I’m lying on a sofa. Dead. The year is 2014 and our poker group is in Barcelona for the annual EPT. Some flashes of drinking vodka with Ziigmund and Isildur come to my mind’s eye. I feel like throwing up.
We had a big villa, where us the 8 pro players stayed. One of them, Mr. JN rampages to the living room. Annoyingly upbeat: “Hey, how are you”
He can fucking see how I’m doing.
Now to be honest I don’t remember anymore how this conversation went. I just remember where it ended up:
“How fast did you do 400m in our last spectacle?” he asked.
In our poker group there’s at least once a year the “spectacle” which is a two to three-day lasting sport camp where we do all sorts of different sports, and obviously bet on them. It’s an awesome event.
Now I’m aware that Mr.JN is a notorious prop-better – and I have learned from earlier experiences that this conversation can go very wrong, very fast – so I reply a bit hesitantly:
“Hmm, guess 55 seconds?”
“BET, BET BET BET. I BET ANYTHING ON THAT” He starts to yell maniacally.
“I mean, I’m not sure. It might’ve been 57 seconds too”, I try.
“I really, really want to bet on this. I’m willing to give you any odds you like” -JN.
He’s way too confident. Pull back, pull back fast.
“No, no. I probably just misremembered, I reply.
“C’mon, you have to give me action after making an outrageous claim like that” – JN
“Look at me – I can’t even move,” I say, pointing to myself.
“I’ll give you 1 to 3000” – JN
“I bet my 30 000 euros against your 10 euros that you won’t run under 57 seconds”, he says.
“Oh, for fucks sake” I reply. Knowing now full certain that I did not run 55 seconds last time, and that I’m going to take this bet. As a rule of thumb: when man is willing to give you one to three thousand – you give the man action.
“What’s the timeframe?” I ask.
“Within two days” he replies.
We shake hands. Mr.JN chuckles and looks at me bit sadistically:
“You know you’re never able to run it at that time. I just want to see you try in the state that you’re in”
I never ran the bet. I couldn’t give Mr.JN the satisfaction to see me suffer. I suffered enough seeing him grin while I gave him the 10-euro note.
However. Ever since that date Mr.JN began a routine that repeats itself a couple of times a year when we’re playing at our local casino. It’s a big speech about my claim with punchline being that he is still keeping the 10 euro note in his wallet.
Once I noticed the routine, I saw my chance: sometime in the future I’m forced to hear the story again, but with the story comes an opportunity. If I play my cards right – I might be able to get action on the same bet again, and now I’m in a very different kind of shape than I was back then. Not with the same odds, that would be unethical. But some action – if not to make money at least to stop Mr.JN’s possibility to bring the subject up.
And sure enough, the opportunity came. A player from our usual live poker group had organized a nice evening with good food, ice hockey match, and to top of the evening: poker.
We’re playing and the topic of discussion turns into sports. I know we’re close. The normal pattern of this conversation is to go to betting and from there it’s extremely easily turned into prop-betting. I’m looking at Mr.JN, he gives me a look back and grins.
This is it.
“You remember that 400m dash bet…” he starts.
I let him go for a bit and just as he’s about to finish his routine I stop him and ask:
“So, would you be willing to give me action on that bet again?”
Fuck, why haven’t I trained? I bet I could’ve gotten the same deal for tonight.
For a moment I imagine scenario where I snap the bet, tear my collar shirt open revealing a training shirt underneath it. Then take my running shoes out of my backpack and explain how my vodka soda was just a soda and that I’m actually sober, prepared and ready to run – right now. People would be cheering: “J D S, J D S” as Mr.JN’s face would grow ever paler.
The kick of very real vodka in my glass and realization that I’m very quietly chanting my own name brings me back to the present.
Who the fuck chants their own name?
“Let’s make it a bit more realistic – I obviously can’t run the bet right now” I say.
“I can give you one to one for a lifelong bet” he replies.
“How would that work?” I ask.
“You send me the amount you want to bet right now and if you ever run 400m under 57 seconds I’ll send back double” he says.
That seems insanely good bet for me. Too good to be true. I take another look at Mr.JN: he seems calm and sure. How he can be so sure? I know that he’s extremely smart – possibly the smartest man I have as a friend. Does he know something I don’t? I’m getting suspicious now – extremely suspicious. I turn to another player at the table, I know that he used to do 400m hurdles when he was younger.
“You think it’s possible for me to run 400m under 57 seconds?” I ask.
The other player, extremely drunk, nodding on the table in and out of consciousness:
“Anyone can run 400m under 54 seconds.”
Not that assuring. I’m not sure anymore. How can I not be sure? This is something that I’ve planned to do for years now. Of course, I haven’t actually ran the 400m – not once through all these years.
I raddle with my insecurities for a while. Saying to Mr.JN that I have to think about it, asking other players on the table if I should take the bet or not.
“Of course, you have to take it – it’s good for you”, Pampo shouts from the other side of the table.
What does he know anyway? Fuck fuck fuck. He’s probably right but why does it feel like I’m somehow getting played here? Is this a RUSE? It has to be.
“Look, I tell you what: if you send the money now you can have a week to decide whether the bet is on or not,” Mr. JN says.
My god,this is the most elaborate ruse I’ve ever seen.
Is he betting that I don’t go running within a week, forget about it and the bet stays on? I must admit; it is a possibility. Look at him: all calm evil genius who’s trying to lure his next victim in with his news-reader type of voice. How can he do this for me? And do I fall for it?
I open my stars account
Player transfer, 5k EUR – I’m not willing to lose more to this evil mastermind. Send to JN’s account.
Transfer confirmed – The bet is on.
36-hours later I do my first try and the clock stops at 58,36. I call to JN, and despite me sending screenshots of the time he won’t believe it. I tell him that the bet stays on and he says that he’s coming to the track next time with his own tracking devices. I welcome him with open arms. The certainty in his voice has disappeared. All is good.
P.S. I haven’t trained after that one run firstly because managed to break one of my ribs in my MMA training and secondly because Mr.JN has been hinting that he might be willing to bet more if we change the time to 55,5s… We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted when I go under 57s.