Sunday, September 30, 2018


Earlier in the month, I was playing Texas Hold 'Em poker after work when I made a classic beginner's blunder. All of us were chatting and joking, amongst the betting and folding, when the table slowly got quiet. I smiled, and pondered the cards I had. I didn't know what the delay was, when suddenly I had a thought: "Is it on me?" "Yes!" they exclaimed. I folded my cards at once and someone joked "Was that the most difficult decision of your life right there?" It was all in good fun at my expense.

I started playing poker in 2006. The place where I worked held a Texas Hold 'Em tournament, styled like the popular poker tournaments seen in movies and television. Poker was in its boom days then and I gravitated to it, thanks to movies like "Rounders" and "Quiz Show" ("too rich for my blood", says Dick Goodwin to Charles Van Doren, in that movie's memorable poker scene).

Since all my poker experience has come from after-work events, my poker face is not the smoothest. One of things I did to learn poker was to play online, but that doesn't compare with playing at a real table, holding real cards and stacking real chips. There's a popular poker saying that if you can't recognize the sucker at a poker table, then you're probably that sucker, and I have been that poker rube many times.

When I talk to more experienced players, nearly all of them spent time playing casually in high school or college. I'll never have that much experience, but experience only helps so much. Poker is still about the draw of the deck, and even I have won some big hands. In the end, I'm glad I have a chance to play this fun and fascinating game. I just have to remember when it's my turn to bet.