Hold ’em

September 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

“secret to survivin’ is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep”

I’ll admit it. When I was four years old, my favorite song was The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. I used to sing it all the time even though I had no idea what the lyrics really meant. One would think that would mark me as on the road to becoming a Poker prodigy but it never went beyond just singing along.

My dad has always been a big poker player. He learned from his dad who most likely learned from his dad. He even got one of my sisters into playing. He likes to say Poker can teach you a lot about other people. This weekend we played Texas Hold ‘Em with our neighbors and even though 3 of the 4 of us were just learning how to play, I’d say we did learn a few things about each other. More than a few of us are pretty big bluffers.

Poker is an interesting card game because while the cards you have are important, they don’t necessarily dictate who wins the game. Most of the big wins we had didn’t involve winning hands.

The stakes were pretty low with our crew. I brought over 4 rolls of pennies we gambled with. Surprisingly the one out of us who actually knew how to play was the first one out. I guess it’s hard to bet against people who are completely erratic like we were. I imagine when you play with the same group over time you really do start learning their tricks and idiosyncrasies.

Next time we’ll have to up the ante a bit.

In the cards

September 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Yesterday as part of card week I went and got my first Tarot card reading. I figure it’s a sort of right of passage living in Boulder. My friend Jessica introduced me to a reader, Linda, who she’s known since she was a child. Even though I was a little skeptical going in I really enjoyed it and have to say for an hour long session and $50 I learned a lot about myself through the cards. I think that is the interesting thing about cards. Even though you may not believe in the divinity of choosing them, they lead you to thoughtful discussion about how you’re living positively or how you’re holding yourself back.

Carl Jung was a proponent of using Tarot cards in psychoanalysis because he saw them as representing the archetypes that exist in all of us. It all depends on how you are tapping into them or allowing them to govern your behavior.

I would say my reading was pretty accurate and reflects the past 4 years of my life and where I am hoping to get to:

Present: Queen of Swords – known for perception and insight and the ability to see straight to the heart of any situation. Often depressed or dissatisfied with their inability to live up to their own high standards. Sees painful situations as learning experiences and learns from everything she does.

Immediate Challenge: Ten of Swords – “All they that take the sword will perish by the sword”. Symbolizes an unexpected failure or disaster, beyond your control that humbles you without warning or mercy. Sees self as wounded by other people and circumstances. It signals to pick yourself up off the ground and starting thinking about what happened to you and what you have to learn from it. The ideal is to draw wisdom from defeat.

Distant Past: Six of Swords (reverse) Clearing your mind and putting your thoughts in order. Distancing yourself from a painful situation so you can get new perspective. With distance it is possible to see the larger pattern and start making sense of what you can do about it.

Recent Past: The Hermit (reverse) Creating too much resistance and refusing to listen to counsel, creating a tension you are experiencing. Man is anything but a desert unless in the process of separating in order to find himself he gets lost. He must then depend on the light of another, in grace, to bring him back.

Best Outcome: The World (reverse) You have slowed down to a stop because of your refusal to explore new horizons. You may be at a standstill but the freedom of the World exists in potential and you will feel it when you feel ready to begin the dance of life again. Be willing to express yourself completely and trust in the power given to you. Don’t worry about what others might say.

Immediate Future: Three of Cups – The influence of community is strong in this card. It represents spending happy time in the company of friends and family and celebrating success together. Taking time out from stress and daily hassles to enjoy life.

Factors Affecting the Situation: Nine of Cups – Known as the Wish Card, it is typically a sign whatever your heart’s desire is it will be granted in the coming days. It shows that joy and happiness are within  your grasp and you probably already have them so enjoy the abundance of life for as long as it lasts.

External Influences: Eight of Swords (reverse) – Begin your freedom. Take the blindfold off and allow yourself to clearly see how you have created the situation you are experiencing. You have tremendous potential for focusing on creative and innovative ideas. Stop backing yourself into a corner and be free to forge ahead. Believe.

Inner influence: The Fool – The fool is unmoulded potential, pure and innocent. He simply goes on his way, and does not care what others say about him. He lives an unconventional life doing what is comfortable for him. The fool does not hide himself from the light because he is the light similar to the light that shines out from every child before they build barriers around themselves. The Fool always stands for new beginnings, new choices.

Final Outcome: Queen of Coins (reverse) – Sometimes you need to step back and let others take on the load. Your tendency to mother might feel more like smothering to others so you need to step back and let them care for themselves. The time you may be spending investing too much in others may be causing you to neglect yourself.


Lady luck

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Fortuna, goddess of luck, was smiling on me yesterday. I’ve always been more of the mind that you make your own luck but there’s something fun about ponying up to a table and seeing how you net out. I’m no big gambler by any means, but I do like to play Blackjack from time to time. I realize the house still has the advantage, but it’s nice to think there’s some skill involved in minimizing that advantage in your favor.

I’ve never attempted to count cards to win at Blackjack but when learning I found it helpfulto use a card that shows what you should do given your hand and the dealer’s hand. It takes a little while to get in the rhythm of it but you do start learning it. I was nervous the first time I played at an actual table but the dealers and other players are usually pretty kind in telling you what you should do.

Last night I went with a friend to test my luck in Black Hawk, a town with an interesting history about 30-40 min away from Boulder. It is one of the oldest cities in Colorado and grew up in “Gregory’s Gulch”, one of a string of towns connected to a lode gold discovery in 1859.

Not surprisingly when people stopped striking it lucky with gold, the town started to deteriorate like many other towns in Colorado. In the early 90s the city leaders made their own luck by banding together with other small towns to get an initiative passed on the Colorado ballot that would allow limited stakes gambling in the commercial districts of the towns, with much of the proceeds going towards historic preservation efforts statewide.

The Colorado hills continue to be a place you can go to “strike it rich” and yesterday I didn’t do too bad for myself. Let’s just say I doubled my “investment”. Time to go shopping.

By your lonesome

September 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Playing cards is always more fun with other people, but Solitaire isn’t all that bad. This week I didn’t just want to play the same old boring game of basic Solitaire, so I decided to learn some other one player games.

I learned a game called Clock I really like. You basically deal out one 52 card deck into 13 hands of 4 and then arrange them like the hours on the clock with one deck in the center.

The object is to get matching piles of each corresponding number in the right place on the clock. Jacks are 11:00 and Queens are 12:00. Kings go in the center deck.

You start by turning over the top center deck card. Whatever the value it is you put it face up on the bottom of the corresponding time on the clock. So if it is an Ace, it would go under the 1:00 deck face up. You then take the top card from that deck and place it under the corresponding deck. You continue in that fashion trying to make all the hours on the clock before you fill the Kings deck in the center. When the 4th king is drawn the game is over. It’s not an easy game to win for sure, but it has a certain amount of suspense to it and it’s a nice change of pace from the same old game of solitaire.


52 cards

September 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Becoming a card shark may be pushing it this week but at the very least I want to learn more about playing cards. The week I learned about chess I thought how fascinating it is that there are certain games that have existed for centuries that people still play today despite the advent of technology. In many cases technology continues to spur them on. Card games were some of the first apps to show up on the iPhone.

Playing cards were first invented in China as early as the 9th century and came about simultaneously as the development of using sheets of paper vs a long role of parchment as a writing medium.

Originally cards had a variety of suits but the 4 used today originated in France (c. 1480) – hearts, diamonds, spades, clubs. It is also believed the ability of the Ace to surpass the value of the royal cards originated during the French Revolution.  At that time the royal cards were also replaced with cards that reflected the ideals of the Revolution – Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. Those were short-lived with the rise of Napoleon.

While cards were probably invented as a diversion, by the 17th century, there was a name that became applied to those people who used cards to swindle less experienced players, “card sharp”, more commonly known as “card shark”.

Playing cards, like playing chess, is not only a game but a reflection of life. When I did ancestry week my dad told me how he learned poker from his father and how it taught you a lot about other people and their character. They had a poker night where one of the guys who worked for his father had cheated and got caught by the group. The next day my grandfather fired him because he felt if that guy was willing to cheat in a game of cards he didn’t want that kind of person working for him.

Cards reveal. They show whether someone is cool under pressure, whether they’re a graceful winner or a sore loser. Beyond the realm of play, it’s fascinating how many people look to Tarot at what’s “in the cards” to tell them about how their future will unfold.

I don’t expect to be a card shark by the end of the week or to put my fate in the hands of the cards, but I’d like to become more proficient. At the very least I’ll be better equipped to ward off the sharks:

1) Card games – I know a few games here and there but I want to get to a point where if I’m looking to pass the time I can pick up a deck and have a few games to choose from.

2) Poker – I have never played poker and I’d like to get a group of friends together for a poker night. I’ll have to save that for the end of the week so I can work on my hustle a bit.

3) Card trick – I think everyone, at the very least, should know one good joke and one good card trick to share. While I don’t have either currently in my repertoire I’m going to work on the card trick this week.

4) Tarot – I think it would be fun to see what’s “in the cards” for my future this week. There are multiple readers on Pearl St. here in Boulder (surprise) and it would also be fun to try a reading on my own.

5) Tables – I’d like to hit the Blackjack tables at Black Hawk. Blackjack is the one card game I know how to play fairly well, but I’ve never tried the tables here in Colorado. I’ll have to agree with my husband on what my limit is before I go.


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