The November Nine had been determined, and after a rapid session of picture taking one of the ESPN guys was telling the photogs and everyone else still trying to capture the moment to get on with it. Work had to be done. The dismantling of the elaborately-constructed “mothership” had already commenced.
“If you haven’t gotten what you need by now, you need to find a new job,” he said. Sort of a buzz-kill thing to say. But no one seemed to mind very much. Too much energy radiating off the nine players, posing with arms around each other, all with wide, giddy grins.
They stood in a semi-circle around the table. Kind of like one big smile. It was impossible for anyone looking at them to avoid smiling a little, too.
“Those guys are now brothers for life,” I joked to Rich Ryan and Donnie Peters, two of my PokerNews colleagues. It felt like I was kidding when I said it, but in some respects it was true. We’ve seen before the camaraderie that develops between the nine who emerge from the thousands who enter the WSOP Main Event each year. It starts during the four-month wait, and in many cases continues long after as well.
They’ve been through something special, and now have a unique, shared experience that really will serve as a bond between them. The fact that the nine standing there last night came from seven different countries added another neat element to the idea that lasting friendships were starting to be forged -- not just between individuals, but nations. And all through a card game.
I shook hands with Rich and Donnie, sought out others to whom to say goodbye, and made my way out of the Amazon and eventually the Rio. Once outside a stranger spotted my credentials still hanging from the lanyard around my neck, and quizzed me about ESPN’s coverage of last night’s play.
He noted how from the night before to last night they’d missed showing how the field went from 22 to 14, something he found unfortunate. I assured him that stretch would be featured later on in the repackaged, edited stuff they’ll roll out in the fall, and we spoke further about the Main Event and poker in general before parting.
Poker brings people together. I’ve reunited with many friends this summer, and made many new ones, too. I’m eager to get home to Vera and family, but I’m sorry to be leaving the company of so many of my favorite folks for a while.
And so I linger a little longer. And I remember how poker brought us together. And how it will do so again.
And I smile.