Poker star

Poker as a Distraction

There we were  My wife and I and six other people, housed in a beach house less than 20 meters from the Caribbean Sea and doing what you are supposed to do in these situations: eat a lot, dive and have conversations Deep. All that deep conversations that are held with water above the waist, under the dock (to protect the sun) and drinking a mojito (to protect yourself from reality) can be.

Two of our companions were Bobby, a very good friend of my wife, whom he has known for 20 years, and his daughter Sadie. During dinner on the second night, Sadie asked me, “So you’re going to teach us how to play Texas Hold’em, right?” I looked around the table and seven smart, idle people and a large round table in which we could all sit comfortably appeared in front of me. “I cook the cookies if you teach us to play,” Bobby offered. It was an easy decision to make.

I casually carried a deck of cards with me (you never know when a good game of Chinese poker might emerge). We use the other game as chips, attributing a value to each color.


I sat down and started to share while teaching them. I had a good time without playing a single hand, really. They were students eager to learn; His first game lasted for two or three hours. The next night, Sadie went for the cards and the “chips” when she had not yet removed the last plate of dinner. Equipped with basic mechanics and a simple strategy, they began to see the complexity and depth of this game. I think they played until 23:30 or so.


We arrived on the third night and, to my surprise, everyone wanted to play instead of retiring to their novels or iPads. The first check-raise happened spontaneously, which gave me a sense of satisfaction that did not disappear (I imagine how the AI ​​designers of poker should feel the first time one of their creations discovers the check-raise for their account).


On the fourth night, things went wrong. After picking up dinner plates, Sadie looked at her phone and let out an “Oh.” Bobby went to her immediately. His sister, Laurie, Bobby’s youngest daughter, was reaching the end of a moderately complicated pregnancy.


Silence took over the house.


“Something’s wrong, they’re going to the hospital.”


I froze. It was not the time to comment.


It was a few minutes before Sadie said, “Maybe we could play poker, there’s nothing we can do while we wait.” That was my ticket. I picked up the cards, took out the “chips,” and began to deal. Evidently, the mood was more gloomy than in previous nights; Sadie and Bobby continually checked their mobiles. My wife pulled me away and said, “You may have to share all night, you know, right?”


“I’ve done it before, not for better reasons,” I said. Bobby informed us that they were going to try to get the baby out. “You’re the big blind, Mike,” I announced, and continued with the cast.

At some point in the afternoon, Sadie completed a set on the flop and took all the chips from someone who had linked a top pair. As she picked up all the chips, she smiled and said, “For 30 seconds I felt relaxed and content.” That was all I wanted to hear.


At dawn we heard that the baby was born and that both he and the mother were well. Sighs, smiles, and a few tears came up. The game did not last long after this, although Bobby might make a batch of his cookies to celebrate. I can not remember exactly.


What I do remember is that I learned that sometimes poker has no other function than to try to temporarily remove reality. It offers you something to do in those times when you feel desperately that you have to do something with a situation that you can not control.


I was glad to be able to offer the flop-turn-river option to my friends, when the alternative drove them to the frustration and anguish of waiting for news miles away from their loved ones. At that time I was glad that poker was there.


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