Poker Chips

Tanay - Naperville, Illinois
Entered on April 23, 2008

I can’t lose what I don’t put it in the middle. I believe in keeping my chip stack under my control, taking my future into my own hands.

Growing up, everything was a competition for my brother and me. Whose baseball game would Mom and dad go to, who got the better score on their ACT. With my brother being 5 years older, he had an advantage, and after trying to compete with him, I ended up trying to do everything just like him. He played baseball, so I played baseball, he listened to Eminem, and I got his CD. My parents knew that I looked up to him, and always told him to set the right goals.

I guess we started to drift apart when he went off to college, but he would come back during the summer, tell me all his stories, and once again, I wanted to do the same. Over the summer he would go out to play poker, and come back and show me how much money he won, and how he hit it big with betting on the Bulls. So naturally, I started playing too. I would rush home after the poker tournament, and shout, “Raj, look I got first place in the tourney, I made $50.”

“Cool….” He would sarcastically say, rolling his eyes. I guess $50 was nothing when he would come home with over a thousand. From then on, I would try and find the bigger stakes games.

When he was finally back home for good, after graduating from college, I still had one year of high school left, leaving us in the same house again. We had a tradition. Every Sunday my brother would wake me up, and we would watch all the football games. It was the one day that our mom let us watch TV, without bothering us to clean up the kitchen or vacuum the living room. I woke up and it was 1:30. I thought, that’s weird, my brother didn’t wake me up for the 12 o’clock game. I walked down to the family room and asked him the scores from the earlier games and he was just sitting there irritably staring at the highlights. I guess he lost a little this weekend, but that’s what happens when you gamble. The problem was, those weekends starting coming more and more often, and my brother was always stressed out, between work and losing games. My parents had found out he was a gambling a little bit, and had asked me if it should be of concern. Figuring that he was still up overall, and he was alright, I covered for him and told them he was betting no more than a couple friendly bucks with his buddies. Now I regret covering up for him, and fabricating the fact that not only did he have his own bookie, but he was gambling in the thousands.

Thanksgiving break rolled around and I went home for the first time since I had left for college. I showed my brother the extra bills in my wallet, but he still wasn’t impressed; instead he sat me down and looked me straight in the face.

“Tan…I don’t want you gambling anymore, don’t try and play poker or bet on games to impress me.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t get it do you? It’s an addiction, a problem that I can now admit I have. I lost everything Tan.”

I learned over my first semester of college, my brother had checked into a program after losing all his work money, and cashing out all his funds. That talk really put me in check, and I told myself from then on, I would not be influenced by others, but to do my own thing, and follow my own path.