in This time it's personal

Money for nothing

THAT’S right: money for nothing.
Which is exactly what you get when you hit it big with poker, or any variation thereof.
In my case, it was a small stakes cash game of Texas Hold’em wherein I took home P600 without—and this I must fully emphasize—forking out a centavo since a fellow player agreed to lend me money for the buy-in.
Thanks to uncanny good luck, irresistably cold beer, and the saintly forebearance of my poker buddies, I was able to clean my rivals out, to a greater and lesser degree.
But don’t get me wrong.
My opponents—a meticulous magazine editor, two big-shot lawyers, and two semi-professional poker players—were sharp, intelligent individuals, sensitive to the game’s nuances, always on the lookout for sudden, irregular behavior which either betrayed a bluff, a winning hand, or in certain cases, a futile attempt to fart quietly.
Meanwhile, I had no such skills.
I was—and still am—a good-for-nothing, deadline-beating bum who had a nervous twitch whenever I held two cards of the same suit.
In short, I was a novice, a beginner; a neophyte whose only advantage over a poker virgin was that I knew the difference between a club and a spade.
As always, whenever I agreed to play, I was prepared to lose my shirt and whatever shred of diginity that I had left.
Fortunately or unfortunately, my inexperience never got in the way of my appreciation for a good round of poker—the thrill of calling and raising bets, the exchange of witty remarks among players, and of course, the sheer joy of winning a hand.
But then again, between drinking and playing poker, I’d take a cold bottle of beer over a straight flush anytime. After all, it is easier to look for alcoholic beverages than a set of five sequential cards of the same suit.
However, on that Friday night, cold beer was just as available to me as a straight or a nut flush.
A few minutes after I joined the table, I immediately won three straight games, all of them spectacular plays. Later on, I managed to win some more, allowing me to fully settle the debt I incurred to the chagrin of my friend who earlier agreed to cover me.
As expected, my victory and their defeat was not without name-calling (i. e., you bastard), sour-graping (i. e., “you placed your bet out of turn”), and hard feelings (i. e., “next time, bring your own beer”).
By the time the night was over, we went to my favorite watering hole and I treated them to a drink. It was their money after all.

(Originally posted August 10, 2007 in a separate blog)

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