Scant weeks after poker night at Dave’s, it was time for the annual end of season golf tournament. No drink involved there, but what did involve drink was the succeeding poker night. Only myself and Chris were present from the last time, but we were joined by Phil, John and Adam at John’s place in Lymm.
I’d been saving what remained of my Maker’s Mark for this occasion, and hadn’t touched it since that first poker night – half down, half to go.
That wasn’t the only hard liquor on the go. Besides each player’s choice of beer (Holsten Pils for me, as ever), I’d taken my new el Jimador tequila that I’d been waiting to open, as well as a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year Old for Chris – his groomsman gift. Adam brought along a fresh bottle of Jack Daniels and John supplied Jameson’s Select Reserve (which comes with a cork – we agreed that’s a good sign in a bottle of whisky) and some 3 year old Havana Club.
I also supplied the Cuban cigars, despite the fact it had been John who had just spent two weeks in Cuba.
We got down to the serious business of serious drinking and serious poker.
Everyone opted for Maker’s Mark to start off with, and professed a liking for it, but that proved to be the last I saw of it. I assume the others must have kept on drinking it, because the bottle was empty when I awoke the next day.
The first hand saw every one fold quickly, with the exception of John and myself. I had a pair of sixes, and opted to follow my usual strategy of staying in until it seems foolish. You don’t want to fold, and then find that you had a winning hand.
John upped the ante with a big raise. Figuring I’d at least got something, with two cards still to be revealed, it was worth matching.
When all cards were revealed, I still only had a pair of sixes, and John went all in. I hadn’t been expecting to be faced with this outcome so early. I’d already bet so much that folding now would reduce my chances of competing in the rest of the game significantly. On the other hand, I had to gamble everything if I wanted to stay in.
I felt a pang of anger at John’s action, but quickly suppressed it, and figured at least there were two more games to come after this, so being out of this one was no big deal. I also recalled seeing John do this before, one night during the golf holiday in Spain – betting big, to cover up the fact he actually had nothing. Chris and I had let him get away with it that time. I decided to play, and see what happened.
We showed our cards. John had nothing. He’d gambled on having an ace and a queen, and I won with a pair of sixes. He was out for the rest of the game, and in one fell swoop I had all his chips and a few more.
I also won the second hand with a pair of sixes, but after that it wasn’t plain sailing. I betted cautiously and lost a few before one hand where Chris and Adam had folded, leaving Phil and myself.
Feeling I had something that was good enough to win, I tried a big raise, and that was enough to convince Phil to fold. I wondered whether I shouldn’t have increased the betting slowly to take maximum advantage, and get Phil to bet more, but it turned out that Phil would have won the hand if he’d stayed in, so I’d inadvertently made the right choice.
Eventually every remaining player was dispatched, and I emerged victorious for the first time ever. My £15 winnings was eaten up straight away by having to contribute to the pizza order. Still; free pizza!
I moved on to trying each of the other liquors that were on offer. It felt a bit cheeky having a little of Chris’ Highland Park, since it was my gift to him, but no one else seemed to have reservations. It sure is a classy malt.
I can’t say I was impressed with the Jameson’s Select Reserve (£36 at The Whisky Exchange) but I did enjoy the Havana Club. As for the Jack Daniels, it looks like my tasting skills are developing after all – this was the first time I’d ever tried it without ice, and I got a big hit of banana in there. Some reviewers go for ‘banana milkshake’, and it is almost like a soft drink, but I didn’t feel the need to be that specific. I like JD, so why does it taste of something I don’t like?
Finally, the piece de resistance… I’d been waiting for this night to crack open the 100% agave el Jimador tequila. Adam was actually the only one interested enough to give it a try, but we both liked it. It sure tastes different to your bog standard Jose Cuervo. It’s less sweet, with (for lack of better tasting skills) a darker tone to the flavour. Adam said it had a smooth taste, but I think that’s something people say when they don’t really know what they’re talking about… like, it’s got a kick to it and that stuff gets you hammered!
Well, I’m sure it wasn’t related to the booze, but I lost the next two games of poker. I was fine with that nevertheless, since I had won a game for the first time ever. I’m getting into this poker lark now, and I think I’ll try to attend one of these nights as often as possible. I’ve actually been practicing a bit online (free though, not on the actual gambling sites), and I’ve developed a couple of new strategies that I can’t wait to try out on real people. Poker can be the new golf for the winter months. It sure is a good excuse to break out the fancy booze.