| Greenly Charleston was a gentleman's gentleman, and a good friend mine. I don't believe that Greenly was his true name, but no one ever called him by another. As far as I can recall, you may hear someone say, “Mean Green has cleaned me out again.” or “He's looking very green today.” but I've never heard anyone ever call him anything but “Greenly.” And to my surprise, as I learned from one of his childhood friends, his parent's just called him “Greenly” too. However, I'd also like to think that in the bitter end and they've made out his grave marker, this hidden and trivial fact will be known without any extended conversation or thought.
I've known for some time that his last name was not Charleston at birth, and that it was in fact Warner as I'd once been introduced to his father at one of the many professional conventions held in our famous city. His father, an earnest man, was retired teacher who once taught high school math to under privilhttp://images.writing.com/imgs/writing.com/writers/editor/writingml-indent.gifeg... youth in a tough neighborhood of that city which had been named for brotherly love. When a staffer from our national news network asked Mr. Warner what Greenly was like as a boy, he described his son as being “a juvenile delinquent with only trouble in his brain and far too much time in his hands;” and being a single father myself, I've never doubted the accuracy of this statement at all.
Be it as it may, I feel that my friend's youthful tenancy for being troublesome had nothing to do with a separation or divorce of his parents, as it'd been the case with so many other modern day families, such as it was with mine, but I fully believe that this temporary childhood condition can be chiefly attributed to the fact that his mother had died from cancer when Greenly had only just begun kindergarten. I can't help but to believe that this is why Greenly gained a such a unique perspective on living; as that of a risk taker. His view point on risk was pretty much the same as most of those who worked on Wall Street, and his approach to measuring the risk was very scientific and methodical. He seemed to inherently know that, when the odds were too much against him, he shouldn't gamble too much of what he had for the loss may be too great to recover from, but he also seem to know that with great risk would come great reward.
“You know, Mike,” He once said to me in a very surprising and rare not so gentlemanly moment, “those afraid of taking a risk, live very sheltered lives. And one thing that bothers me the most about some of these idiots is that they still haven't gotten over their moms unwillingness to continue changing their diapers. I'll even bet that their mommy will give some of them a pacifier when they get home. Regular cry babies to the bitter end. And I know that you've been there Mike, when some of those whiny little good for nothing wusses have gotten my dander up so much that I just wanted to give them an old fashion get out the hickory switch type of whooping. And how does a mamby pamby little mamma's boy even know what taking a risk is? It seems to me that they've been spoiled rotten all their lives, and they'll never be able to make a proper decision.”
On that day, as I recall it, Greenly had just offered this young heir of a massive fortune a minimal risk business opportunity and had been sharply turned down because the young man didn't want to risk loosing a small fraction of his wealth. And it's always seemed funny to me how by just saying, “How's it going?” that day could start such a vile and hostile rant from the gentle Greenly. But, I could see that Greenly was truly envious of this young man's inheritance, for he often risked greatly to be as successful as he was, and this was not without hardship from time to time. But in all, I think that it was the total lack of the young man's consideration which invoked such an untypical reaction from Greenly's earnest and gentlemanly ethos.
As I was informed by Mr. Warner, Greenly's very first success was a lemon aid stand which he had set up in front of his house, and with the one dollar bill which Greenly's father had given him to buy supplies, he was able to turn this small amount of seed money into more than $20 on the first day. His stand had a banner which read, “Gift needed for Sick Mom. Lemon Aid 25¢ a glass.”; and, of course, he actually did buy a gift for one of his friend's mom just to be legit, but this only required a couple of bucks. The sick mom hook worked so well that within three weeks he had almost $80 which allowed him to started working on bigger and better things.
Today, Greenly Charleston was one of the most successful real-estate developer on the West Coast. His building's stood tall in many large cities and were led certified. He was always thinking green when it came to building. “When it comes to planet earth, we must always think about sustainability,” he said once at an energy conference here. He had in fact won the prestigious Pritzker Prize and the Edward C. Kemper Award for his innovative building designs. But oddly enough, he was not here today to talk about skyscrapers, he was here for the only one thing a risk taker like Greenly lives for; The World Series Of Poker.
This was the grand finally of Poker and it's origins were right here in Glitter Gulch begun by a man not so different from Greenly. The Grandfather of Glitter Gulch, Benny Binion, took a big risk coming to Las Vegas and bet everything on a saw dust joint, just across the street from the Golden Nugget, he named the Horseshoe. Although he introduced many innovative things to gaming such as the WSOP, he was still rooted in crime and he was put in Ft. Leavenworth Prison from 1954-1957 for tax evasion. And as unfortunate as this was for Benny, his partner took over and for that three year period the place took on the name, 'Joe Brown's Horseshoe', for which Joe was never truly forgiven by Benny for doing this.
In 1970, Benny invited 7 of the best known poker players to the Horseshoe to play in a tournament. The first WSOP was run with a time limit and secret ballot to determine the winner. Since then the tournament has grown and now has 61 events and with 6,865 entrants in the main event this year, each with the $10,000 entry fee, the winning pot was set to be $8,711,956. Being in the final 9, meant that Greenly would win a minimum of $782,115 just for showing up today. And of course, the winner receives a bracelet which is unique each year, a fact that I'm sure was foremost in Greenly's mind.
October, in Las Vegas, meant far cooler days than the desert heat of that July day when the final 9 were chosen. This year was an election year so the Final Table event was moved up a week. As Greenly was expecting to stay of only 10 day in Las Vegas, he did not even consider that it would rain, and dressed in his favorite shirt and blazer to the event, but low and behold, today it was raining the proverbial cats and dogs. He had just 30 minutes to make from my place at the Ridges in Summerlin to the RIO, but since I had once drove taxi here I knew that we would be on time. Although the WSOP official had only given Greenly an extra 5 minutes to make it, with my help, Greenly was able to get there with a minute or two to spare.
The Pen and Teller Theatre was packed with a huge audience, eager to witness the drama that was about to unfold for the event's 32nd time, and when the final flop final came, Greenly was there next to the super sized pile of cash with the award bracelet as the center piece. As the two cards of Greenly hand flew across the table from the dealer to him, he glanced over to his opponent, a young man of just 21 years who would be the youngest in WSOP history should he win. The young man looks quickly at his cards and goes all in, and Greenly with an Ace of Spades and a King of Clubs, called then turned over his cards for all to see. With Greenly's call, the young man quickly turned over his cards as required, and then Greenly and the crowd leaped to their feet, there it was a Ten of Clubs and Seven of Clubs.
Odds were now in Greenly's corner, but it was still up to the deal. The dealer now flops the Five of Clubs, Two of Diamonds, and Nine of Spade cards. Nothing of any significance there for the young man or Greenly, and nothing there to invoke another earth moving roar from the crowd. The customary brief pause in the deal now seem to last more an eternity, (which is to say those normally few palatable seconds that allow everyone to regain composure during the deal, now painfully felt as though they were purposely changed into never ending minutes just to torment this overly excited crowd,) and then just as it seemed to be no longer bearable, the turn card was dealt. It was a Jack of Hearts and things being the way they were, it did not seem possible that Greenly could lose, but there was still one more card to be dealt.
I'll make note here that Greenly really didn't need the money, it only meant that if he lost this hand, he'd still have enough chips left to beat the young man. The young man stood stoic with his eyes now fixated on the dealer with a stare that could not be broken and his face was coated with an expression of total desperation. The dealer then proceeded with the customary four hand slaps to the table with the dealing hand and then he drew the last card. The crowd roared, and Greenly could not believe his eyes, the river of the Four of Diamonds meant his Ace and King had actually held up to win.
Greenly had done it and won the bracelet. For Greenly it was always about the bracelet, as the money “was just frosting on the cake.” as he put it. As for the young man it was over, he had busted out, but although he was going home with a consolation prize of $5,430,928, he didn't seem half as happy as a man in his position should be. I can only speculate, but I think that winning the bracelet meant far more to him than it did to Greenly. I remember thinking that there is always next year, but those odds are always extremely slim.
I've never seen Greenly so happy, and I can tell you that he was so grateful for me helping him get to the event on time that he paid for my son's law school. As for the bracelet, it was greatly cherished by my risk taker friend, and he'd wear it on certain social occasions, just so that he could brag about how he beat the “young upstart,” as he called the young man. And, whenever I had the opportunity to participate in this pleasant little embellishment, I would glance over at him and say, “Hey Greenly, Where'd ya get the bracelet?”