Time to roll the dice in 08 | AspenTimes.com

Time to roll the dice in 08

Meredith C. CarrollAspen, CO Colorado

I havent really resolved to do anything different in 2008 other than make a concerted effort to be less rigid and more impractical (I think I can, I think I can). And change, like looking at recent pictures of Michael Jacksons face, isnt necessarily supposed to hurt. So Im thinking that when the clock strikes midnight on Tuesday a career change might do me some good.My ambitions arent outrageous. I have no itch to be famous, even if not having to repeat my name, Social Security number, date of birth and mothers maiden name every time I call the insurance company to inquire about the status of a claim because even the automated phone robot lady knows who I am would be a bonus. And I dont need a ton of money, although just enough to buy extra shelves for my closet would be simply grand. No, Ive got my sights set low (yet high on the impracticality scale): I want to become a professional poker player.Never mind that Ive never played poker, nor am I a great, or even good card player (except for gin, when I compete against anyone in elementary school, and Old Maid, as long as the deck has been played enough so that the creases on the Old Maid card make it easily identifiable). But it seems like poker is like the reality show of careers. Just about anyone can have one.Admittedly, gambling has never really been my thing. Every few years when the zeroes in the jackpot outnumber my fingers I might pick up a lottery ticket if I happen to be loitering in a gas station or supermarket. Ive never won, but at least my plans are solidly in place for when I do. (Closet shelves here I come.)Six years ago I went to Las Vegas for a weekend and decided ahead of time that the apocalypse would not be triggered if I lost $300. While waiting for my luggage in McCarran airport, I got a $30 return on the quarter I deposited in a slot machine. I pretty much figured that was where my luck started and ended, so I was happy to throw in the towel and just hang out for the duration.My friends had different plans for me, and quitting while I was ahead when we were barely a few hours into the weekend was not among them. So in between visits to Siegfried & Roys white tiger exhibit and the Liberace museum, I spent some time at the five-dollar blackjack tables.As it turns out, like winning the lotto, blackjack also isnt really my thing. I figured out all kinds of ways to get to 21. But it seemed that not everyone or anyone at the blackjack tables liked the way I went about it. And I dont know who I thought I was kidding, but I was never going to let myself lose $300, or even $10 for that matter. If I was up five bucks, Id stop. If I lost five bucks, I play until I got it back and then Id stop. I ended the weekend ahead by the 120 quarters Id won in the airport.The thing is, Ive always hated needlessly losing money. When we were kids, my sister used to bet me a penny and when I lost, shed taunt me by saying pennies were going out of circulation and the penny I gave her was really worth, like, a dollar and would someday be priceless. Id cry until my dad gave me a penny to shut me up.Sure, there are some other challenges to my professional poker playing plan. For instance, Im not really a buffet kind of girl and cant see myself living in Las Vegas. Theres zero chance Id live in Atlantic City (name one native New Yorker who would live in New Jersey). And thered have to be no smoking allowed in my poker games because I cant sleep if the smell of cigarettes lingers in my hair.But despite the geographic and smoke challenges, the fact that Im a sore money loser and I dont actually know how to play poker, I still think this career change could be big for me. I can see myself shuffling cards with the gang from Oceans 11 through 13. I can lie through my teeth undetected. I can stay up all night. I can drink for free morning, noon or night. I can stack poker chips neatly. I can do free shots in the morning, at noon or night at the same time that I stack poker chips neatly.My eyes practically well with tears just thinking of my parents watching me on TV vying for the coveted World Series of Poker bracelet. Their daughter a professional athlete. (Hey, its on ESPN so it must be a sport, right? Of course, ESPN also gives video games its very own section on their website complete with headlines, galleries and rankings.)The good news is that Im being realistic in my impractical endeavor. If the poker thing doesnt work out for me in 2008, Im already planning on becoming a professional bingo player in 2009. Because thats a game where I have some real skill.E-mail questions or comments to meredithccarroll@hotmail.com.