[Disclaimer: nobody actually cheats at cards in this post.]
For many years now, I’ve been part of a poker school of dads from Park Slope and the surrounding neighbourhoods. It’s a testament to how much guys like a drink and a game of cards that the school has survived the disintegration of the mothers’ group that preceded it, moves out of the country, divorces and the passing of the years. And also to our most frequent host and co-ordinating e-mail sender. We’ve got a steady attendance of six guys, even though the unemployment rate among the group has soared to 50%.
It’s a good mix for a poker school: A couple of guys who are fairly conservative, a couple who will bluff with a pair of deuces, and a couple of guys who fall somewhere in between. We include one guy who will throw down a pile of cards with a declaration that he’s “not quite sure what he’s got” or “thinks he’s got a possible straight”; and by the time the collected brains trust has examined the various suits, ranks and wild cards, it turns out to be five of a kind. A good way to reel folks in, if you bet as if you have just a reasonable hand, rather than scaring everyone off and scorching the earth Although, the best recent example of betting on the wrong cards arose last week, when one-eyed jacks and suicide kings were wild. I thought my king of diamonds looked clinically depressed, at best, and certainly looked like he was in no condition to be wondering around with an unexplained axe. Maybe, with his Dick Dastardly mustache, he’d failed to catch the pigeon. So, I bet as if he was a wild card. Only one person was suicidal at the end of that hand, and it wasn’t the king of diamonds.
Nevertheless, I was back this week for more, despite my cognitive deficits. And there were three good reasons for that. Firstly, the buy-in’s $20 (only $16 this week), and that’s a cheap night out, even if you throw in a six-pack. Secondly, it’s good cognitive therapy, particularly if you throw in some occupational therapy sorting out the fiasco that is the F/G line at 15th Street. And the group’s liking for unusual games (Fours are wild? Really?!) Finally (as you may recall), injuries to the right side of the brain can cause decreased awareness of one’s deficits. Among that issue, the compensating lack of confidence arising from the stroke, and my brain’s compensating (but tiring) desire to monitor, from a slightly detached position, everything it wants me to do, even I had no idea how I was going to bet on any given hand. And, sure enough, with my erratic approach, I made $8 on my initial $16 buy-in. That’s 50% up, cognitive therapy fans! I won one hand with a royal straight flush, and another hand, even more unlikelily, with three of a kind. Maybe my luck is turning.
Of course, multi-tasking in such an arena remains a challenge, so leaving in time to get to the Church Avenue station for a train back to 15th Street before the F/G to 15th Street shut down for the weekend at midnight was a challenge too far. But even three of the unafflicted were having the same problem, so I couldn’t feel too bad about that. All in all, a good night.