My dad had an older brother named Byron. My dad’s family played a lot of cards, especially bridge. His mother (my grandmother Hazel) was a Life Bridge Master, and her eldest child, Byron, followed in her footsteps, achieving the same title.
Byron didn’t like conventional work. The family business was retail, and many of the sons worked in their department stores, but not Byron. Byron opened a few restaurants, first in Tulsa, Oklahoma where he had grown up, and then in Houston, Texas. His house specialty was Bloody Mary soup. He took me into the kitchen the one time I visited the restaurant and proudly displayed his masterpiece, taking large spoonfuls and “tasting” them to be sure the recipe was just right.
Byron loved to gamble. He could play anything, but mostly he bet on sports. On a typical Sunday afternoon, Byron could be found in his living room watching three televisions simultaneously — and this was way before sports bars and all of that kind of stuff had emerged. His eyes would dart from one screen to another, he would scream at the t.v.’s one by one. He knew what his bets were. He knew the odds on each game, how much he was up or down. Mathematical geniuses run in the family, and Byron was no exception.
Guess where Byron moved after Houston?
Right… Las Vegas! That is how my parents ended up there, but that’s another story altogether.
My younger brother used to visit Byron in Vegas for weeks at a time over summer vacations. They were like the Odd Couple, arguing and messy and both really into numbers. My younger brother has always been great at math and odds too, and this was not lost on Byron, who took him on as his little protege.
And guess where my little brother moved when he grew up?
Right… Las Vegas!
Anyway, Byron was not a rich man by any means, but he did earn a living as a professional gambler. I think that’s a pretty cool job. I am thinking of becoming a professional poker player one day.
It’s all in the family.