"That ain't workin, that's the way you do it, Get your money for nothin' and your chicks for free."
In the 1980s, when Dire Straits' Money for Nothing was an MTV staple, the cash-coveting college grad headed to Wall Street, lusting after the stock-market bounty.
In the '90s, his successor in spirit stampeded to Silicon Valley, to the dot-com startups and his prospects for obscene wealth.
In the 21st century, the ambitious, avaricious college grad is off to Las Vegas, seeking his pot of gold in a pot of poker chips. And his is not necessarily waiting until he graduates.
John Stolzmann, a Wisconsin dropout, is looking for a home in Las Vegas, which happens to be the nation's fastest-growing metropolitan area. The $1.4 million Stolzmann won in a tournament last January should assuage his house-hunting concerns. Erich Lindgren, a juco dropout who won $1 million in an online tourney, lives there, too. As does David Williams, who dropped out of Southern Methodist before his senior year after finishing second (and earning $3.5 million) in last year's No Limit Texas Hold 'em tourney at the World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Thomas "Thunder" Keller, who won the $5,000 No Limit Hold 'em event at the 2004 WSOP, waited until he earned his B.A. in economics from Stanford before succumbing to the temptations of Sin City.
Dire Straits, in their tune that perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the mid-'80s, were talking about rock stars. But to many a college student, hot young poker studs such as Williams, Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey are rock stars. For them, the future's so bright they gotta wear shades -- besides, it prevents their opponents from seeing their eyes during a hand and possibly picking up a tell.
While most college poker fanatics are not so brash as to move to Vegas, more than a few are willing to visit. "A bunch of us are heading there tomorrow," one Duke student told me on the eve of his spring break in March.
"We're gonna road-trip out there for the World Series," says Scott, a junior at Indiana. "We'll try to win a satellite and enter."
The NCAA may not want to hear this, but come June, more college students will be fixated on the World Series of Poker than the College World Series.
Even Tom (an alias) a fellow Indiana junior who has sworn off playing poker online now that he is some $55,000 in debt, found the funds and inclination to make a pilgrimage to southern Nevada over his spring break.
"I was thinking about not going through with it while I was sitting on the plane," says Tom, who went with a group of fellow Hoosiers. "I was thinking, This is a stupid, stupid idea."
Tom lost about $1,000 -- most of it playing blackjack.