For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker
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meat. No vegetables, barely even a potato. He likes a platter of beef, nothing on the side. Hugo, the erstwhile Sweep, worries for the state of Trouts’s intestines. The Sweep’s own constitution is delicate. He is always either famished, or feeling sick because he ate too much. He’ll say, ‘I’m dying of starvation, when’s dinner, when’s dinner?’, then take one bite and groan, ‘I’m bloated.’ He can’t bear to play poker with anyone who has a cold. He thinks that if he sits too close to an open
to a knock-knock joke. He is currently working on Matchstick Men And Matchstick Cats And Dogs. He’s got as far as Knock knock. Who’s there? Andy, Payne, Ted, Matt, Chip, May, Nan, Matt, Chip, Cass, Anne . . . But he’s not happy with it. He thinks ‘Chip’ isn’t quite right. He’s too stubborn to use the obvious Polish name Maçek. He thinks that would be cheating. And Val is insisting that it’s not ‘matchstick’ in the song anyway, it’s ‘matchstalk’. This is very problematic. ♠ It is last
count their bridge games with Roger and Fiona, every Friday or Sunday night, 10p a hundred. But I don’t think that counts. At the end of every bridge night, they put the losers’ £2 or £3 or £5 into a jar, and at the end of the year they all go out for a big dinner with the money. The losers don’t have to have a worse meal than the winners or anything like that. So it’s not gambling, really, it’s more like saving. My father loves watching sport. He gets very involved but he doesn’t bet on it.
excited to see him. Slim, a wizened icon who’s been ‘swoopin’ into gamblin’ towns like a vacuum cleaner’ for more than fifty years, is the world’s most famous poker player. He won the World Series in 1972 and embarked on the American talk-show circuit afterwards. Before Late Night Poker, he was the only player that anyone had heard of. Slim has been hired to promote this tournament, and he’s giving the money’s worth. ‘I play the golden rule,’ he insists. ‘The guy with the gold makes the rules.’
wandering back and forth. Standing there for five minutes, I saw ten or fifteen people I know from Europe. The little hardcore of travelling players is always in Vegas at May time for this series of events, and the baking-hot glittery street feels somehow villagey. Binion’s Horseshoe, the rickety old casino where the tournaments take place, is soaked in romance and history. As soon as I walked in, I felt like I’ve been coming here for decades. Dark, grimy, smoky, fervent, jingling with hope and