Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Wednesday's Post

November 13, 2013

How not to become a professional gambler

Nov. 13, 2013 — I don’t recall exactly when I decided I wanted to become a professional poker player.

I was trying to be a college student and work full-time but couldn’t shake the notion of being a “card sharp”.

I once used the other term, “card shark”, but I was corrected by an old-time gambler who pointed out that a “sharp” is a skilled card player while a “shark” is a cheat.

To my surprise, a bartender friend told me that the hotel in that Ohio town regularly hosted high stakes poker games and he would introduce me to the man in charge.

The hotel manager had converted a guest room into a poker parlor, as he called it.

Gambling was illegal almost everywhere in those days. The poker game at the hotel was a “house game” operated by the hotel instead of a “floating game” that moved around.

I managed to come up with $100 for my first foray into high stakes poker. However, I didn’t get to play that night because the game required a minimum “stake” of $500.

As I left the room, one of the players suggested I come back the next night when the stakes would be smaller.

I returned with $200, thanks to a cash advance on my first bank card which fortuitously had arrived in the mail.

Beginner’s luck was with me and I left with $150 in winnings.

I started for the bar to tell my buddy about my good fortune. As I stepped off the elevator, one of the players from the game asked me to go outside.

He said he knew that I was a big winner and he wanted a chance to get some of his money back to buy food for his family.

He proposed a game of straight poker with each receiving five cards on the hood of his car.

I was pleased that he agreed to let me deal the cards after he cut the deck. Feeling even luckier, I bet $100 and he called and raised another $100.

Knowing I had a full house, I raised with my last $150.

He called and, to my dismay, turned over four queens and walked away with all of my money.

No longer young and dumb, I know today that he put in a stacked deck when he cut the cards. I was just the mark who dealt the cards.

Today I never watch the World Series of Poker because it reminds me of what might have been.

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