Misadventures in Wonderland: Pub poker tournament
This month we sent Alice to a pub poker tournament. So what lessons did she take away from it?
1. There are poker groups everywhere but if you’re not looking for them, you won’t see them.
I initially stumbled into the wrong match: I turned up at a wine bar with a few ‘mum’s church friends’ types, playing cards, drinking rosé and talking about HRT. I went outside to ‘make a phone call’ and never came back. I wanted the real deal. I felt like James Bond with a briefcase full of loose diamonds or condoms or whatever it is that he carries.
2. Poker is the kind of game that really lets the socially inept flourish.
After announcing to a group of 20 or so people, already immersed in their game, that I was ‘here to win’, I bought my chips and sat down to a mix of ‘hellos’ and stony silences. In the land of bluffing blank faces, the introverts rule. The more awkwardly I got ignored, the quicker I’d fold.
3. The most powerful stereotypes are reversed stereotypes.
I’d planned on wearing an eye patch, maybe smoking a cigar with a hook. Instead I wore a plain t-shirt and jeans and bought a pint of lager tops. My fellow players included a man in a suit, a possible Blink 182 member, a bodybuilder, a good-looking girl in a tiny sports dress and a ‘Mother Superior from Trainspotting' look-a-like. If I was trying to design a diverse range of characters for my own poker video game, I couldn’t have done better.
4. It’s never going to be OK to wear sunglasses indoors.
If you have to wear shades because can’t control what your eyes are doing and are scared that the sociopaths around you can read your mind, a poker game is the least of your worries.
5. Addiction is something very real and it can happen almost instantly.
I love smoking; I smoke every day. I’m clever enough to know that my love of smoking is purely addiction based, but not clever enough to stop. I did once get addicted to cashew nuts and Judge Judy so I’m not sure what dabbling in gambling will hold for my future. When I ran out of chips (after going all in with a 7 and a 2), I flirted shamelessly with the Swedish guy next to me in the hope he would give me just one more hit. He didn’t. I understand how gambling ruins lives. I also now know how Swedish people ruin lives because that one chip could’ve won me a thousand more and I would’ve been rich.
The Black Cat Poker night takes place in Bon Accord, Glasgow, every Thursday