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Bill Cornelius: Knowing when to hold em Red Bluff Daily News

edit:casino time:2019-01-09

“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em. Know when to walk away, know when to run.” These are words I live by on the first Wednesday of every month when I join a group of buddies for poker night with the boys.

Poker with the boys is the laid-back version of Bunco for wives. Unlike Bunco, we don’t feel a need to remodel the house in order to host the event. In fact, we don’t care if we play poker inside the house or in the garage, so long as there is an ice chest full of beer, a couple of giant bags of Cheetos, and maybe a Giants or Warriors game on the tube.

At poker, a little cussing, belching and passing gas is allowed, if not encouraged. Though I have never actually been there, I am guessing the Bunco women do the same–but probably don’t brag about it as much as my friends and me.

I have been playing poker with the guys for the past 40 years, but I have to admit that the game has been inconsistent, at best. If I had to guess, I would give us six or seven months until the game falls apart due to this reason, that reason, or no reason at all.

When it does fall apart, I might try to find another game with higher stakes, because playing cards requires superior intelligence, patience, resolve, and nerves of steel, all qualities I possess in spades. While I have never been much of a braggart, I have to admit that I am an exceptional card player.

My first memory of gambling traces back to fourth or fifth grade at Lincoln Street School. The game of choice in those days was marbles. Most of the time we played “rings” or “holes,” but I far preferred to play holes, which required players to shoot a ball into a hole dug into the ground.

Good marble players and rich kids brought their impressive agates, puries and boulders to school in ornate hand sewn cloth bags — much like Crown Royal bags — while the rest of us carried cats’ eyes, peewees, clearies and steelies around in a sock.

When I entered high school, I upped the ante by participating in a game of chance called “closest to the line.” Actually, I didn’t play the game, as I wasn’t much good at it. Instead I bankrolled Harvey Puckett, and we split the proceeds from his winnings.

In those days, while I didn’t have much money, my mother scraped enough change together every day to see that I could buy lunch. Harvey Puckett, on the other hand, had no money at all.

Almost every day just before our crafts class in the basement of the high school, I would hand over a couple dimes and a few nickles to Harvey Puckett. After tossing the coins closer to a line on the cement floor than did his motley group of challengers, Harvey would almost always hand me back twice the amount I had fronted. Harvey Puckett was the best “closest to the line” player I ever saw.

As an adult, I have always been sort of a social gambler. While there is little risk that I will lose my children’s inheritance I have been known to sit down at the nearest $2 blackjack table if I happen to be in a gambling establishment for other reasons.


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