Florence – Fancy Florence

We’re awake a lot earlier than I would like.

But, for the sake of not having to book another bus, guess what?

I am awake a lot earlier than I would like.

Bec has tasked me with the equally as important as it is, simple task of fetching the coffees to give our morning a kick start. Being that I am in a walking comatosed state, I barely dress for the occasion.

When I say that, I don’t mean dress to suit the occasion.

I mean, that I barely got dressed.

Undies are optional, so I opt out of them this time.
Track pants are the comfiest, so that goes on.
My thongs are the easiest foot wear, so that happens.
Lastly, my singlet is on the top of the dirty washing pile, so being that it is the closest thing that resembles clothing for my torso, I slap it on, stains and all.

To Florence-29

I exit the hostel, bee-lining for the coffeeshop, the sun in my eyes, burning through to the depths of my optical nerve, I look like a vampire-zombie, hobbling the streets of Rome in my retarded combination of clothes, angling my arm in all different kinds of way to work out which part of the limb is going block the most light out.

Nothing is successful.

Today is the first official day of the tourist season, ad the concierge guy tells us as we are leaving. Good to know, but it kinda sucks. We have been loving touring the world without the hoards of tourists in tow. We tuck into breakfast, and then I have to some how sort out my bag so we can leave. I’ve got this really good system for making sure that I can find everything in my bag when we get to a new location.

Its called: Empty everything in the bag on the floor and spread it everywhere.

To Florence-28

Its a method that Bec isn’t so fond of, but this is why she has her means of organising her bag, and I do mine my way. Admittedly, the times when I need to know where something in particular is, its hard (very hard), but its a system that hasn’t let me down yet. We load up, and make our way to the bus. This time, we are with a group called Flixbus.

These guys are that good.

They are two stories, and most importantly, they are lime green. They already have Bec as a lifetime customer purely for being green. We pile onto the bus, and we are on our way. Being that there is wifi on the bus, Bec ends up on the phone to Rochelle, and gives her the quick update on where we have been and what we have been doing. Its surprisingly, much later than you would think since they last spoke.

We chill out on the bus, reading books, playing games on Bec’s phone and chatting with each other. Despite it being a 4 hour long ride, the bus trip is over quicker than you think it should be.

We load up our stuff, and get on our way to our hostel here. We have really had a hard time trying to get onto any couch surfers in Italy. Most of the time, they just wanna have women stay with them, and often are opposed to having couples. Literally, for everywhere we were heading, nobody was interested in having us stay with them. How mental is that? With that in mind, we had to keep booking hostels and Airbnbs.

To Florence-31

We check in, and we are standing there at the elevator entrance, waiting for this elevator that kinda just never seems to arrive. This bloke walks past us, coming down from the stairs, holding his laptop, and gives us a casual glance, as he makes his was past us do the foyer. My first thought is, “Bit of a nerd”, I mean, he is in a hostel, where people are usually pretty sociable, and he is running around with his laptop. But, whatever, it’s his choice.

We head up the stairs, cos this is taking forever for this elevator to arrive. We get set up in the hostel, and before we can do much more, Bec needs to get cracking on Jodie’s wedding prep. She is the maid of honour for Jodie’s wedding, which is less than a week after we get back in to Kalgoorlie. She’s starting to feel the pinch a little bit, so she gets stuck into this, while I keep reading my book.

I don’t think I have ever devoured a book so quickly in my life. This is the negotiating book I picked up in Rome. I am already half way through the book, and it has only been a couple days. For me, this is a really good innings. We are plugging away, at our respective things, and the door opens up, and who is standing there other than the bloke who was walking down the stairs. We say hi to each other, but that is about all. He plays his game on his laptop, I keep reading and Bec keeps working on her stuff for the wedding.

To Florence-30

About 20-30 minutes later, Bec and I are talking, and the guy on the computer chimes in with a light hearted remark. I can’t remember what it was, but he seemed to be a little reserved, so we didn’t inflict ourselves on him, but we just made it known through the lack of hiding our conversation, that we were pretty open to chat.

We get talking with him, and turns out that he is from Orlando, Florida, and he is over here playing poker. I think to myself “Oh cool hobby”. Turns out that this is his job. He is a professional poker player, and has competed in the likes of the world series. The tone of the conversation changes quickly by this point. He now has my attention. There is a difference between a punter who has no idea what he is doing, to a competitor on the world series. I, myself am not much of a poker player, but I still fancy a bit of poker from time to time.

Last time I played, I got absolutely flogged, so being that you get a fair bit of man points if you can hold your own in poker, this was my opportunity to hit him with the hard questions to nail my next game of poker. Bec knows all of this, and I am in the middle of helping her out on the computer, when I find out that my roomie is a wealth of information.

To Florence-32

“Oh mate. Have I got some questions for you…”
Bec sighs a little “Yeah… He does…”
She knows that I haven’t got much poker experience, but she also knows that if I can learn something new, I sure am going to take the opportunity. This was a golden opportunity, served on a silver platter. I hit him with the validity of tells in poker? At what point do you fold? How do you choose when to bet big? The conversation went on and on, and I could tell from the way that he was engaging in this conversation, that he was enjoying this conversation as much as I was.

He gives me little nuggets of advice, teaching me little tips & signs to look for in the other people, but it doesn’t take long for him to get to the point that poker is a numbers game. It is all about maths and odds. In the end, if the odds are too high, then its not a worthwhile hand. The truth is that any hand you have might be the best hand you could get. You might not have Ace, King, but given the rest of the cards on the table, a 3,5 might be better.

You can’t tell.

It honestly comes down to numbers in the end of it, and this is one of the first times in my life that I wish I kept at maths longer. Without maths, your’e screwed in poker. We keep chatting for the next few hours, and make our way down for dinner. It’s an all you can eat buffet, and Bec eats all she can eat from the salad department. Both DJ and I were impressed with how much salad she ate. More than the both of us combined. We drink wine, and I told DJ that if he loves poker, he is going to LOVE perudo. It pretty much is poker with dice. So, once dinner is out of the way, the dice some to play. We play for a good hour or so, spotting periodically to discuss the state of our nations and the solutions that we think are best for the next few decades.

In the space of only a few hours, we have got to know DJ more than we have with those that we have spent a solid week with. The guy is a true gentleman, and is the kinda guy that you just can’t not get along with. He tells us stories about poker and the community around it. He tells us about this tournament that he was in, where this old bloke rocked up at his table and got talking with all the players.

Naturally, in a game where concentration is key, this pissed off a fair few of the players. Being able to read the play a little, DJ stepped in and started making conversation with the old bloke, so that the conversation wasn’t spreading around the table, distracting everyone. They get talking about family and the sort, and DJ asked whether this bloke’s wife is proud of their son. At this point, the old bloke got all choked up, and it turns out that she passed away only recently. Back-tracking on the conversation, they resumed playing and discussing other relevant topics.

After a period of time, DJ lost at this table, and said his goodbyes to the old lad. A few days later, DJ was walking around the town, when we bumped into the bloke. Being that they hit it off really well, he asked him “Hey! How did you go the other day?”, the guy casually flashes the tournament ring. He had only lost his wife a little while ago, and joined the tournament as a means of community, and ended up winning the whole gig.

DJ show us the goosebumps on his arm, “This is why I love poker”, and I believe every word he says.

He is utterly passionate about his job, playing poker, so much so, that he sold his home and left a very cruisy government job with all the perks to pursue poker. He has always had a knack for it. He tells me that it is like christmas for him to meet someone who wants to talk about poker, and has a little knowledge on how it works.

I maintain, that I don’t care what the topic of conversation is about. I have found that as long as the person I am talking to is passionate about something, then I find it infectious, and I want to know more. That is how I am wired, at least. Even if I know nothing about a subject, I find it so interesting to understand what excites this person, and what really brings them to life. If that is poker, then that is brilliant. Tell me everything I need to know about poker to be excited like you are.

And, as with most things, there is a lot more to poker than just numbers and reading people. The community is so massive, it’s not even funny.

Bec heads up stairs, while DJ and I finish one more game of perudo. This time, I give him an absolute flogging. Each game you play with him, you can see his mind ticking, while he works out that dynamics of the game, and the maths behind each move. It’s pretty cool to see a poker player’s mind in action.

To Florence-33

We head up stairs, and the last guy who is staying in our room is also there now. Turns out that the only reason DJ didn’t say hi to us, in the first place, was because of this guy. You will say “hi” to him, and he will acknowledge that you have said hi, by staring at you, and then continuing whatever he was doing before you had the audacity to introduce yourself. Fair enough. Bec gets out of the shower, and this eastern block-kinda looking and sounding guy heads into the bathroom.

One thing is for sure. He is a master of destroying any sense of peace and quiet you might have. The guy cranks up  the hair drier. Its not like it just on for a few minutes, this guy keeps the drier cranking for ages, but he only has a good 10mm of hair at best.

We’re all a little confused.

Either he is an ape, or his hair grew a LOT in his time in the bathroom.

Whatever floats your boat, though.

We hit the hay. It has been an amazing day, and we are lucky to have met DJ. He is an absolute legend of a bloke, and one that I hope we get to meet up with later in life.

Come back for the next story,

Billy

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