Saturday, August 14, 2021

Weekend Post

Got invited to a poker game last weekend. A friend plays in a regular game and needed an extra body. Poker is an ingenious game. It involves both skill and luck. If only I had either.

I hadn’t played poker in probably fifteen years so I pretty much had forgotten everything other than I always lose.

Still, I enjoyed myself.  The players were usually a group of comedy writers or improv chums so there were always more laughs than chips (especially in front of me). I likened it to a rewrite night where you didn’t have to address network notes.

This time the only person I knew going in was my friend. But it was a low stakes game so I figured what the hell? The guys all turned out to be fun, and they all came from other branches of the industry so I got to hear all-new horror stories. Nothing breaks the ice like getting fucked over in Hollywood.

I was worried that these dudes would hate me. Since I didn’t know what I was doing I would surely test their patience. And if I won they’d really despise me. Fortunately, they were tolerant, and fortunately they took all my money. So my fears were for naught.

I needed one of those little cheat sheets that told you that a royal flush beats a pair of threes. I thought, wouldn’t it be great to watch an episode of THE WORLD SERIES OF POKER and one of the finalists has the same cheat sheet next to his chips?

Remembering what beats what is hard enough for someone who needs a cheat sheet to retrieve his messages from voicemail, but we rotated dealing and the dealer got to select the game. Holy shit!

Seven card night baseball with the next card after a queen is a wild card

Hi-lo – 5 ½ or 21

Three chip buy-in pass your garbage

Seven card elevator (not to be confused with seven card crisscross)

Seven card Texas hold ‘em, 3’s are wild and 4's entitled you to buy another card if you wanted

On and on. They know you’re not a savvy player when it’s your turn and they say, “What are we playin’?” and you begin your answer with “What’s the one where…?” As the deal was going around the table I was getting progressively more anxious. What to do when it came to me?

Finally, I was up. I decided to just fake it. “Okay, five card double-draw hi-lo Taj Mahal, pig fives are wild, threes are sevens, sevens are tens, face cards are a half, and Jews get six cards instead of five.” Everyone laughed, but one guy who asked what Taj Mahal was.

The night moved along but required a lot of concentration. More than I could muster after a couple of hours. Again, it was like a rewrite night where you just zone out. “What page are we on again?” “Who’s asking who to stop doing what when?” “Has the food arrived yet?”

The food was another reason poker night is like rewrite night. Delivered pizza that you eat off of paper plates while standing . All we needed were Red Vines for me to feel really nostalgic.

You’d think as the night went along I’d get better. But actually, I got worse. I knew I was in trouble when I won a pot with nothing in my hand. Everyone complimented me on how well I bluffed. But I wasn’t bluffing. I actually thought I had a winning hand.

They should also have a cheat sheet for poker slang. Clubs were puppy paws. Pocket aces were American Airlines. Full houses are full boats. If you have a nine and a five that’s a Dolly Parton. But why do they call kings “cowboys?” When I think of cowboys I rarely imagine Richard Burton.

But it never fails.  The minute any six guys sit down to play poker they all start talking like they're in GUYS AND DOLLS.    The Pope and his cardinals get together and the Pope is dealing saying, "No help. crabs, Kojak, bitch in the bleachers.  Pony up gents."

All in all, it was a fun night, I made some new friends, now am aware of more industry shitheads, and I think after all this time I finally figured out how to win at poker. Have Jennifer Tilly play for me while I drive around for four hours picking up the pizza. 


Joseph Scarbrough said...

When I was in 8th grade, my school had done away with the concept of homeroom, so we all just went straight to our first period classes - even if we showed up early (which the school liked for us to do). For the longest time, before class began, my classmates and I would sit around in a circle and play Uno like a bunch of poker buddies to kill time - those were fun experiences. We usually played what we called "Vicious Uno," and it certainly lived up to its name at times.

N. Zakharenko said...

Three's Company, Married With Children and The Joey Bishop Show to name but a few had stories revolving around poker games.

A poker story I heard was a writer who tried to submit one to Mash, but the producer at the time knocked it back.

The script was reworked, and later submitted to Cheers -
But ran into the same producer there -
so it was a neh.

That's not a Taj Mahal - that's a Black Hole Of Calcutta.

Dante's ninth circle said...

That picture of Jennifer Tilly has a strong Natalie Wood vibe - do you have a "type", Ken? 😉

Douglas Trapasso said...

Mash, of course, had two great episodes centered around poker . . . One where the guys let Frank win and one where Charles’ tell was a major plot point. I can’t imagine a realistic Cheers episode centered around poker unless Woody or Kelly initially won.

YEKIMI said...

My level of card games is limited to "Go Fish" or Solitaire. Have had "friends" that have tried to teach me poker but they [and I] gave up after a couple of hours. I just couldn't ever get the hang of any game except the two I mentioned.

Lemuel said...

THE ODD COUPLE frequently featured a poker game, with Felix "catering" to the players.

Betty said...

I love Jennifer Tilly. She's the only actor I know who can go head-to-head with Tim Curry in scenery-chewing. (See "Bailey's Billions" for proof.)

Cap'n Bob said...

Snowmen = eights. Sailboats = fours. Bullets = aces. Woolworths = a five and ten. Hockey sticks = sevens.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Lemuel In the first season, yes, but eventually, the poker games were scaled back, and Oscar's poker buddies (except for Murray the Cop) were pretty much written out of the show, save for occasional guest appearances; according to Garry Marshall and Jerry Belson, the network research turned up audiences found the frequent poker games boring.

CRL said...

Douglas Trapasso:

'Pick A Con,Any Con'

My favorite episode

Mmryan314 said...

I taught my grandson and his 12 to 13-year-old crowd how to play poker this summer. We play for dimes and I have set a limit on the amount they can buy in for. I insist that they use the proper poker lingo too. About twice a week I get a call wanting me to come over and play and I try to accommodate when I can. I consider it a lifelong skill. Wild cards drive me crazy so I told them that it's never done in a decent poker game.

Storm the Klingon said...

I know those dogs are supposed to be waiting for the one to make his bet or whatever, but it also looks like he said something utterly shocking, like "As a pup, I ate my own mother, and I'm a better dog for it."

Poker has and will always escape me, to my great regret, because I live with dyscalculia (Spell Check doesn't even recognize it), AKA "dyslexia, but numbers". I don't see numbers all weird, like upside down etc., though I do often see them reversed (6:54 instead of 6:45, for example). Besides screwing up my ability to do maths, it also screws up *anything* that has a numeric value, including volume. It's made my years of sewing a challenge!

When I make it to Loch Ness one day, if I see Nessie, I'll be a rubbish witness, because I can't accurately estimate height, length, width, or distance. But I'll describe the hell outta its characteristics!

Cheers, thanks a lot,


MikeN said...

Was there anything like Norm MacDonald said the older comedians were making jokes of him being gay? He gets a queen,'Here's a lady for the lady."