My Poker Pals

My buddy Stan called.

“Are you a snob?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” I told him.

“Good,” he said, “that clears that up.”

A long moment of silence followed.

These moments are common during my conversations with Stan. I tell myself it helps to clear his head but in my more honest moments, I tell myself it is my head that needs clearing.

“Why do you ask?”

“There were doubts.”

After another long moment of silence, I asked, “Who has doubts?”

“Remember the guys we used to play cards with?”

“I do.”

“Remember Walt​?”

Who could forget him?

Walt lived in the basement of our building when Stan and I shared an apartment. There were no living areas in the basement but he lived there anyway.

Walt did not like paying rent.

He did not like working either.

What he liked was to get high and mooch off of others but he was such a lovable character that no one seemed to mind. Still he always managed to get himself into trouble.

When I went to work for the Minneapolis Police, I discovered that the Records Unit devoted an entire shelf to Walt.

It was a shrine of sorts.

Everyone, including the police, hoped that one day Walt would adjust to the world but he never did. He insisted that one day the world would adjust to him. When Colorado legalized his drug of choice, he moved out there. I suppose in that sense, he knew more about the world than we did.

“Never knew Walt to be judgmental,” I observed.

“He isn’t,” Stan said, “it was Sid who raised the question.”

Ah, Sidney. Another unforgettable character.

Sid was not as lovable as Walt because he tended to walk off with things that were not his.  In some quarters that is considered stealing, hence his MPD record packet, though considerable, was not as thick as Walt’s – but his Bureau of Corrections folder more than made up for it.

“Remember playing poker with Walt and Sid?” Stan asked.

I did.

“Well, I’m here with them now – but we bet you are too much of a snob to join us.”

“Uh Stan,” I asked, “are you in jail again?”

“Nothing serious,” he told me… then he put his hand over the receiver before coming back on the line, “and Sid says to tell you it wasn’t my fault.”

Again he muffled the phone….

“Nor his.”

“How is it that you are calling me?” I asked.  I know that jails confiscate cell phones.

“It’s Andy’s phone.”

That made sense.

Andy was another friend from the old neighborhood who also spent a great deal of time in jail – but that was because he became a defense attorney.

He keeps in regular touch with Stan, Walt and Sid.

“He has been playing cards with us all afternoon but he has to go – leaving an empty chair.”

“Uh Stan?”


“I’ll pass.”


Author: Almost Iowa

37 thoughts on “My Poker Pals”

  1. Sometimes being a snob is a good thing! I’ve played poker, off and on, for a couple of years with the same group of women. And no matter how many times I try to teach them how to play a simple game of five-card draw, they still don’t really know how to play. I spend most of the evening issuing instructions, which is just as fun as it sounds. Yet your poker group makes my poker group look very, very good.

    1. For poker, all is that is important is the poker face. It is where all the fun is….. Heck, just hold up a handful of cards and stare stone-faced at each other. The guys I play with can do that for days.

  2. You might have had a bit more of a challenge getting in than the defense attorney. I’d have wondered if they wanted me or my money… 🙂 Fun tale. –Curt

    1. You might have had a bit more of a challenge getting in

      And therein lies the critical factor. For some it is hard to get in, for others it is a challenge to stay out.

  3. If only they’d been playing Monopoly, Greg. They could have gotten ‘get out of jail free’ cards. Then you could have hosted the poker game in your basement showing them once and for all that you are not a snob!

    1. Something I heard a long time ago – and proved to be correct. “Don’t worry about X,Y and Z, by the time they turn 40, they will be paragons of virtue” or another way of putting it, there is nothing worse than a reformed sinner.

  4. I’ve never played poker, and I’ve never been in jail, but I know what it’s like to need a 4th for bridge. That sort of situation can lead to a pretty intensive search.

    1. I often found it amazing how we can meet an old friend who we have not seen in decades and it is as if not a moment has gone by.

      Though uh…… I did make the mistake once of mistaking a girl I went to school with for her mother. That did not go over well.

    1. In the truest sense of the word, it is called diversity.

      In the old days the MPD selected officer candidates by forming a line of applicants ordered by size – then hiring from the left. Now days the candidate has to be a college graduate. Usually, they have studied law enforcement with an emphasis on sociology or psychology. While they come in every shape, color and gender, a much better selection criteria than size, they often lack street sense and end up patrolling like an occupying army.

      I remember my old Sargent growling at a young officer, “So you learned that in college, didtchya?”

    1. Sid would never let friendship stand between him and anything that sparkles. Stan is much the same way, he likes to walk off with things but then he returns them, usually to the wrong person.

    1. It wouldn’t do him much good to call Daphne. Their first conversation on the matter went like this:

      “Hey honey, I’m in jail…”


    1. It used to be that you could play for cigarettes then them nasty state representatives in Saint Paul declared all public buildings, including jails, as no smoking areas. Do they have to wreck everything?

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