Saturday, January 12, 2013

So long, and thanks for all the fish*

From time to time, somebody asks me whether I plan to stay in Las Vegas for the rest of my life. My answer has always been, no, I don't plan to stay, but I also don't plan to leave. There is no plan. I would tell anybody who asked me that question that I will leave if and when something happens to makes me think that I should live somewhere else. Otherwise, I'll stay.

Well, something finally happened to convince me that it was time to live somewhere else: I fell in love.

This won't exactly come as news to my readers, unless you're brain-dead. (In which case, congratulations on just being able to read. Quite an accomplishment.) I met Cardgrrl in February of 2009. By July of that year I knew it was something serious. During a visit I made to her in Washington, D.C., in August of 2010, I finally became convinced (1) that she was never going to move to Las Vegas (as I had not-so-secretly hoped), and (2) that I wanted to be a lot nearer to her than 2400 miles, and (3) that meant that I would have to move east.

That plan, however, entailed some serious logistical difficulties. The cost of living in Washington is much higher than it is in Vegas, and I would have to meet those increased costs without 50 poker rooms in my back yard.

By happy coincidence, around the same time some consulting work related to my formal education and my pre-poker career sort of fell into my lap, and I nurtured the source so that I would start getting more and more such projects. (I mentioned this work twice in the blog, here and here, just to drop a couple of hints that change was in the air, and to see if anybody was paying attention. As far as I could tell, nobody noticed that those hints signified that a major change was underway.)

Even if you missed those clues, surely long-time readers must have noticed that my frequency of posting dropped fairly dramatically year by year from the high-water marks in 2008 and 2009 to the present. Some of that was due to the simple fact that after a few thousand posts on one subject, it gets progressively harder to find new things to say, new topics to write about. But the drop-off was due at least as much to the fact that as time went on, I was spending more time on the growing side business and less on poker. Poker has gone from being my sole source of income when I first arrived in Vegas in the summer of 2006 to being only a small part of it in 2012.

Cardgrrl also met me halfway. Early last year she decided that she wanted to try living somewhere besides D.C., established some criteria for herself by which to judge potential target cities, and started exploring the possibilities. (Vegas was never a contender.) By about June, she had settled on Asheville, North Carolina. After several exploratory trips there over the next few months, she finally made the move into an Asheville apartment at the beginning of November, and is now having a house built in the city.

No, Asheville isn't halfway between here and D.C., but it does have a much lower cost of living--comparable to that of Las Vegas. It's also a place that I would rather live than D.C. I consider our nation's capital a nice place to visit, but not to live, for a variety of reasons that I won't bore you with. Her move made it easier for me to pull the trigger on my own.

A few hours ago I returned from a week in Asheville--my first time there. It's a beautiful city, set in the midst of some of the prettiest land in the country, even in the dead of winter. Take a look at a map, and you'll see that it's surrounded by the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, the Cohutta National Forest, the Sumter National Forest, the Cherokee National Forest, plus a comparable number of state parks and forests. Heck, the famous Blue Ridge Parkway/National Heritage Area runs right through the city; turn onto it, and 30 seconds later you feel like you're in the middle of a vast, wooded wilderness.

Biking should be, um, interesting in Asheville. As far as I can tell both from maps and from driving around in it for several days, there is not a single straight or flat street anywhere. Every street is winding and sloped.

Most of this visit was spent apartment-hunting. On Tuesday I found the best prospect--an upstairs unit in a well-maintained old mansion converted into a four-plex of two-bedroom apartments (one bedroom to sleep in, one to be used as an office) in the rich part of town, so I can pretend to be wealthy. It's about four miles due north of where Cardgrrl's house will be. On Wednesday I signed a lease; the place is mine starting February 1.

This is sooner than I had anticipated. As of a week ago, I was thinking it would be more like March or April when I would make the move. But things change, and I decided I needed to just do it. I'm not yet sure exactly when I'll go. I can't get everything planned and arranged to leave here by the first of the month. It will probably end up being more like February 10th to 15th time frame. Heck, I don't even know how I'll move--hire a moving company, drive a U-Haul myself, or maybe try to UPS anything that won't fit in my car. We'll see. (The new car, by the way, was an integral part of this evolving big plan, though I didn't tell you that at the time. The old car could not possibly have been trusted on a cross-country trip, nor could it carry much stuff.)

Anyway, the Las Vegas chapter of my life (actually the second Las Vegas chapter of my life, as I was here for a couple of years back in 1980-1982) is now coming rapidly to a close. With it, this blog will also mostly fade away. I won't shut it down completely. I'm sure that once in a while I'll have a story to tell, an opinion to share, a news item to comment on, a rant to get off my chest.

But poker is hard to come by in North Carolina. The only poker room that is less than a full day's drive is Harrah's Cherokee. Cardgrrl and I went there last night to scope out the place. It's about a 70-minute drive each way when there is clear weather and no traffic. The poker room for now has no live dealers, just a bunch of Poker Pro electronic tables, though they are in the process of training dealers, and have a WSOP circuit event scheduled to be there in April.

How about online? Well, we'll see. I've never been as successful at the online game as the live game, nor enjoyed it as much, though my Josie-inspired brief orgy of online tournaments in August raises the possibility that I could do better at it if I really tried.

The upshot is that I think it's inevitable that poker will be reduced to being a small, occasional part of my life and attention, and that as a result blog posts here will be few and far between. I will probably also greatly cut back on the amount of poker-related blog and Twitter reading that I do. I can't continue to saturate my reading with poker when I can't go out and play it. That would drive me crazy, I think.

I am sad to be leaving a city I've come to like very much, and to consider my home. I'm sad to be leaving behind the friends I've made in my 6 1/2 years here, and to no longer be in a place where friends and readers from across the country and around the world come to visit on a regular basis. I'm nervous about trekking across the country to a place that I really know very little about, and to be making my home in a state where I never had any reason to think I'd live, where I've only set foot once before last week--and that was just in the Charlotte airport during a layover--and where I only know two people besides Cardgrrl (Shamus and his wife live a couple hours away). I'm bummed that I won't have a ridiculous richness of choice of poker rooms running 24/7, regularly stocked with fish in a way that is the envy of the trout and salmon industries, with which I can scratch the poker itch whenever it hits me. I'm slightly nauseated at the prospect of having to face cold winters and humid, mosquito-filled summers again, after thinking that I had left them behind forever. I'm distressed that I won't be able to pop up to see my parents and my sister in Salt Lake City for weekend visits every few months, as has become my practice.

But rising above all of that is that I am excited to be able to be near the one I love, and to find out what our relationship can be when we can see each other on a regular basis. That is more important to me than what state my address is in, more important than the weather, more important than being near the Vegas friends I've made, more important than poker--more important than anything else. (As Jesus taught, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he move to North Carolina to be near his girlfriend." Or something like that.) That realization makes me confident that this move is the right thing to do. It's time for one chapter of my life to end, and for another to begin.

What story will that chapter tell? Hell if I know. But it's time to turn the page and find out.

*It seems hard to believe that anyone intelligent enough to be a reader of this blog would not know the pop-culture origin of this title. But just in case there's a lame-o out there, see here.

Addendum, January 12, 2013 

For Cardgrrl's perspective on this, see here.


Spot said...

You know I'm happy for the two of you. And you know why.

Scott said...

So long and thanks for all the posts.

I've really enjoyed reading your blog over the last few years (I forget when I first started reading it).

Good luck to you and Cardgrrl, I hope it all works out.

Unknown said...

Good for you, PG. Now you can live the REAL dream - best of luck, sir!


Lance said...

Congratulations and an early welcome to the great state of North Carolina! :-)

Anonymous said...

Best of luck from a long time reader.

Maybe one of your final posts could be advice to out-of-town poker player on how to maximize their poker winnings during a 3-7 day visit to Vegas.

Again, Best of luck to you and I wish you a life full of happiness.

Andy said...

Congrats and best of luck. As a soon to be fellow North Carolinian, maybe I'll run into you at Cherokee sometime.

sevencard2003 said...

I will probably also greatly cut back on the amount of poker-related blog and Twitter reading that I do. I can't continue to saturate my reading with poker when I can't go out and play it. That would drive me crazy, I think.

hmm, good to know that my blog dont say much about poker then. I will really miss u. Losing u as a friend, same time as Josie and Claudia wont make my life easy.

FlushDraww said...

If you do not post this we will make it a private communication between the two of us and you can email me any response at I do not want anything I might say to upset the one you love.

Trust me when I tell you I know what it means to follow your heart across the miles as I have done so on more than one occasion, but in your case your giving up a professional poker career in order to make this move. Your giving up setting your own hours, being your own boss living a life that many dream about. Are you sure this is what you really want to do?

It is not that she is not worth it, as true love is worth anything, believe me I know of what I speak, but you have indicated her relunctance to move too far from her, what I assume, to be a comfort zone.

Is there any chance that this fact and what you will be giving up because of it will not bring about a certain degree of resentment on your part further down the lane in the not to near future. If this is a possibility then you need to address this with yourself and with her. Resentment can kill what could be so beautiful and I would hate to see this happen. Make sure the issue has been looked at on all sides and then up and down once again. The woman you love may be worth giving up the world for in your eyes and if that is the case God bless you both and I wish you a life time of happiness, but if there is even a chance that you may feel resentment because of what you have given up in your own personal life to make this happen I implore you to reevaluate the what, where, and when.

If the love is strong between you both why is she not willing to relocate to your world. You are willing to do this for her so in my thought process she should be willing to do this for you. Would she risk losing you if you insisted on this and if so that opens up a whole new bagful of questions.

What about NJ? On the coast, nearish Atlantic City. Not too too far from her home turf and still give you the ability to pursue your carreer or have you become burned out as a professional poker player and you yourself have decided you do not want any more of it?

Whatever you do I hope you have a happy and enriched life and live happily ever after. Take care.

matt tag said...

Good luck on your next chapter. Go find some home games in your new town that CardGrrl and you can enjoy together. Hell, start one if you have to

Anonymous said...

Congrats, and thanks for all effort put into one of the best blogs on the web.
Asheville is one of the best destinations on the East Coast. Great vibe to a growing, evolving community.
Cherokee will eventually have live dealers, and you should thrive in this fishbowl. Good luck and welcome to NC.

Pete P. Peters said...

Congrats and good luck, Bob. And welcome to the East Coast!

Anonymous said...

Hey Grump,

Long time reader, second time poster. I figured something was up for a while with you and Cardgrrl... Best of luck to you. We are out here in Southwest Virginia, similar to Asheville country! It is slow living, but you can get used to it. This area is probably the furthest away from bona fide casinos in the country. That will take getting used to also. One hint - don't jump on the UNC Tarheels bandwagon!

April said...

Congrats and good luck! I moved to California for love and while it was an adjustment being away from all my friends and from home, so far so good. :) Just remember it takes on average a year of living in a new place to feel comfortable. You'll likely have some rough spots at start but just remember they're totally normal (change is hard!) and focus on why you moved. I've never been to Ashville but everyone says its a lot like Austin, which means it must be pretty darn awesome. Enjoy the adventure!

Anonymous said...

FlushDraww has some very good points. Have you considered the fact that this relationship is only successful because it is long distance? Will she be able to put up with your misanthropic nature on a full time basis?

darrelplant said...

So sorry I came to your blog for the first time only in the past year or so. Have a fantastic time in Asheville!

Does this mean you're going to be less grumpy? :)

NT (aka Cardgrrl) said...

I'm so glad you're taking the big leap! Life in Asheville will be a new adventure for both of us. Yay!


The Neophyte said...

Wow that's quite a change from Vegas but Asheville is a gorgeous area to live. Yeah there is a dearth of poker rooms around there but there are other advantages and hey money isn't everything is it? Good luck and I'm sorry you won't be in Vegas now that I'm planning a trip there.

Lindy99 said...

Thank you Kind Sir for all the entertainment and information you have provided over the years. I wish u the best of luck going forward!

Nsidestrate said...

I've silently read your blog for years (since the Cannery debacle) and have derived significant enjoyment from your many posts. I'm sure I'm representative of a vast number of readers who enjoyed reading your posts without ever providing any feedback. Its clear you are a thoughtful guy who has undoubtedly planned well and I wish you and cardgrrl all the best in the future.

@Cajundragon said...

I moved to Vegas from Asheville three years ago. I think you will enjoy Asheville. I have a bud there who runs a nice home game and you can get to Cherokee in 54 min flat if you don't take the curvaceous way. Your hourly will be higher as you get to see more hands per hour & don't ever have to tip the digital dealer. I also think people call off a bit lighter when they just press a button. glgl


zippyboy said...

Way to go, Bob! It's been a long time coming and Cardgrrl's a classy lady.

I anticipate a Baby Grump post coming next year with pics in your bike's baby basket. If it's a boy, you can name him Ace, or maybe Jack (King might be too pretentious). If a grrl, then Kara?

THETA Poker said...

Congrats on taking the plunge. Life is full of uncertainties, and pursuit of happiness trumps almost everything. At least for me, it's fitting that your blog "ends" this way; it was Cardgrrl's blog that led me to yours.

P.S. - I'm planning on starting a poker blog soon, and I only hope to be a tenth as entertaining as you've been. Thanks for all the great posts.

Memphis MOJO said...

GL with your move. I think it will work out great and you'll never look back.

Sauza said...

Good luck to you, but be careful. There is a Cracker Barrel over on Tunnel Road that YOU DON'T want to get back-roomed at!

Seriously though, you'll enjoy the area. I have a brother in nearby Weaverville who just loves the area. Don't be a stranger.

Anonymous said...

Long time lurker thanking you for all the insight and laughs you provided us Grump.

First Vegas Rex, then Josie, now you.
All we're left with is Train Wreck Tony. So sad.
I'll still be checking back hoping for the occasional update

Rakewell said...

Thanks to all for your good wishes and kind words.

FlushDraww: I appreciate your concerns. However:

1. I am and will continue to set my own hours and be my own boss.

2. I understand and respect her reasons for not wanting to live in Vegas. As for what those reasons are, as well as her reasons for choosing Asheville, that's for her to make public if she feels like doing so, not for me. In my post, I tried to stick to what are my truths, not hers (except to the extent that she has already been public about them). But I will tell you that nowhere near A.C. would make either one of us happy.

3. No matter what comes of our relationship, I will not resent her for this move. It is entirely my decision. I make it freely and willingly and after more contemplation than I have put into nearly any other decision in my life. The worst that can happen is that we try it and it doesn't work out. What's to resent about that?

4. In the worst case scenario, I can always move back here. Nothing I'm doing is irreversible.

Anon: Of course I've considered the possibility that we've only continued this long because of being so far apart. This move is an experiment, not a commitment. We may blossom into something even better than we now have, or we may crash and burn, finding ourselves incompatible in ways that aren't evident at a distance. But how is one to know without trying? As to whether she can put up with me on a sustained basis, well, that's one of the things I guess we'll have to find out.

Darrelplant: There are archives, you know!

Zippy: Sorry to dash your hopes of reproduction, but that won't be happening. We each might get a cat, but that's as far as the parenthood thing will go.

itchyskippy said...

Going to miss reading your post Grump, especially everytime I get dealt 2/4 offsuit.

Wishing you both much happiness in your new adventure. I've always thought life was like a series of suitcases we fill with memories as we move along. Some are big, some are small, some are rarely opened. I hope your new suitcase is extra large and you fill it with joy.

David Westbay said...

Best wishes to you both! Safe travels on the move. Maybe we will meet again at a future WPBT?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you already know this, but North Carolina is large state. There is A LOT of difference between Charlotte & Asheville. Asheville is closer to Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina than it is to Charlotte. WELCOME TO THE DEEP SOUTH. Y'all will love it here!

Anonymous said...

What a great blog post title, it fits so well.

I think Asheville is a very cool place and I hope you'll take advantage of the many events that happen year round there. Maybe we'll run into each other at the Warren Haynes Christmas Jam.

Anonymous said...

As a long-time lurker and avid follower, I am going to miss your insightful, thoughtful blog. As someone said, first VegasRex and now you. We certainly run in different circles and surely we would have only met as an odd circumstance, but it would have been my pleasure to have met you. You're moving to a beautiful part of the world for glorious reasons and I wish you nothing but success and happiness with all your endeavors.

Dave S.

Rob said...

Best wishes, Bob (someone else mentioned your name in their comment, so I assume it's know how I am with pseudonyms). I hope this works out great for the both of you.

I will miss your blog posts, which were so entertaining and truly some of the best poker writings I've read, and also miss giving you the opportunity to bluff me out of pots.

I'll also miss the feedback I get on my own blog, if you keep to your word about avoiding poker blogs (to the extent that mine is a poker blog).

I'll miss your poker-related tweets as well, and your wicked sense of humor.

All of which is worth it if this will make you happier, as I suspect it well.

Thanks for giving the tip on this at our most recent session, otherwise I would have been shocked by your post.

I'm with some of the others, find or create a good home game there in NC. Also, perhaps you can become politically active and lobby for more local poker rooms there. Also, perhaps if you have no alternative, you'll improve your online game and have that to blog about.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Am I mistaken, but aren't you two adults? You're making the sacrifice and moving to the other side of the country. Please explain to your readers why you're not living together?

Go ahead and take the plunge.

lightning36 said...

Good luck on your new adventure. The only thing you can do in these type of situations is give it a try. There are no guarantees in anything in life.

But oh my gosh -- who will now be the in-town person to keep TBC in line?

Bob@3RP said...

Good luck on the life change, Grump. And thanks for all the poker anecdotes over the years. They've been a joy to read.

Missingflops said...

Bob, thanks for all the content you've put out for us readers during the years. Having given it a try myself, I know that keeping something like this up requires a lot of effort. I really appreciate your willingness to share things with us all.

Best of luck to you and Cardgrrl. I hope things work out in a very happily ever after fashion for you two, you certainly deserve it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there Grump. This is Stephanie. I am so happy for you and my girl. I am crying both tears of sadness and tears of joy as I type this; sad that I will no longer be reading your blog each day but also so incredibly overjoyed that you will be on the east coast spending quality time with one of my favorite people. I wish both of you incredible happiness and a lifetime of wonderful memories.

Anonymous said...

Good for you Grump - it takes a lot of faith to do what you are doing.
You can always find poker somewhere but love is not nearly as easy to find as we all know.
You both seem well-grounded and smart and I wish you both the best in your futures.
Think with your head and your heart and you can never go wrong.

DrPauly said...

Congrats! Asheville is an beautiful little town.

Love often forces you to make decisions you normally wouldn't do otherwise. I left Vegas and moved for love reasons as well. Best wishes to both of you.

sigszilla said...

Good luck to you good Sir! I have enjoyed reading your blog for a couple of years now and have enjoyed it greatly. All the best to you in your new adventure!

Anonymous said...

Hey man, good for you. I will miss your blog. I hope you two do well. I don't think someone would want to keep grinding 1-2 NL forever. Burnout is inevitable right? And Vegas does seem to lack soul. Now you are going to the opposite type of place. Ok, good.

You guys didn't consider Florida? Aren't the games good there?

Vookenmeister said...

I'm late to the game as I was off in Vegas and Tony of all people was the one who told me you're moving.

a few quick comments:

1) North Carolina is beautiful and friendly. My wife played basketball at Greensboro College and we've both discussued moving there as an option. I think you will find it extremely hospitable and friendly.

2) I love the reference to Douglas Adams. Easily my favorite author of all time. I blame him for offbeat ever present sense of humor.

3) my eyes watered reading this. I am such a sap. I am very happy for the two of you and wish you the best. I didn't meet my wife till I was 35. I'll never run as good as the day I met her.

- paul (vook)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the many hours i had the pleasure of reading your blog. I wish you both all the best in your life together.


JT88Keys said...

Good for you, Grump. I hope you find exactly what you're hoping to find...a happily ever after.

I'm a little sad that I didn't discover your blog until after my disposable income had dropped to the point where I could no longer make annual sojourns to the desert. I had looked forward to the day when I could get schooled by you in a mixed game or stacked in a cash game.

The poker blogger landscape just keeps getting more and more bleak.

DLK said...

Bob -- Congratulations, and please stay in touch.

Ravi never fails to ask about you.


Big-O said...

Good for you Grump.
I followed your blog getting here from vegasrex and the Cannery story and I've had many hours of enjoyment from your writing.
Thanx again.

OhCaptain said...

Good luck! New chapters are fun, exciting and scary at first. Love is always a good reason. I haven't moved because my love was here :)

All the best!

rice moorehead said...

Nice work buddy!

Ashville is a really cool city (I grew up in Knoxville and went there a bunch).

The hills will KILL you for a while. Then you will either give up riding or become a monster. I've never ridden on it, but apparently the Blue Ridge Parkway is an incredible ride.

Enjoy life/love with a sweetheart.
Best of luck to the both of you!

Koala said...

Good for you Bob. It was a pleasure to meet you and spend time with you last July. Hope everything works out for you and your lady.