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Monday January 31, 2005 // By Sandy

Boys night in

On my last birthday, the best gift was easily Sarah’s. She got me a 500-count set of poker chips. It comes in this hard metal case, with lock and key, to let me pretend that I’m carrying around a briefcase of stolen booty, and not simply a couple dozen pounds of molded clay. As if that weren’t enough, the gift’s value shot up even more by the fact that Sarah clearly had to bite down hard on her visceral aversion to gambling in order to buy it. She’s a lot of great things, my girlfriend is, and to that long list I’m happy to finally add: enabler.

So that was in November, and with the holidays, it took a while to get a table together. But since the new year, I’ve hosted two poker nights with the new chips, the latest happening Saturday night. Sarah got out of Dodge, I think to some party where there were lots of girls talking about lots of girlie things. I think the odds are good that the topic “Men: What’s with that gambling thing?” came up several times throughout the night.

The poker night, meanwhile, was a great success. For the police that I’m sure monitor this blog, let me state quite clearly that NO MONEY WAS EXCHANGED. Some money might have been put on the table in the beginning of the night, and some might have left that table at the end, but I’m really not sure how or why or who even took it. All I know is that we played for little circular chips, with cute little pictures of dice on them, and how could playing with pretty, colored chips constitute any kind of crime?

The game this time was more methodical. The first time we played this year, which was also our first time playing an entire night of no-limit hold ‘em, I don’t think everyone quite had a handle on the pace of the game. This time, it took a while for the first player to drop out, which was nice, because it felt like everyone had a chance at the pot. After three dropped out, they set up a side game—of Carcassone. That’s the kind of gang I run with: we’ll gladly play poker, but we’d really rather be playing German strategy games.

Eventually it came down to Boda and myself, and we traded jabs for the better part of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman,” our established theme music for the final rounds of the game. But then, somewhere between the rock and the devil, he knocked me out—save two bucks—with a pocket queen that matched her two sisters on the flop, and I was all but done for. The next hand bled me of my final two dollars, and Boda walked home with the cash—I mean, praise and adulation of his friends.

The burn of coming so close and yet not winning has left me with an itch to get it on again—a phenomenon I hear they like to call “addiction.” Nevermind that, I could stop anytime; I just wouldn’t want Sarah to think I didn’t fully appreciate her gift.

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