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Monday, May 24, 2004

OK, now for Plan B....

A while back I was struggling with a short story involving a kind of hobo who goes from city to city, partaking in this sort-of underground high-stakes poker society that nobody knows about. I mean, this isn't your "penthouse in Vegas" game, but a game played purely by hoboes and homeless men for the sheer purity of the game. Bets are probably made in cigarettes, much like in The Shawshank Redemption. (There was going to be a supernatural element to all this, as well. And I had the perfect title, "Be A Lady, Tonight", although I'm sure that the song this title quotes -- "Luck Be a Lady" -- is under copyright, and I'd have to get permission for use.)

The problem I kept running into was the card-playing scenes. I don't know the first thing about poker, and while I've never been one to really allow my ignorance of a subject to keep me from writing about it, I figured that I should at least try to get some of the details right. Then I read Aaron's latest post, in which he describes how he went looking for a good game of poker the other night, and seeing all the terminology, I realize: I'd rather just make the story about some other card game than do the heavy lifting of making it about poker. I have no idea at all what Aaron is talking about. (He does link a glossary, for those so inclined. I, in a startling display of uncurious mind, was not.)

This might actually make sense, though: maybe an underground secret society arranged around a card game would make more sense if the game wasn't poker, but something a bit less well-known -- say, "500" or Euchre. (I wouldn't do Hearts, since Stephen King already covered Hearts in "Hearts In Atlantis", which is a very fine story in its own right.) Or I could just make up a card game, although that would put things too far into the fantasy realm for the story I have in mind.

Anyway, check out Aaron's post. Poker sounds like it might be fun, were it not for the fact that I am one of the worst card players who ever lived. Aaron could probably tell you all how bad a card player I was in college, if he were so inclined. I was never good at mentally tabulating exactly who had played what card, and how many of what suit had been played, and so on. I can hold my own against my own computer in the version of Hearts that comes with Windows, but that's about it. And I can almost always win Freecell, but that's more of a puzzle-solving thing, since it is believed that all possible deals of Freecell are winnable. I was more of a chess kind of guy. (Not that I was all that good at chess, either, although I would get pretty tenacious now and then. Especially when a certain room-mate would try out some spectacularly unorthodox opening against me, and I just had to figure out how to beat it.)

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