[REPOST (July 2013)] The Beer Fueled Poker Game that Almost Got Me Fired (Part 1 of 3)

This post originally appeared on LandmanLife.com in July of 2013. It has been very slightly edited to correct some grammatical errors and add a few minor details that were left out of the original story.

I had the pleasure of living in a Best Western in South Texas for the better part of a year. Our company paid for the rooms 7 days a week so that they saved some money on the hotel tax after 30 days when it becomes an extended stay residency. That made things easier on us since we didn’t have to move all of our stuff out every weekend. It was especially convenient for me since my home was only an hour and a half drive away. The hotel was about a mile from the courthouse and a few blocks further from our office so we could literally leave our hotel room and be at either location in 5 minutes. In my room I kept a long collapsible table that functioned as a backup desk and was usually covered with documents, pizza boxes, bills, etc. I also had an Xbox that I left in my room (Madden games were a common way to settle petty disputes amongst crewmembers) and usually left my shotgun and gun bag in the closet.

Throw in enough clean clothes to last me a week or two, a fridge full of beer, and all my shower stuff and I could travel pretty light whenever I was heading to or from home. At the crew’s peak I think there were about 7 of us staying at the hotel, the rest of it was booked up by Chesapeake rig hands, frackers, and a couple of other landmen. The hotel always reeked like a skunk had run through the hallways because people smoked so much weed in their rooms and there were always people drinking beers out by the pool. Not a bad place to stay during the week if you ask me.

…it would be pretty hard for somebody to move this collection of RC helicopters in and out every week, one of our coworkers was clearly into things that fly

Every Thursday night we had a poker game in the conference room at the hotel. Some weeks there would be five players and the next week we could have 20, it all depended on how many landmen headed home Thursday after work. Quite a few times I stayed in town for the night just to go to the poker game, if I didn’t have plans it was worth hanging around for. People would usually bring their own coolers full of beer or just ice for the liquor drinkers. Everyone would have quite a few drinks during the game and it could go pretty late at times. It was a $20 buy in with the second but final buy in at the halfway point (sometimes people would show up late from work, etc) and the pot could get up to a few hundred bucks with the winner taking 2/3 and the runner up getting 1/3. $300 is worth staying in town for, especially if you get to be wasted while earning it.

Traditionally the winner would buy everyone a round at the beer joint after the poker game if it wasn’t already too late, but that wasn’t written in stone. On occasion the winner would be too intoxicated to go to the beer joint, which was my case (not surprisingly) the only time I ever won. This particular night was not one of those occasions. We started the party around 2 that afternoon when everyone left the office and headed a half hour out of town to a skeet range on a landowner’s property. Since we had leased him and fast tracked the drilling of the first couple wells on his ranch (in order to get an agreement to build a massive frac pond there) he always invited us out to drink, shoot, and grill out. Sounds good to me!

Normally we went out to the skeet range on Wednesdays but it had been rained out the night before, so we wanted to get things started early out there and then get back for the poker game. Anyone that wasn’t a designated driver would throw back a good number of beers because it was always hot as fuck out there, and it was easier to find cold beer than a cold water. Since I had LASIK surgery I have not been able to shoot skeet (it’s a mental block more than physical I think) and usually didn’t waste any time trying, I would rather hang around and drink beers with all the crusty locals that showed up. So that’s exactly what I did. I don’t know why but everyone in this area drank Bud Light (I prefer Miller Lite personally) so when in Rome…I cranked a couple Bud Lights there while I ate some BBQ, and then cranked a couple more while we rode back to the hotel.

Since I had been sweating the whole time we were out at the skeet range, I went up to my room and took a quick shower (while I drank a shower beer of course). By the time I got downstairs to the conference room for the poker game my eyes were pretty glazed over. I know it was obvious because people kept saying “holy shit man are you still here? Your eyes are glazed over…maybe you should give me all of your chips.” If it’s possible to be too drunk to play cards, I was. So maybe their advice wasn’t totally unfounded, but regardless I did not take them up on that offer. Fast forward a few hours (I can’t be more specific because I kept drinking beers as I watched my stack of chips dwindle down to nothing) and I was shitfaced. I lost, and decided that sometimes poker is better as a spectator sport.

One of the girls on our crew emerged victorious and won $200 or so from the pot. Most of the people that had lost earlier in the game had already gone to the beer joint, so we decided to meet them there. I probably shouldn’t have been out in public but peer pressure is a bitch, and when I slurringly said I would go as long as I didn’t have to drive (like anyone would have let me…), I was dragged outside and shoved into the backseat of a car. At some point right before, or maybe on the way there, I blacked out. I have a faint memory of talking with some people from Alabama at the beer joint, and might have had “just one more beer” a few times, as a good landman always should. I think I was drinking Budweiser because I remember somebody talking about my “porkchop in a can.” The place closed down a little before 2 so we all headed back to the hotel. I have a fuzzy recollection of about 5 too many people being crammed into the backseat…someone may have been sitting on my lap.

My memory fails me by this point, so I’m going to have to relay the events as I heard them the next day. I woke up at 7:45am with my phone ringing. It was one of my coworkers (who had not been with us the night before), which was unusual for a Friday morning…or a Friday at all…or any morning, for that matter. When I answered he said “[primary broker’s name] is on his way to the office right now, he wants everyone there by the time he arrives. Get there ASAP!.” This naturally triggered a “holy shit what the fuck is he coming in for?” response. My coworker said he didn’t know the reason but our boss was pissed and he ended the call. As I sat up in bed I realized I was extremely hungover, my head was pounding and I felt like my vision was even somewhat blurred. Then I realized that my jeans were bunched up around my ankles (I still had on my boxers), and my boots were half off but still stuck in the legs of my jeans, hanging off the end of the bed. What a way to pass out, let me tell you. My swimsuit was laying next to me on the bed, dry. I thought that was strange, but my buddies filled me in later that afternoon. (End of Part 1)

Continue on to Part 2