Sunday, January 8

 
Poker And Its Derivatives

The Outrageous

I'd spent my Saturday pickin up card skills from the popular card game Poker and its various mutations...

micheLe's beautiful colleague of Czech/Fillipino descent Kayleen had invited us over to her brand new house in Albion (a Western suburb of Melbourne) where she shares it with her fiance Phuc...a good-natured Vietnamese bloke who's likes a good laugh...we've gone out several times before...so it was hardly uncomfortable...

To say poker's popularity among the Australian community is growin is almost an insult to passionate card gamers and gamblers alike...the game is popular across all age groups...and many summer days are not complete without a poker night...Australian
Joe Hachem significantly improved Poker's regional and international profile when he became World Champion in Las Vegas last July...

A Poker enthusiast...Phuc had also invited his cousins and friends (fellow Poker freaks i must add) for a night of merry-wheelin and chips countin...i was psyched...

I must admit...before yesterday...ive never played Poker in my life...i am aware of the winning combinations and hands...y'know...the Royal Flushes and the Full Houses...but from where i came from...Poker just isnt a game regular Singaporeans would sit down and have a cuppa over...

What Singaporeans are really adept at though...is the Hong Kong-style mutation of Poker...affectionately called Chor Tai Tee...rules and winning hands are almost similar to Poker...but where Poker (in it's basic variant) is played with 5 cards...Chor Tai Tee is played with 13 cards...i wasnt great at the game...but i could play it well...

Australians call Chor Tai Tee '13'...a name i thought quite reminded me of those nights readin horror tales of the unlucky number...i havnt played '13' for over a year...so when an open invitation from one of the tables filtered through my ears...i put aside my barbequed chicken wing...pulled up a chair and dived for an opportunity to outwit the Australians and Viets...

To my shock and horror...i found myself scramblin for the rule books after a round of Chor Tai Tee...apparently i had not prepared myself for what was another variant of Poker...the Vietnamese-style mutation...or Tienlen...and that's what everyone was playin...

In it's essence...Tienlen is played like Chor Tai Tee...but the denominations (the Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts and Aces) are completely reversed...also...any permutations is possible...a 4-straight (eg. 3,4,5,6) is possible...more outrageous is the emasculation of the all powerful 4-of-a-Kind (eg. 4 Kings)...in Tienlen a 4-of-a-kind loses to a straight...WTF...

If you're still readin this...it gets more interestin...Tienlen allows players to intercept...or 'chop'...with a 'chop' the player is able to counterattack the biggest card (in Tienlen and Chor Tai Tee the biggest denomination is a 2) placed by the previous player with pairs that run consecutively...

So there i was...havin to sit by the table listenin to this brand new rules of a game i thought i knew and played for over 12 years like i was some kind of newbie...it was like havin my guts ripped open and havin them used to hang myself...

Amazin thing is...after several rounds...i'd not only fully understood the Vietnamese/Australian strain of mutation...i also began to win...which was simply ludicrous...i still think...at the point of writin...that it was simply down to a good hand of cards...some luck and lots and lots of patience to fathom the ridiculous...

I mean...a Diamond beatin an Ace? WTF?!

Then there was Poker...Poker is a game i took to immediately...the rules are simple...as long as you know the winnin combinations and possessed some kind of luck...you could win the pot...

'Poker face' is a term we commonly use to describe a person's countenance that's devoid of emotions...i like to define 'poker face' as 'an euphemism for lying'...raisin 20 chips and seein you another 10 chips for a 5 and a 7? No worries mate...

I didnt win any money from Poker...but i did gain a new found respect for card games and Charles Darwin...why the bloke himself? You see...he's most famous for his
Evolution Theory...and if someone had told him that somethin as regular and dead as a deck of cards could possibly 'evolve' into different variations of what is essentially the same game...he'd have knocked himself silly with Isaac Newton's apple...

Card games are rather fascinatin themselves...they're not expensive to produce and hardly the things people would collect...but the hold and appreciation of 52 pieces of stiff, glossy paper that's enthralled people for generations does give me somethin to think about...

A deck of cards...best invention ever?


P.S: Joe Hachem is in town for the Crown Australian Poker Championship...do check him out if you a) are in Melbourne, b) are a Poker fan, c) are a Poker groupie, d) are just darn bored or e) have gotten interested in Poker...

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