Indeed, they are a constant nuisance for poker tournament winners who, right after cashing out, might as well bathe in maple syrup and then wait for the biting flies to swarm.
I've told this story before. A few years ago, when I worked as the public relations director for Binion's Horseshoe, I counted 23 persons to whom I lent money over an 18-month period.
Exactly one person paid me back. One. Then, that same person approached me again to borrow more money later (I gave in, figuring his credit was good).
Okay, I know it. I'm a softie. I'm an enabler. I'm a sucker.
I don't go to church. I'm not religious. But I do tithe the indigent souls of the world in my own special way. Some people give money to the United Way. Others contribute generously to the American Cancer Society.
Me? I give away money for free to broke poker players. If I keep on doing this, pretty soon I'm going to end up on the rail. Keno has a higher payback percentage.
Most of the "loans" I've made were $20 here and $100 there. As they say, add up all the dumb decisions and pretty soon you're talking about big money.
I've even been scammed by Vegas hustlers not once, but twice. One con man took me for 20 grand. Another charlatan rang my bell for $37,000. Ouch. That one really stung. I'll tell these incredible stories some time in the future, if readers here promise not to point and laugh at me next time I enter a poker room.
A man approached me. His face looked vaguely familiar. He started talking to me in such a friendly way that it made it seem as if we were longtime friends. All I could think to myself was, "Who the @#%&! is this guy?"
Then, the pitch came.
"Nolan, I really want you to know that I remember what you did for me six months ago at the Red Rock (Casino). I haven't forgotten about that $200 you loaned me."
Huh? Two hundred dollars? Suddenly, my interest was piqued. The man now had my full, undivided attention. Was this kindly stranger about to reach deep into his pocket and fork over a couple of Ben Franklins, making good on a long-forgotten loan?
"Yeah, I do seem to remember that $200," I said unconvincingly. Hoping to rekindle my jaded memory of just how in the hell I lent this railbird 200 bucks without even knowing his name (an alcohol-induced stupor perhaps?), the tactic intended to jog my faded memory worked.
"You remember?" he said. "You were sitting there in a cash game playing $2/$5 No-Limit and I asked you for a couple of hundred because you seemed to be a big winner. I ended up losing it all. But I did want you to know that I didn't forget about you."
What do you possibly say to a man like that? Thanks? Sounds good? Kick me in the ass, next time? Here you go - need some more cash?
"I do appreciate it." (I still had no idea what the man's name was). "Tell you what. If you make a score, I'll be here the next several days. I've been running kind of bad myself, so I could use the money," I said.
"Tell me about it," he replied.
Uh-oh, I thought to myself. Alarm bells were going off. Here it comes. This guy was about to throw me a curveball and he might as well have been Greg Maddux doing warmups.
"Could you spare another hundred?" the man asked with a totally straight face.
"A hundred? You've got to be kidding. You already owe me two bills. How can I give you a hundred?"
"Yeah, but you know I'm good for it."
This is the stage at which any credit bureau would just write off the loan as "bad debt." There was no way I was going to get paid back.
After refusing his bid for a c-note bold in what was turning into a testy discussion, the man asked for less money on his second pitch. Next, I saw his slider. "How about $20?" he asked.
"What are you going to do with $20?" Inquiring minds wanted to know. Seriously.
"I've got to eat."
I reached into my pocket and pulled out $10. I figured ten dollars was well worth the cost of getting rid of the bum. Of course, I later realized my mistake -- that I had just opened myself up for a future approach. It's sort of like feeding pigeons. Once you throw down some bread crumbs, they never go away.
So today, I vow to make a new pledge. I make it in front of many witnesses. My name is Nolan. I am a sucker. I need help. I am now in recovery. From now on, when asked for a loan -- I will just say no.
PS: This goes for all backing arrangements in satellites, tournaments and side action.
-- Nolan Dalla
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