“We really should be going,” Kevin said looking over at Caroline who was looking very sleepy. “It’s after one in the morning and we do have a flight out at eleven tomorrow.”
Tricia sighed, shuffled the cards one last time and put them down. “We shouldn’t have kept you this late.”
“Nonsense,” Kevin smiled. “I enjoyed every minute of it.”
They were in Tricia’s parent’s kitchen sitting at the kitchen table. In addition to Tricia, Kevin and Caroline Tricia’s dad and his friend Hank were there still. Her father had called his poker buddies when Tricia had called to borrow his chips and he’d told her to come over and use them. A couple of them had come, only Hank was still holding on. Matt had left a couple of hours before taking Mary Beth home on his way.
“We appreciate the chance to learn Hold’em from a pro,” Hank said. “I think I have a decent handle on it. I’m not too stubborn to try to learn more from some of the books you recommended either young feller.”
Tricia smiled slightly, wondering if her father would also try reading any of the books that Kevin had recommended. She had already read a couple of them. Several of his friends had totally blown off the idea that they could learn anything about poker from a book, saying that they’d learned what they had through the school of hard knocks and saw no better way than that.
“Thank you Hank,” Kevin said standing up and stretching. “I love the game and I love to teach it. Personally I think I make a better teacher and coach than a player. The books will help. I promise you that. But in a way your buddies were right, there is no substitute for lots of practice.”
“I think we’ll be practicing Hold’em plenty during our weekly games now,” Hank said.
“I hope you enjoy it. I also hope that you all will let Tricia play with you some. She can teach you all a lot about hold’em if you let her and I know you all can teach her a lot about seven card stud.”
“I’m not the ogre she has obviously told you I am,” Tricia’s father said to Kevin. “I don’t know if you convinced any of the others that Hold’em is a good game too but between the three of you I know you convinced the lot of us that women can play good poker.”
Caroline smiled at that. “I’m glad to hear you say that Jerry. Your daughter stands to have a very promising future in poker if she chooses. I hope you’ll feel proud of her.”
“I do,” Tricia’s dad said gruffly. “I raised her and her brother as well as I could but I’m willing to admit now that maybe I could have done some things different. Age sometimes brings wisdom. Maybe that’s why I’m having so much fun with my grandson.”
Tricia felt her eyes tearing up and moved over and gave her father a hug that visibly embarrassed him.
“See now?” her father said. “That is the problem. You women are do damned emotional all the time.”
Hank, looking uncomfortable, grunted agreement.
Kevin was just grinning. “You’re right about that Jerry but you know there is nothing us mere mortal men can do about it and I for one don’t know that I want to try.”
Tricia let go of her father and he stood up.
Kevin reached over and they shook hands. “It was great meeting you sir. I hope to see you again soon. Maybe you will get a chance to accompany Tricia to one of the tournaments and see her in action.”
“I’m sure we will,” Tricia’s dad said to Kevin. “It was nice to meet you after hearing her talk about you. I feel better about her running off to play these tournaments now that I’ve met you and Caroline.”
Once Kevin, Caroline and Tricia were in the car heading back to Tricia’s house Tricia looked over at Kevin. “Thank you for doing that. I think you actually changed some stubborn old minds tonight.”
Kevin smiled and reached over to ruffle Tricia’s hair. “I honestly enjoyed it Tricia. I also do love to teach the game.”
“And he made not only your husband but your parents feel a bit better about you playing tournament poker and taking trips a few times a year,” Caroline said, smiling. “That was a big part of what he hoped to do. You had to have guessed that.”
“Of course I did,” Tricia said.
“Honestly that was only part of it. Since we had to be in town anyway even if you had decided you could not play any more tournaments I’d have visited you.” Kevin said.
“I know that too,” Tricia said with a smile. “Caroline was teasing, at least a little. I’m learning that you can be teased.”
Kevin gave a theatrical sigh. “I knew it would be dangerous to get you two together.”
Tricia and Caroline smiled at each other and laughed.
“Do you think Mary Beth will really go with you to Turning Stone?” Caroline asked.
“Well it surprised the hell out of me when she came up with that,” Tricia admitted. “She did seem to like the game. Now maybe she will actually play a couple of the sites I downloaded for her months ago.”
“Make sure she takes it easy,” Kevin said. “It’s not long until that event and there is no way she is really going to be ready for tournament play even on that level. If you can keep her to small cash games it would be best really.”
“Oh come on Kevin,” Caroline said. “I got the feeling that Mary Beth is pretty realistic. She will know she’s not really ready but if she wants to try a tournament it’s not going to break her.”
Tricia nodded. “I think she wants to go to keep me company and to see what it’s like and also to get away from Dutch for a while. I know he’s driving her nuts right now. I’m wondering how much of a stink he will make over this.”
“Not much if he’s smart,” Caroline said. “If you ask me Tricia your friend is near the breaking point. She doesn’t sound like she’s going to take too much more crap from her husband before she snaps.”
“Yeah. I’m a little surprised that she hasn’t just pretty much said ‘screw you’ and rented the space she’s been looking at for the retail part of her decorating business. I guess it’s too many years of buying into what Dutch is trying to sell her about her place being at home.”
“That’s crap!” Caroline said heatedly. “Hell I have all the respect in the world for her staying home to raise her kids. So many women just can’t these days. They are old enough to stand on their own two feet most of the time now though and so is she. Now it’s time for her husband to grow up.”
Kevin was smiling. “Calm down Caroline. Nobody in this car is about to argue with you.”
She turned to glare at him and the smiled and chuckled. “Yeah I know. It just burns my butt the way he treats her.”
“Really?” Kevin asked. “I never would have guessed.”
Tricia giggled as Caroline reached over the seat to smack Kevin on the shoulder.
“The question is how do you feel about her going Tricia?” Kevin asked.
“I think it will be fun,” Tricia said. “I’ve never had a chance to take that kind of trip with a girl friend. You said Jaime won’t be there, right?”
Kevin shook his head. “He will be in New Orleans at the circuit event there.”
“Why didn’t you suggest that for me?” Tricia asked.
“Maybe I wanted Jaime to be able to focus,” Kevin said with a grin.
Tricia looked in shock at Kevin. “Did I distract him that badly?”
Caroline chuckled. “Be careful how you answer that one Kevin. If you say she didn’t distract him then she’s going to have her female pride hurt and if you say she did then she’s going to feel guilty.”
Kevin laughed. “Oh you distracted him big time Tricia but don’t feel guilty. I honestly don’t think it affected his play. Besides he is going to have to learn to play through all manner of distractions.”
“So then why did you say I should go to Turning Stone for that tournament? Because it’s smaller, and cheaper and the players will be lower quality?”
“Those are some of the reasons,” Kevin admitted. “They aren’t the most important ones though.”
“You just got back from a two week trip not all that long ago. It was your first ever experience and it was pretty intense. I think it will be good for you to be a slightly bigger fish in a slightly smaller pond for now.”
“More like a shark than a fish,” Caroline muttered.
“Don’t swell her head up,” Kevin chuckled. “Seriously Tricia I think you have a good chance to cash in any of the events. I want you to play to win though, not to cash. The buy-ins are relatively small, the total of all of them won’t ding what you brought home from Indiana. If you cash high in even one though you can make enough to pay for the whole trip.”
“That’s another part of it,” Caroline said. “If you go to New Orleans you’re going to just about have to fly. Hotels are expensive. Hell the place is just getting put back together from Katrina. You’d probably need a rental car because you won’t get into the main hotel. I think you’ll be very happy with Turning Stone Tricia. Honest.”
“So you agree with Kevin that this is best for me?”
Caroline nodded. “Not that it matters. He’s your coach not me. Hell he’s MY coach. I’m not going to second guess him.”
Kevin laughed. “The hell you aren’t. You do it all the time.”
“Not about how you handle other players.”
“Ok good point,” Kevin conceded. “Tricia just go and have fun. Take it seriously but don’t forget that you’re primarily there to enjoy yourself. You’ll have a friend along. Have fun with her. Can I ask you to email me regularly about how you’re doing?”
“Well sure, I guess,” Tricia said. “If I can get internet service anyway.”
“You’re resourceful. You’ll manage.” Kevin said. “I’ll swing back through here on my way to Vegas and we’ll have a couple of days to go over some things. I’ll let you know the details of that when I have a better handle on that part of my schedule. Does that sound ok?”
“Of course!” Tricia said. “You’re really going to stop by just to see me?”
“I don’t really understand why you have such a hard time with that,” Kevin said shaking his head. “Yes I will. And if we get a game up with your Dad and his buddies so much the better.I want you to hold them to their word of letting you play. Don’t you dare take it easy on them either. They won’t take it easy on you when they’re teaching you stud I don’t think.”
“You don’t think they will stop inviting me if I keep beating them at Hold’em?” Tricia asked.
Kevin shook his head. “No, at first they will ascribe it to luck. By the time they figure out you are really good they’ll be hooked on having you play. The real fun will be when you start beating them at seven card stud.”
“You think I will?” Tricia said, “I found out tonight how much I don’t know about it that I thought I did.”
“Well you read through that book and practice a bit online. Think it through like you do hold’em and you’ll be fine. Remember though that they do have years of experience and no formal training. From what I saw they are great on later streets. Learn from that but use your judgment as well.”
They were just pulling into Tricia’s driveway. She turned to Kevin as the stopped. “Thank you for everything.” She leaned over and gave him a hug and kiss on the cheek.
Caroline hugged Tricia after they got out as she was about to get into the front seat that Tricia had just vacated.
“Have a good time in New York Tricia. I hope you knock ‘em dead. Take care of Mary Beth too. Make sure she has a good time. She could use a break.”
“I will do all that,” Tricia said returning Caroline’s hug. “Have a good time in Europe and tell me all about it next time I see you. Thanks for coming.”
“Wouldn’t have missed it,” Caroline told her climbing into the front seat.
Tricia stood on the front porch with the door open watching them drive back down the driveway. After the lights of the car were gone she stood there for another couple of seconds then gave a contented sigh and went into the house.