I wasn’t there for him, period.
I never stay the entire period of the WSOP. I always go home just before the Main Event begins. I miss my son, and I am sure he misses me, but I really go home because of my sense of duty. I don’t want to go home. It’s not home. There is nothing for me in that valley except my son.
This situation only presents itself through divorce. If I was still with his mother, the thought of travelling would not have occurred to me. The divorce in itself led to my discovery of the importance of traveling, not just in a purely tangible ‘I saw the Eiffel Tower’ kind of way, but in a spiritual growth kind of way.
I’m attracted to the sun. It energizes me, and makes me feel good. When I’m home, I look out of my window and everything is grey. The buildings are grey, the street lights are grey, the pavement is grey, and the clouds are grey. My wife tells me that it often feels like the world is caving in on us. That’s the clouds. They suffocate.
I wish I could pull him out of school and drag him all over the world. I could steal Daniel Idema’s hot air balloon. I have enough hot air to fill it. He would learn so much about life, and I would get to experience it with him. But then there is his mother to consider, and his friends. One day you are laughing as this little bundle of joy manages to piss in his own face when he gets a little stiffy, and the next thing you know he is a young man setting down his own roots with a stiffy bigger than his Dad’s.
I’m not the only person to miss their kids during the WSOP. I interviewed Fabrice Soulier and Steve Watts in the past fortnight. Both are missing their newborn children, but both will go back to becoming full time Dads once the series is over.
It’s not like that for me.
I don’t feel like a full time Dad. I feel like a part time Dad, and I have done so ever since I got divorced. The biggest travesty of a break up is the impact that it has on your children. Here’s the rub, when you decide to break up, you have no idea how much you will miss your kids. It’s one of those things that you have to experience in order to feel the pain. There is a lot of pain.
You only get one life. You blink, and it’s gone. They grow up so fast, and as they do, so do you. But having children is the greatest responsibility you can foster. You can’t run away from parenthood. To do so will slowly kill you.
Nobody ever said this was going to be easy, but I never thought it would be so hard. In one sense, poker, and the World Series of Poker, saved me after my divorce, but in another sense, I feel like I have been robbed of precious moments with my son. But what can a man do? Stay at home, underneath the grey clouds, waiting for my weekly visitation, whilst working in a dead end job? Or do I get on with my life, and try to do the best that I can? Like I said, nobody ever said it was going to be easy.
When all is said and done, I think our children will learn more by watching what we become, and how we become it, than anything we try to force upon them. I don’t want my son to grow up underneath the grey clouds. The world is too big a place to settle for that. He needs to explore the world, think differently from everyone else, and wake up. I hope those are traits he picks up from his old man.
If he does, then all of this would have been worth it. The sacrifice of a hug, kiss, and kick of a football, will be worth it, if he learns from the tough choices that I have had to make.
If not, there is always the lottery.