The Uphill Slide

There is always something.



My friend’s been learning to play poker for a while and loving it. I don’t know how to play, don’t know what the hands are or what beats what. Someone tried to teach me once, but I just don’t seem to have the knack, or I just didn’t give that game of chance a chance. I never really liked card games growing up. Occasionally I played with my friend, but she was a sore loser; so I never wanted to win. My grandmother taught me to play Flinch when I was visiting her. She didn’t have a television, so she had to entertain me with other things like letting me bang on the piano and teaching me to play Flinch and Chinese Checkers.

My mother played bridge once a month with friends until players started dying off leaving the tables short on players. I never asked her to teach me that game that just seemed too complicated. Anyway, the best part of those card parties were the sweet desserts served at the finish. I helped serve, and then served myself.

My husband plays poker every Thursday night, and I’ll keep secret the little stories he told me. I suppose he always liked to gamble, but we never even visited the casino in our trip to Atlantic City the December before our May marriage. Later, though, on family vacations to Niagara Falls and Las Vegas, he snuck out during the night to visit the tables.

I stick to nickel slots afraid to gamble big or lose big. Still, I don’t quit when I’m ahead. I keep playing until I’m back to zero. Probably good I’m not a gambler, since I don’t know when to quit. I really just like to gamble little with the chance of winning big in the Pennsylvania Lottery. I know the odds are astronomical, but still somebody always wins eventually. It might be interesting to know how much those winners gambled to win. Was it just one ticket or $20 worth of tickets every week? But the lottery is about the extent of my gambling life, at least gambling with money. Oh wait, I trade in the stock market too. And then I buy tickets from friends for a chance to win something. I guess I am a gambler after all.

My husband has tells that reveal his excitement or nervousness or boredom. I don’t think he knows them; maybe he doesn’t reveal them at card games, but just to family. I suppose everyone has tells. My daughter has them; cleaning her room was always the tell that she was going to ask to go out. I wonder what mine are. I will get my kids to observe me more closely and let me in on my tells. I need to know so I can control them if I get in a situation when I need to play it close to the vest or bluff a little. You never know when you’ll need to take a gamble.



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