January 09, 2010
Some of you whippersnappers may be too young or too new to remember the great Krantz-Ellipses duel of 2007. Well, have no fear, for I will tell you the glorious tale.
In the summer of 2007, Jay, Emil and I were all living in downtown Manhattan. They were playing cards and I was working as a distribution analyst for the retail chain Steve and Barryâ€™s. Jay and Emil were both longtime successful hsnl players, but that summer they both really started to take off. All of a sudden there was enough money online in our little apartment to play in some really big games.
While all this was going on, I would go to work. We were launching a major new product line in June and we ran a little behind schedule and as a result, a huge team from our office was going to head into our flagship Manhattan store after work one day and spend the night unpacking boxes and getting the store ready for launch. I was kinda looking forward to it; it seemed like a fun change of pace to go from staring at Excel to doing something as tangible as taking a store in disarray and prepping it for a major event. Plus it would be a good time to hang with friends from work. All in all, it sounded like fun.
What actually ended up happening was a hellish night of desperate scrambling and chaos. Have you ever pulled an all-nighter in college to finish an assignment youâ€™ve been putting off, only to realize around 4 a.m. that it will be physically impossible to finish in time and you are now completely and utterly fâ€”ked? This night was like that, except with a hundred other people who are exactly as panicked as you and for way higher stakes than a term paper on Voltaire. I remember making two separate round-trips to Jersey to scramble through dark warehouses for missing product and shoving dismembered mannequins into the back of a tractor-trailer with the callous, dispassionate stare of a serial killer. At around 8 a.m., after a 24 hour work day, I was sweaty, greasy, completely frustrated, and exhausted. A lot of my co-workers were still soldiering on in a zombielike state to finish this seemingly Sisyphean task, but I had had enough of planet Earth for one day and went back to our apartment and collapsed.
I woke up around 5 p.m., having slept through an official work day and being completely indifferent to having done so. It was at that very moment, after the most frustrating experience with the real working world that I had yet had, that Jay was sitting down in the next bedroom playing a 100/200 NL session against someone called Ellipses.
Over the next few hours I watched the sickest thing I had ever seen, either from over Jayâ€™s shoulder, or from my room when the sheer dollar amounts made me too nervous to be in the same room. I was scared I was going to cough and cause a $40k misclick. Before that day, Jay or Emilâ€™s best ever day was around $100k, which is an insane amount of money for a human to make in one day, especially from the eyes of a kid who just worked a 24-hour day at a $45,000-a-year job. At the end of the Ellipses session, Jay had won $470,000. 23.5 buy-ins. Just short of half a million dollars. More than ten years at my job.
When the session ended, there were just the three of us behind a monitor in Jayâ€™s room. Emil, Jay, and myself. None of us knew what to do. So, naturally, we ended up doing the only thing that anyone would do after winning nearly a half-million dollars.
We went to the movies.
Right after the session we went and saw, â€œKnocked Upâ€. Jay sat there grinning through the whole movie, but I donâ€™t remember him laughing once. I donâ€™t think Jay or Emil (who had a piece of the session) were even aware a movie was happening in front of them. When the credits rolled Jay was still in a daze. The first the he said after the movie was something like, â€œI canâ€™t believe we got called on that river!â€
By now it was late and I had to go work in a few hours, especially since I hadnâ€™t gone in at all that day. On the walk back to the apartment on a warm June night with the worldâ€™s two newest millionaires, I couldnâ€™t believe the difference in what was possible in the real world and what was possible in the poker world. While Jay and Emil were in an ecstatic haze, I was re-evaluating everything. The merits and failings of a â€œtraditionalâ€ life-style, the concepts of independence and security, the goals and values I had set for myself. To have seen this incredible session on the heels of the most draining work day I had ever had was an unforgettable experience and, looking back, a coincidence of astounding proportion.
A few hours later I was back at work. It was launch day, the biggest day of the year for us. Somehow my co-workers, in my absence, had scrambled something together and the launch, against all odds, was a smashing success. The first person I saw at work was my co-worker Josh. He looked like he had had a minuteâ€™s worth of sleep in a week.
â€œItâ€™s been crazy the last couple of days.â€ He said.
I replied, â€œYou have no idea.â€