Saturday, June 29, 2013

No. 341 – Beginnings

Performer: Jimi Hendrix
Songwriters: Jimi Hendrix
Original Release: Woodstock 2 *
Year: 1971
Definitive Version: Live at Woodstock, 1999

* Titled Jam Back at the House, both originally and on the 1994 Woodstock release.

When I moved back to Columbus in 1994, as I mentioned, I couldn’t wait to partake in the monthly poker games with my old crew. I also couldn’t wait to host an event. Being a bachelor, I could host without any worries of waking up the spouse. Those usually were the best games, because we could stay up late, talk loud and the cigar smokers could indulge without reprimand.

My turn came in the winter. We set up my dining table in the kitchen, where we had the most room under the watchful eye of two pieces of art that I thought were emblematic of the event. One was a print of The Card Players, by Cezanne, which Debbie bought for me at the Barnes exhibit in Toronto in Fall 1994. The other, a gift of my sister, was Dogs Playing Poker.

Because the game was at my place, I picked all the music (with an assist from Steve). One of the CDs was Woodstock, and I remember specifically hearing—and remarking—how crazy Hendrix’s final solo in this song was.

It ended up being quite a night, because it was the last poker game in which my buddy Mike participated. Mike had joined the poker party only just before I moved back, and I was surprised to see him. Unfortunately, he ended up being a huge loser and left early.

The game that killed him was a game called Guts. It’s a two-card game, low hand wins, and after you ante a minimal amount, the dealer would count 1 … 2 … 3. At 3, you either dropped your cards and were out for the hand or you held on to them and were in. You then could trade one card or hold on to what you had. If you win, you take the pot. If you lose, you match the pot, and if more than one person plays, the pot grows. The game ends when only one person is holding his cards. The first round was almost always an all-play to build the pot.

That night the pot grew exponentially. You might recall that at one time I held the winnings record at $29. The Guts pot that night was up to $20—a huge pot at the time. And at 1 … 2 … 3 … four, FOUR, people stayed in, which meant that one person would take $20 and three would put in $20, which was twice what the starting buy-in fee was. Mike was one of the four, and he was already down $20. He didn’t win. Now, he was down $40, and I could tell he was steaming. The pot was $60.

At that point, the game ended and we did something unprecedented and as far as I know never was repeated. We divided the pot in three and played three games of all-in Guts. I won the first hand, and I now was up like $25 for the night.

I told Mike if I won again, I’d give him the Jackson. Another guy won the second hand, and I had a great hand on the third game but lost by one card—like, a 2-5 to his 2-4—to a third person. At that point, without much word, Mike left, and, like I said, never joined us for another game.

I think it was more the idea of the losing than the actual amount, but dropping $50 in one night of “friendly” cards ultimately might have been a deal-breaker.

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