It is not uncommon for me to dream about poker, but this dream was special. I have no idea why this came into mind as I slept. It was about a great home game we played years ago. It was so vivid and realistic, although it occurred about 60 years ago. Most of the players are no longer alive…

poker dream

Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, having completed my graduate school education in 1952, my wife, Irene, and I joined a Young Marrieds Group at a local temple. We made great friends with whom we shared many happy – and sad – events along the way, long after we outgrew the Young Marrieds.

Some of our members were much into the game of poker – strictly for recreation. I imagine that nowadays similar friendly home poker game groups could take form online; at least that’s what I’ve read according to usafriendlypokersites.com. Anyhow, our home game poker group had nine regular members. We started playing once a month; before long, it was every Sunday evening. The men, in their 30s and 40s at the time, were all involved in successful careers. It was hosted by Stan and his wife, Margie, in their elegant home, just north of Beverly Hills. Stan was a partner in a growing real estate business that owned several commercial buildings and planning a new high-rise luxury apartment building. His partner, Rob, was also a member of our poker group. At Stan’s house, we played on a large oval-shaped table in an oversized dining room, adjacent to the kitchen. The table easily accommodated all nine players, and we had foldable rolling carts covered with fresh white towels for the food while we played.

Each of us brought food to share. As I recall, there was thin-sliced salami, corned beef, pastrami, and Swiss cheese, rye bread and fresh bagels, and cream cheese. A large tray of tuna salad included sliced tomatoes and cucumber. Apple pie with chocolate ice cream was the dessert – the favorite of one of our members. Sid owned a famous deli in the area. (He was not a very good poker player.) We each donated $10 to our hostess, who hired a maid to help clean up and keep the place tidy.

Among the other members of our poker group was the assistant rabbi at the temple where we originally had met. The big winner most of the time was Leo, a math professor at UCLA. I recall one occasion when we queried him about using the odds, while enjoying a snack before the game began. By the way, that was my introduction to poker skills.

In those days, seven-card stud was the game. (Of course, since then Texas hold’em has become the far more popular poker variant.) Occasionally one or two of our “regulars” were not able to attend. Several of our wives, including mine, were glad to fill in. As it turned out, Irene was one of the best – usually one of the biggest winners. The game broke up about midnight. We all said our farewells, and looked ahead to next Sunday night…

As I lay in bed, smiling about those wonderful memories of long ago, I could not help but think that home poker games may soon grow even more popular – considering the higher rakes the card rooms wish to start taking in California, and the likely impact of new casino regulations being planned by local legislators. Then, I thought, “George, you better get up and start typing this story into your computer.”

Fond memories, indeed…

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