>>> Bang for Your Buck
By staff writer David Nelson

April 15, 2007

Essential New Word of the Week: Ancestors! (definition hint: breakaway distraction)

There are precious few hobbies that are even remotely attractive to the opposite sex. If you show a girl your collection of Magic cards, it’s going to be a long,uphill battle to then have sex with her. There are more practical hobbies, like gardening, but girls won’t care unless you’re growing something more fun than, say, cherry tomatoes. And that’s really more of a part-time job than a hobby.

Even the word “hobby” has geeky connotations. When I say “hobbyist,” you naturally picture a walking cesspool of acne carrying a bag of strange dice, and sporting a layer of atrophied blubber for drip-fed sustenance. And a “hobby store” is where these specimens congregate when mom’s basement gets too stuffy. It’s nice that they have a place to go, but, face it, they might as well leave their genitals behind.

With this in mind, many have been forced to find a hobby that won’t result in perpetual celibacy. As it happens, poker has been gaining popularity, and it’s a fine choice. Thanks to the recent airing of approximately one bajillion poker shows on TV, many young people are joining the ranks of what used to be the exclusive domain of doughy guys in trucker hats.

“When I’m chatting up a girl, I’ll find a way to mention that I’m a wealthy model/ cunnilingus professor.”

I’m not that good at poker, but I have been playing for a long time, well before it’s current surge. In that time, I’ve learned that if you appear knowledgeable enough, doors will open for you. It’s a great way to meet girls, make new friends, advance your career, and even deflect attention away from more serious addictions, like shopping, or Oxycontin. All the information you’ll ever need is contained in this article.

Sure it’s a cliché, but poker is a lot like sex. For one thing, I would like to do it every day, but that’s not going to happen until I have a lot more disposable income. Also, everyone claims to be good at it, but fellow participants soon learn that’s all talk. Actually, poker and sex have a non-metaphorical bond for me. Have you ever seen the tits on that Queen of Clubs? I would so do her (What can I say? I got a thing for the black chicks).

Texas Hold ‘Em is often called the purest form of poker, which sounds a bit too much like Nazi propaganda for my liking. You can study the game by watching TV, but stay away from Celebrity Poker Showdown. If you’re taking money management advice from the likes of Matthew Perry, you’re in way over your head.

Unfortunately, movies aren’t any more helpful. The heroes of movies like Rounders, Maverick, Oceans Eleven, and yes, even Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler always have something at stake other than money. So unless you’re playing to save your grandma’s house in an elaborate scheme to rob a casino while seducing Jodie Foster, the silver screen isn’t going to be of any help.

The best way to study the game is to read about it. There are lots of books available, but I would recommend Doyle Brunson’s Super System. You can recognize Brunson on the cover of his book as the cowboy stereotype that has magically come to life. Doyle is in the Poker Hall of Fame, which is where the great Pete Rose should set his sights next. At least he’ll never receive a lifetime ban for gambling.

Another author I would recommend is Phil Hellmuth, officially called “The Bad Boy of Poker.” He’s an accomplished player, but being dubbed the “Bad Boy” of Poker is a lot like being called the Most Handsome Sheep Molester of New Zealand—you only won the title because no one else entered the stupid contest, and it probably shouldn’t have been held in the first place.

For insomniacs, compulsive gamblers, and America’s many hyper-obese shut-ins, internet poker is the greatest invention of all time, next to motorized wheelchairs and stretch pants. Enthusiasts play for hours at a time, subsisting entirely on Doritos and Mountain Dew. Like masturbation, internet poker can be fun, but it’s lacking in social benefits.

In fact, an internet player’s only form of communication with the outside world is an occasional comment of “NH,” meaning “nice hand.” Of course, it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong, and “NH” represents an awareness campaign from the New Hampshire board of tourism. Well, I still don’t know anything about New Hampshire except that people from there talk funny, and it’s where Benjamin Franklin defeated all the space lizards.

Bluffing is an art form that takes years to master. But the good news is, you can practice in non-poker settings. For example, when I’m chatting up a girl, I’ll find a way to mention that I’m an independently wealthy model/cunnilingus professor. You might call this lying out my ass, but I just call it poker practice. And since practice makes perfect, I’ll follow up by insisting the baby can’t be mine since I had a vasectomy.

Professional players wear sunglasses in dark, smoky casinos, and it’s not always to hide drug-induced dilation or botched plastic surgery. They want to avoid “tells,” involuntary gestures which broadcast the relative strength of one’s hand. The eyes are one of the biggest tells in poker. Some people blink excitedly when they have a good hand, others might squint. Maybe that’s why Eskimos are such good players.

The next time you lovingly gaze into the beautiful eyes of your sweetheart during sex, just imagine she’s holding pocket jacks or better. That way, you’ll know what to look for at the poker table. Besides sunglasses, another way to conceal tells is to wear a Zorro-style mask. The Mexicans atthe table may not like it, but at least they can be mollified with taco sauce.

One of the weirdest things about poker is all the jargon that’s become associated with it. If you’re unable to learn all of this fruity terminology, just fake it. If you talk of limping in with a nut flush on fifth street, you’ll convince most casual players. And the rest will assume you’re just talking about the whorehouse where you once caught chlamydia.

Learning the jargon is one thing, but if you really want to pass as a poker expert, be sure to learn chip tricks (not to be confused with Cheap Trick, writers of such awesome hits as “Dream Police.”) Spin ‘em, stack ‘em, clickety clack ‘em. The minute you can shuffle a stack of chips together, girls will know you’re good with your fingers. Which is important for some reason.

So, put in some practice, scare your friends with phrases like check-raising the pre-flop pastrami hasslehoff, and you’ll be ready for an actual casino poker tournament. Sure you’ll lose, but you’ll be part of an entire community of losers. Chicks love a gritty underdog story. Plus, you’ll probably walk away with a few free drinks and snazzy new Caesar’s Palace pen.

Poker has now been accepted as a bona fide hobby, equal to any sport, despite the fact that it takes more athleticism to operate a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. Even if you never get a trophy from the World Series of Poker, any trophy store will sell you a secondhand one and engrave it for low, low prices.

But there’s more at stake than money and trophies. Poker has become so mainstream, you can’t afford not to learn it. It’s a test of courage, willpower, and finesse; the human equivalent of that thing where deer bash their antlers together. Just remember, even if you’re a feeble, impotent loser, you’re only one good hand away from being the Alpha male.

Essential New Word of the Week:

Ancestors! interj [‘ænsEst rz]

In my younger years, I played a lot of street hockey, which, according to government propaganda, is a very Canadian pastime. Like most hockey teams, we weren’t exactly an ethnically diverse lot, but there was one Asian. And you can be sure we treated him with all the cultural sensitivity youmight expect from a group of violent teenage hooligans.

Actually, it wasn’t as bad as all that. We mostly limited ourselves to funny observations, like how his ancestors in the land ofwind and ghosts would help him guide the Golden Dragon (the puck) into the Jade Temple (the net). Trust me, when you’re 18 and drunk on Molson, this material is hilarious.

And he was a pretty good hockey player; a really speedy guy. One time, with him on the other team and the hilarity of his ethnic differences fresh on our minds, he made a breakaway for the net. Nobody was going to catch him. So, a quick-thinking teammate made a last-ditch effort to distract him by simply yelling out “Ancestors!!!” It was the perfect blend of poor sportsmanship and jovial racism, and it stopped the Chungking Express dead in his tracks. Ever since then, “Ancestors!” has been the cry of choice, when the situation calls for a diversion.