“Poker players who chase straights and flushes
arrive in limos but go home in buses.” — Anonymous

I heard two poker road trip stories this week that I have to share with you, both about players who are way too tight with their money. I have changed the names to protect the cheapskates.

One of them involved my friend Rick, who told me a story from ten years ago, when he and another St. Louisan named Wayne both won a tournament that gave them entry into a World Poker Tour event in Reno, Nevada. In addition to that $5,000 buy-in, they also each received $6,000 in cash for travel and other expenses.

Rick booked a round-trip flight for about $400, but Wayne was so cheap that, instead of buying an airline ticket, he bought a round-trip Greyhound bus ticket for under $200. Okay, he was saving money — but it wasn’t like he couldn’t afford it, what with the $6,000 in cash he’d just been given. Even worse, the trip by bus took almost four days, because it wasn’t an express — it made stops in every little podunk town between St. Louis and Reno — and if you believe time is money, Wayne was wasting a lot of it. All to save a couple of hundred bucks.

Here’s the best part of the story. After busting out of the tournament relatively quickly, Wayne had a couple of days before his bus ride home. He spent that time playing in cash games, where he managed to lose all of the rest of the travel cash he’d brought with him. How’d you like to have sat next to him on the four-day bus ride east?

The other story involves two friends, Adam and Gary, who went to Tunica, Mississippi, and shared a room in a motel where the rooms aren’t even $100/night. They knew each other very well but had never traveled together before. After their first day of playing in some cash games, they drove back to the room and went to bed. It wasn’t long before Adam started snoring, which kept Gary awake. Gary is a cranky guy to begin with, and the fact that he couldn’t sleep didn’t make things better. Before long, Gary threw a pillow at Adam on the other bed, waking him up and telling him to stop snoring — as if Adam was doing it on purpose. This happened a half-dozen times during the night, so neither of them got much shuteye.

In the morning, they left the room early, pissed off at each other and not well-rested — a bad way to start a long day of playing poker. Still, they each made some money, and when they finally went back to the room that night, Adam started bitching about the snoring again. Gary grabbed the pillows off his bed and told Adam he was going to sleep in the bathtub — which he did for the next few nights, too.

Now, these are both middle-aged men, neither of whom can fit comfortably in a bathtub, so when they told me told the story and I pictured the scene, I burst out laughing. They asked what was so funny, and I pointed out that they each were playing in poker games with several hundred dollars in front of them — and had bankrolls of thousands in their pockets — but they’re both such penny-pinchers outside of the game that the thought of going to the front desk and asking for another room (at under $100/night) wasn’t even considered.

Being tight at a poker table because you don’t want to risk a lot of money is one thing. Being stuffed into a bathtub or a bus seat because you’re too cheap to find other accommodations is ridiculous.