It’s not leaderboard, but with three GNN regulars in attendance, it would be wrong to not mention tonight’s game. Many, many years ago, when Sam, Chris, Paul and I lived in London and our interest in games was little more than Chris mentioning that he might like to try one sometime, we would have regular Poker nights. Some years later, the Poker nights transplanted to Bristol, but by now they have the added distraction of Settlers of Catan and El Grande to compete with. In the end, the meeples overthrew the chips, and board games became our regular gaming fix, with Poker reduced to the occasional cameo role.
Today, though, saw the first of what might become a monthly occasion. Hosted by Tom, original emails suggested we would be seven or eight in number, with a £10 buy-in. But a number of last-minute bail-outs meant that Tom had to subsidise his wife and eldest daughter to join us, putting the numbers back up to a respectable six.
We were Tom, Hannah (not GNN Hannah) and Lola (these three made up the host and family) and also Joe, Sam and I (the visitors). We began without Sam, who was still en route. He got their soon enough and, panting from his bike ride, and still trying to sort out his sandwiches and crisps, he distractedly kept raising until everyone else had folded. His first win, and he hadn’t even got his breath back.
This was where his good form ended, though. His recent form at Poker has been that he is out first, and so it was tonight. He went all in on one hand, and Lola did the same. I had Q J (don’t remember the suits, but they weren’t the same) and plenty of money in reserve, so I figured I may as well stay in. They had K 7 (Sam) and K 8 (Lola) and Sam had the upper hand with a pair of sevens until the fifth card showed another Queen. I had won, and knocked two players out in the process.
This was especially galling for Lola who had only recently folded a hand on the advice of her father, when later cards revealed that she would have won. But that’s Poker, a game that is hard to write about because so much of it is in the Past Present Conditional tense: “I would have (verb) if only I hadn’t...”. That verb is usually “won.” Accompanied by bitter tears of regret.
So now we were down to four: Tom, me, Hannah and Joe. Hannah, after a poor start had got her mojo back towards the end of her second glass of wine, winning one hand with a straight when everyone else was obsessing over pairs and three of a kinds.
But after a while, Joe and Hannah both fell by the wayside. Joe stayed to act as dealer for Tom and I, which I regretted at first since, under his dealership, my previous good luck evaporated faster than an ice cube on the Sun. The balance of power tilted back to Tom. I moaned, and Joe suggested that he stopped dealing. But I said it was okay for him to continue, partly because I didn’t want to be a slave to superstition, and also because if we did change dealers and I still lost, who was I supposed to blame?
But after a few rounds of me folding or losing, Tom made a tactical error. I went all in on a pretty boring board (those cards everyone can see and use) and Tom matched me. Almost as he did, he said he shouldn’t have, because he had nothing while I had a pair. The last card to be shown didn’t change that, and I won a pivotal round. After this I pushed hard on my next good hand and got another win. After this it was just a matter of waiting until Tom raised when I also had a good hand, in the hope that my luck lasted longer than his.
And it did. I got him out and claimed a rare victory at Poker. Admittedly, a lot of stronger players than me weren’t present, but you can only beat the opponents you play against. And if they want to chicken out at the last minute, then that’s their affair.
However, this win is pretty rare, and I did have a lot of luck. Almost much every hand I had showed some possibility. And what are the chances of me winning two hands in a row on a Full House with three twos in there somewhere? I guess Lady Luck took a fancy to me that night. And so I’m posting about it now. Pure vanity publishing, but hey – I may not win another Poker game for the next couple of years.