By: Kent Anderson


On a recent trip, North to San Francisco I stopped in at the Oaks Card Club, an historic location where I was taught, but didn’t always learn some very expensive lessons in college. I had left Los Angeles late and arrived in Emeryville during the wee hours. I found a seat in the 6 – 12 game. The game was unremarkable and I was shattered from the drive so I was out with a small profit after a few hours. But there was this guy. He was hovering over a steaming plate of Buffalo wings at one end of the table and I was hovering over the short stack at the other. A couple of hands passed and then the action abruptly stopped at the Colonel.


There was a moment as he realized he needed to look at his cards. He instinctively grabbed a juicy wing and seamlessly inserted it into his mouth, considered his cards for a second and then withdrew the cleanest chicken bone I’ve ever seen. His hands were another matter, the unclaimed residual Buffalo muck and untold other horrors were now on the hole cards and the handful of checks he threw in the pot. I looked on with disbelief and we made eye contact. He gargled through his chicken laden gullet, “Want one?”. I said, “Don’t sweat it, I’ll just have the bits you left on the cards.” We got a new set up and the game went on.


The point of this story, beyond the gross out factor. There are two points actually. The first is that I have observed a lot of tableside dining over the years and there is nothing worse than a player who holds up the game while stuffing their grill except maybe the player who slathers remnants from their feast all over the cards and checks. Add to this the offensive smell released by some of these casino entrees, and well you get my emphasis. While this could be part of a potentially successful strategy, people are generally so into their eats they are oblivious.

ZebraThe second point will require you to envision the African savannah and wildlife documentaries you may have seen. Like food in the casino, water is life’s blood in the African bush. Animals will undertake harrowing journeys, especially during the dry season to reach watering holes. Irrespective of the danger encountered en route, they are at the most risk once they reach the water source and are forced into vulnerable positions while drinking.


Lions and other predators are waiting in and around the water. A split second is all it takes to become dinner or a late afternoon snack. I think a lot of poker players are similarly at risk while eating and drinking at the table. A split second is all it takes to lose all your checks and become dinner or a late afternoon snack for some shark swimming around the felt. Until next time…

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