The waitress brought a full pot of coffee to the table and Tricia snatched it up and filled Kevin’s cup.
“Ok, there!” She said glaring at him, “Now you’ve got coffee. No more excuses. Spill it, what are you up to?”
Kevin took a sip of coffee. Then he looked at Matt who was looking somewhat amused at Tricia. “You know patience is a great virtue for a poker player. Obviously that is a lesson that your wife will have to learn yet.”
Matt smiled. “Good luck teaching her. I’m pretty sure she regards patience as a four letter word.”
“Enough you two or you’ll hear some four letter words,” Tricia said. “What are you up to Kevin?”
“I hope your feelings aren’t hurt,” Kevin said looking at Caroline. “It would seem that visiting a friend is not enough for her.”
“You know that’s not true,” Tricia blurted out. “But you’ve as much as admitted that there is something more to your trip here.”
“Kevin I know you are enjoying watching her squirm but you’ve drawn it out long enough.” Caroline said with a smile.
“Ok,” Kevin said putting his cup down and leaning forward slightly, ready to get down to business. “Matt have you and Tricia discussed whether she is going to play any more tournaments?”
Matt nodded. “I’m all for it as long as we can arrange for Matty to be taken care of. It worked out well this last time and I don’t just mean because she won good money.”
“I can’t believe you let her just go off like that for two weeks,” Dutch said. “All things considered I mean.”
Tricia and Mary Beth both turned to glare at Dutch. It was clear he was referring to the thing with Jaime. That made Tricia feel slightly guilty but in the end she had mostly behaved herself she thought.
“Maybe Matt is capable of growing a little. He’s learned to trust her again and he loves her enough to let her do something that is important to her that she is good at and that she enjoys. Honestly Dutch your thinking is so Neanderthal at times!”
Dutch appeared to be going to retort when Matt spoke up, obviously heading off the coming argument between Dutch and Mary Beth. “That pretty much sums it up Dutch. I see no harm that came out off letting Tricia go to that tournament thing. She does seem to do well at it and obviously enjoys it since she talks about it constantly. I’ve got no problem with her making some extra money either.”
When it looked like Dutch was going to respond to that Mary Beth hissed at him to let it lie.
Kevin had been watching the byplay and continued now. “Tricia showed me a lot I liked in her play during the short time I got to spend with her Matt. She’s got a lot of potential and she does obviously enjoy the game. Obviously she can’t do the tournament circuit like many players do but there are also many who just play selected events. “
“I really did come here mostly just to visit her since I had to be in town anyway. Caroline and I was talking about it though and came up with a tentative list of events in the coming year that might be good for you Tricia. We found something every month or so but from what you’ve told me of your home life and all I’d recommend maybe playing 3 or 4 events over the next year. Few of them will have you away from home more than a week at a time. There are also some things scheduled at casinos that you’ve said you and Matt have driven to for a weekend. I’d suggest you supplement your schedule with those.”
“Really? That sounds great,” Tricia said. “I wondered what I was going to do about figuring out what I should play next. I talked to Matt about maybe getting to Vegas for the WSOP, at least for part of it.”
Kevin looked at Matt who shrugged. “Neither of us have ever been to Vegas but from what she told me it made sense. That is the biggest event there is.”
Kevin nodded. “That it is. Were you thinking about making it a kind of family vacation?”
“Would that be a problem?” Matt asked. “I mean would it keep her from playing well or something? Are you going to suggest it would be better for her to go alone?”
Tricia heard the suspicion creep into Matt’s voice. A glance at Kevin and she knew he’d picked up on it as well.
“Actually for her first trip to Vegas I think a family type trip might be good. Matty is old enough to get something out of it I’d think. There is some kid type stuff there too. You might even want to think about having your parents go with you as well Tricia. They’d probably enjoy it and they could watch Matty part of the time and give you two a night or two on the town.”
“Oh,” Matt said, obviously surprised by the answer. “The thing is I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and I don’t think I can get away this summer for long enough.”
Kevin smiled. “Just as well. I was going to gently try to encourage Tricia to wait until next year. I could see that the circuit event nearly overwhelmed her at times and the main event is an order of magnitude more intimidating. Isn’t that right Caroline?”
Caroline nodded. “I still remember my first time there. It was amazing. Heck every year it seems to get bigger now. If you can I’d get a bit more experience under your belt Tricia.”
“Oh,” Tricia said not sure if she was feeling relief or maybe a little hurt at being told she wasn’t quite ready.
“Before you start feeling all inadequate and like we think you’re not ready,” Kevin said smiling when the look on Tricia’s face told him that he’d read her reaction right. “I have a suggestion that I think you’ll like.”
“Ok, I’m listening.” Tricia said.
Kevin pulled out a brochure and slid it over to Tricia and Matt. “There is a tournament series upcoming at Turning Stone Casino in New York. It’s a nice place and the tournaments will be good practice for Tricia. The buy ins are reasonable and the number of entries will guarantee a very nice prize pool. The one thing wrong that I don’t like about it is that I’d have liked to be there but I’ll be in Europe and then have to go right to Vegas after that.”
Kevin then looked at Matt. “I’m hoping, Matt, that if Tricia is willing you’ll be agreeable to me coaching Tricia a bit. The tournaments I selected with the exception of this one are ones I plan to play at least part of.”
Tricia’s eyes got wide. “You’re serious? Can I afford your coaching?”
“Since it’s not going to cost you anything up front then yes I think so.” Kevin said. “We can hash out the details but some of the time I’d like to have a piece of your action. The only thing my help will ever cost you is some time and part of some of your winnings the times I buy some of your action. You’ll find I’m not hard to live with. I’m doing this mostly as a friend but you’re familiar with people I’ve got similar deals with. You will have a chance to talk to them more about it if you want. There will be nothing binding. If you decide you want to handle your own action and keep all your profits then so be it.”
“What’s in it for you?” Matt asked somewhat suspiciously.
Kevin shrugged. “Well corny as it may sound, friendship. I know lots of poker players but there are few I really like spending that much time around. Also I do hope that Tricia and I can make a dealthat will be mutually beneficial. I can lower her downside risk without lowering her upside reward all that much. It’s all pretty standard stuff. There are not many tournament pros that pay all of their own buy-ins. I certainly don’t. I’ve also got connections that down the way could mean some sort of sponsorship deal. It’s too early to worry about that though.”
Matt looked at the brochure that Tricia was looking at. “Is all that something you think you’d want? I guess you know more about it than I do.”
“I know I like playing poker,” Tricia said. “And I know I have a lot to learn yet. These tournaments look good and if we can arrange for Matty to be taken care of then I’d like to do it. I don’t know about the whole sponsorship thing, that seems a bit too serious.”
Tricia realized as soon as it was out of her mouth that her last statement had not sounded right. Before anybody could say anything, but not before there were some surprised looks, she quickly spoke up again.
“I didn’t mean I’m not serious about poker,” She tried to explain. “It’s just that something like a sponsorship deal seems to be a bit much to expect at this point. I just won’t have time to play more than a handful of tournaments at the most for many years to come. I want to learn all I can and be the best I can be but I think I need to take it in small, manageable steps. Heck even doing as well as I did in my first one overwhelmed me a bit. I’m just a wimp I guess.”
Both Kevin and Caroline chuckled but it was Caroline who said, “I don’t think it makes you a wimp. I think it makes you honest. You seem to have a good grasp on your limitations but you don’t let that hold you back much. You’re not afraid to stretch it seems to me but you are careful not to stretch too far too fast. I’d say that is a good thing.”
Kevin nodded. “Definitely it’s a good thing. It’s part of why I was going to dissuade you from attending much, if any, of the WSOP this year. You’ll be far more seasoned and ready next yearif you can work it into your schedule then.”
“I think the waitress is getting anxious to have her table for other customers,” Dutch said earning a dirty look from Mary Beth. It had been a poorly veiled attempt on his part to get to leave.
Tricia thought he had a point though and realized they’d spent a long time talking after dinner.
“Dutch is right, we should let them have their table,” Tricia said earning a surprised look from Mary Beth. “Why don’t we all go back to our house. Unless you all have something else you need to do.”
Dutch looked like he was going to say something but Mary Beth’s elbow stopped him. Matt took one look at Tricia and the protest of work in the morning never made it past his lips. He looked at Kevin and Caroline, obviously in hopes they would say they needed to go.
“I’d be happy to if it’s not going to be a problem,” Kevin said.
“Of course it’s not!” Tricia said. “I thought it might be a late night which is why I agreed for Matty to stay with my parents. I just wish there was a casino close enough we could all go play poker.”
Caroline chuckled. “Yeah, no worries about you being serious about it are there?”
Matt laughed as they walked out of the restaurant. “No you have no worries on that score. She tries to talk about it to me all the time only I usually have little clue what she’s talking about. I play a little but I admit she’s gone way beyond me.”
In the parking lot Kevin took the keys to the rental car out of his pocket and handed them to Caroline.
“Why don’t I drive back with Matt. It’ll give us a bit of time for a talk. Tricia can ride with you Caroline and make sure you get back without getting lost.”
Caroline stuck her tongue out at Kevin and they both laughed.
“She’s only seen the drive once and that was in daylight. You can’t expect her to find her way back in the dark.” Tricia said.
Caroline chuckled and looked at Kevin.
“Her sad secret Tricia, is that while she was a top notch lawyer and is a great poker player she cannot find her way out of a paper sack without getting lost at least once.”
“Oh be nice Kevin,” Tricia said. “It can’t be that bad.”
Caroline laughed. “I’m afraid it can. I constantly give thanks for the invention of GPS navigation systems and even then I still get lost sometimes.”
Kevin steered Matt toward his work truck and was already talking to him as Caroline and Tricia started to get into the rental car. Mary Beth came scurrying over.