Texas Hold’em Poker Table
|By Richard Manning, Jr.
Your nervous system dissolves into a jangled menagerie of twitches. Your mouth
is filled with the taste of aorta. The antiperspirant you applied earlier in
the morning suddenly goes on strike. Then after several minutes that feel as if
they got stuck in a sadistic time warp of sorts, a cold burst of relief rumbles
through your body like a flash flood over baked, cracked soil. Finally, you get
to blurt out the words that you’ve somehow managed to keep wrangled to the back
of your throat: “Full House, queens over eights.” The gentleman to your right
mumbles some expletive laced sentence about that third lady of yours coming on
the river as he whips his pocket kings across the felt in disgust, while the
other players compliment you on your gutsy decision to go all in. You
immediately flag down the cocktail waitress and plead for the most potent drink
allowed in the state.
Just another typical night around the Texas Hold’em poker table.
Different people will give you a host of different reasons why Hold’em has
skyrocketed to the nation’s most popular poker game: Easy to play; the instant
legend of Chris Moneymaker; addiction to Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker.” While they
are all valid reasons to dive into the game, there has to be a hook at the
table that plunges into the player’s mind, something more substantial than the
thought of a twentysomething accountant from Tennessee cleaning house against
the game’s big boys. As odd as it may sound to some, Hold’em’s ability to cause
your body to briefly simulate a serious medical condition is that dangling
carrot that keeps players ready to nibble. Chances are, those who don’t
understand why people would put themselves through such torment have never
played the game, and as long as they don’t play, they never will realize that
winning a hand with a big, brave bet is worth all the nerve fraying and heart
pounding. Especially when that much needed queen swims up the river.