November 24, 2010
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'
—John Keats, "Ode On a Grecian Urn"
During my recent trip to Vegas, I had the pleasure of playing a session of poker with the Poker Grump. Now, the Grump has already chronicled the events at the Venetian, so there's no reason for me to rehash matters further. Well, other than to point out, yet again, that I managed to stack the Black Widow of Poker with Yaks on back to back hands. Hilarity ensued!
No, the point I wanted to make is that, although the Grump pretends to be misanthropic, in reality he is a merely a very reserved individual, one who likes to take in the scene more than be a starring actor in the play. But when he decides to open up, he is wicked smart, witty, and a big-ol' teddy bear. Well, a teddy bear who will still steal your pic-a-nic basket of chips, but it's hard to blame him for that.
Although I may have played poker with the Grump a dozen or so times over the past three years, the session a few weeks back was among the most enjoyable. Once he got a table change and secured the seat on my left (muttering something about "position", whatever that is), and got himself logged into the comp system (dragging out a set of what looked to be maybe three dozen players club cards), we started chatting like old friends. Or maybe father-son; one dealer once stated we looked like father-son (I'm not entirely certain which of us should feel more insulted).
We chit-chatted about the upcoming election, poker news from Washington and South Carolina, and a dozen other random, tangential topics. When I got a text message from the folks puppy-sitting the Berkster, along with a picture of the disaster he and his buddy Fritz had wreaked after escaping their kennels during the work day, the Grump proceeded to throw out a series of horrific puns and witticisms to sum up their exploits. Afrer enduring a couple dozen "hound" and "dog" based suggestions, I finally accepted the Grump's suggested label of "The Houndinis". Yes, yes, he'll be at the Venetian all week. Please tip your server.
Later, our chat turned to the card-capper I was using—a 20 drachma Greek coin given to me by George of Mr. Filet fame. The Grump inquired who was on the coin, and I told him I couldn't remember, but knew it was a famous figure in Greek history (once again, my brilliance shows). I suggested it was perhaps Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. The Grump wasn't so sure, but suggested, "Wouldn't it be great if there were some electronic database of information one could access, maybe by phone, to look up information?" I agreed that would be a great invention.
A 20 drachma coin like mine. (Image source).
Of course, after my trip, the Grump emailed me to inform me that, somehow, he had been able to identify the figure on the coin as Pericles. Of course, with my background as a philosophy and religion major (and a fraternity member), I suppose I could have attempted to translate the Greek lettering, "ΠΕΡΙΚΛΗΣ" ("Perikles" in English), but I was on vacation, and was in a no thinking zone. I have to admit, though, that I lost seconds of sleep worrying about the identity of the dead Greek dude on my card-capper. Thank gawd for the Grump!
Another topic that came up were the ads I had observed on Las Vegas buses for "half-price lawyers". Coming from Iowa, one of the most restrictive states for lawyer advertising, the blatant consumerist approach of the ads was rather shocking. But, as the Grump and I discussed, the ads were also curious since there are a number of situations where one doesn't necessarily want the half-price professional—lawyers, doctors, food inspectors, pilots, exotic dancers ... In any event, the Grump later sent me a link to the Half-Price Lawyers website, complete with catchy jingle. So, if any of y'all find yourselves in a Vegas jail (not that I would expect that of my high-class readers), now you know where to find a lawyer. You're welcome.
As for the poker itself, I rarely found myself in a hand with the Grump, not because I was avoiding him, but because his style usually meant he had a hand when he did play. In a way, I think the Grump thrives off players like me. I make my money in Vegas by being the loose, loud, splashy, dare I say flamboyant player, who gets paid off when usually tight, cautious folks finally decide to make a stand against one of my monster hands. The Grump, however, uses players like me to pry money loose from the tight-fisted players, and maybe to tilt them in the process. The Grump then exacts a tax on my style of play by forcing me off my more marginal hands. It's not a bad poker ecosystem, so long as there are plenty of drunk tourists to provide the chip-plankton to feed us both.
In any event, the Grump's recent write-up of our Venetian poker session included a thought from his dear friend, Cardgrrl: "If you showed most people what you show me ~ your humor, your kindness, your generosity, your interest, your curiosity about the world, your playfulness and creativity, and your perceptiveness ~ they would absolutely like you." Well, I can second that the Grump has all of those qualities in spades (or in crubs, if you prefer). Except for the generosity part. If I ever win a monsterpotten off the Grump, then we can reexamine his generous spirit.
Maybe I'll get the chance in a couple of weeks. If not, then our team, "The Knights Who Say 'Nit'" damn well better win the WPBT last longer challenge! Either way, I'm definitely looking forward to my next fix of the Grump.