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TIC TAC DOUGH

Recently, a friend of mine lent me a book entitled “New Poker Games” by Mike Caro.  Since this book was originally published in 1984, the word new is now probably irrelevant.  Nonetheless, most of the games in the book were new to me.  A few of the games looked quite challenging, but I have yet to suggest any of these games to fellow players in any of the home games in which I play.

The game I found most intriguing was a game Mike Caro called Tic Tac Hold ’em.  Like Hold ’em, it can be played with many participants.  Mike Caro rates this game as complexity, “medium to great;” luck factor, “medium.”

In Tic Tac Hold ’em, each player is dealt two face-down cards as in Hold ’em. Then nine common cards are placed  in the center of the table:

                                            C    D    E
                                            A    I   B
                                           F   G   H
Cards A and B are face-up; the others, face-down.  There is an initial round of betting.
Then, cards C D E are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, cards F G H are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, card I is turned face-up. There is a final round of betting.
Players may use the two cards from their hand with any of the following combination of cards (Think of Tic Tac Toe.):  Any three in a row, in a column, or diagonally.  That’s it–like Hold ’em with many more variables.

Every so often, one of our poker-playing group hosts an evening of $1-$2, No-Limit Hold ’em.  He gets more than 25 players and manages a very professional three-table tournament.   As losers drop out, they form a cash game.  Other than that, Hold ’em gets little or no action in our home poker games.  I have not (as yet)introduced Tic Tac Hold ’em.  So, I decided to experiment with the Tic Tac Hold ’em concept and developed Tic Tac Dough, an Omaha hi-lo (with a little twist) version.

Tic Tac Dough 

Process:
Each player receives four cards, face-down. Then nine common cards are placed in the center of the table:

                                            C    D    E
                                            A    I   B
                                           F   G   H
Cards A and B are face-up; the others, face-down.  There is an initial round of betting.
Then, cards C D E are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, cards F G H are turned face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, card I is turned face-up. There is a final round of betting.
Players must use only two cards (of their four) from their hand with any of the following combination of cards (Think of Tic Tac Toe.):  Any three in a row, in a column, or diagonally.  Best five-card, high-hand splits with best five-card, 8-or-better  low-hand. 
Now, for the twist!  Though two cards from player’s hand may and must be always used for the high hand, there is a possibility for player to use three cards from his/her hand for low.  If there is no possible 8-or-better low-hand combination to be formed by using two cards in player’s hand and three cards on the table, then, player may use three cards in his/her hand and two cards in a row, in a column, or diagonally.  Of course, if there are not two or three low cards in a row, column, or a diagonal; then, there is no low hand possible.
Though the game gets plenty of action, it has not gained much popularity.
GAME: TIC TAC DOUGH
RANKING: Five ÅÅÅÅÅ
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FIVE-TWO-C

It was a simple game.  Probably still is. We just don’t play it anymore.  This game was in effect long before I joined the on-going Thursday night game, that was the first weekly poker game I became part of since moving to Massachusetts in 1970. FIVE-TWO-C was the mainstay of the game. Each hand seemed to take an eternity to play, since, after all cards were dealt and replacement cards were distributed, there was a declaration round followed by yet  another round of betting.  How long it took to play each hand was secondary to the yucks and camaraderie of this game in its earlier years.  There was an interesting mix of players. A few were excellent; the majority just there to have a great night with the boys. No wonder we didn’t care about how long it took to play a hand, game had no definite quitting time–going sometimes past 4:00 A. M.

FIVE-TWO-C is basically a five-card stud game with a common and two replaces after all cards have been dealt. [Hence, five (cards dealt to each player), two (replacement cards), and a common (community card).] It is a declare game as well, increasing the chances that there could be an additional round of betting after the declare.

Process:
Each player receives one card down and one card up.  There is a round of betting.
Each player then receives another card face-up. There is another round of betting.
Then, there is a common card. There is another round of betting.
Each player then receives a card face-up. There is another round of betting.
Each player then receives a face-down, fifth card of his/her own. There is another round of betting.
Then, each player has the opportunity to exchange a card for a new one. There is another betting round.
There is then another opportunity to replace a card.  There is another round of betting.
Then there is a declaration round.  Best high hand splits pot with best low hand.
There are seven rounds of betting before declaration. Game generates large pots, especially if players must pay for their replacement cards.
GAME: FIVE-TWO-C
RANKING: Six ÅÅÅÅÅÅ

 It was the fall of 2006. Though the individuals were not all the same, it was our group’s second visit to Las Vegas. All of us were poker players. Some of us had gone in May, 2006 as well, frolicking and echoing lines from “Animal House”–though years past our prime.

The fall, 2006 trip included six, of which five were from the Wednesday night poker game in which I played. The sixth, a good friend of a few of the other attendees and brother-in-law of one as well, was a guy I had never before met. I had heard his name mentioned in various humorous stories. He used to play in a long-running poker game–a previous incarnation of our Wednesday night game. It was a pleasure to meet him. He exuded friendship. His round, full face seemed to have a perennial smile. We immediately started to bond. While old stories were being repeated, new tales were being spun. This tale is as memorable as he was. Rather than use actual names, I’ll call him Gill.

We were staying at Harrahs. Harrahs is certainly not one of the fancier venues in Las Vegas, but it sure is well located. In addition, Harrahs has always gone out of its way to make us feel welcome. Always great dinners at The Range Steakhouse! This particular night at Harrahs, we pigged-out on many great appetizers and then so many tasty main courses. We enjoyed them all while we laughed and drank at Ming’s Table. The good times and laughs continued as we all wended our way to Caesars Palace to play poker.

Las Vegas is a Mecca for billboards. It’s a Mecca for a myriad of neon lights. Loud jokes and song and music boom from marquees. As you cross Las Vegas Boulevard you are aware not only of all the hustle and bustle of the street, but of all the lights and all the noise from extravagant billboards. Each hotel, each casino competing to outdo the other–a cacophony of sight and sound. Outside Caesars Palace, their billboard featured Jerry Seinfeld, including some Jerry Seinfeld humor. The dialog boomed, yet it seemed to drift into the night air along with all the lights and the fountain sprays and the cigarette smoke.

The poker room at Caesars was unusually quiet. Management was kind enough to open a $5-$10, hi-lo Omaha table for us. At first it was just our group. Then, we were joined by others. To Caesars surprise, they had an actual Omaha game going. We cajoled and socialized with other players, who would come and go from the table. Every so often one of us would disappear for awhile and run off to shoot Craps or play Black Jack. While two of the group returned to Harrahs, four of us remained at Caesars, playing-on past 1:00 A.M. or so.

By the time we were ready to leave Caesars Palace, the night air had turned chilly. The four of us were anxious to make our way back to Harrahs as fast as possible. Three of us were walking back. The fourth, Gill, whose knee was more pained from recent surgery than he had anticipated, was headed back on a motorized wheelchair-scooter he had rented. .

 

We had come all the way from Caesars to Las Vegas Boulevard. One of the group was still waiting to cross. One of us had traversed the treacherous street. Gill, on his scooter, was just about at the center island of the boulevard. I was about halfway across the first section of the boulevard when I saw a speeding car traveling along the lane closest to the center island. This car just recklessly whizzed-by in front of me as I turned my head to the right and saw the vehicle racing along, headed directly for Gill on his scooter, not yet safely on the center island.

The impact was fierce and unforgettable. The horror is not to be described here. It was immediately apparent how close Gill and his brother-in-law must have been. One could feel all the true affection they had for each other. Their family ties interspersed with their business ties which interspersed with their long, on-going friendship–demonstrating that we become relatives by chance; friends by choice. This catastrophe has effected all of us. Too often I relive the events of this needless killing of this very vibrant man.

We were there for hours. A few witnesses gathered. Police arrived. Las Vegas Boulevard was closed during the lengthy investigation. The wanton, inebriated driver was taken into custody. Caesars Palace security showed up. Caesars Palace management team showed up. There was nothing they would deny us. They brought out blankets for us and the witnesses. They brought us hot coffee and cold drinks. They went out of their way to comfort us. Yes, Harrahs and Caesars are part of the same corporate conglomerate, but their personnel appeared to be trained in compassionate care-giving for the public. They offered to make phone calls for us. They offered us an inside comfort area, which we declined.

Through all this tragedy and sadness, Jerry Seinfeld’s comedic remarks kept booming through the chilling air. The humor was just out of place. We all were grieving and dealing with this shock and calamity. The constant recycling of the same Jerry Seinfeld routine was just an inappropriate interference. When Caesars management asked if there was anything else they could do for us, I said “yes” and requested that they please mute the Jerry Seinfeld sign.

The somberness befitting the tragic events finally quieted the impending morning dawn.

West 92nd Street

Long before I moved to the Boston area and long before I started playing in a local Thursday night poker game in Newton and Medford, I played in a game at Mel’s apartment in New York City. Mel was a bachelor who owned an investment company. Each week he hosted a game. He supplied sandwiches, snacks, and beverages.  He never took any money for the sustenance.  It was usually the same group of renegades.  We were seven at maximum.  Many times we played with less.  The group consisted of a few insurance guys; Harry, who owned a diner somewhere near the Bowery;  Lou, who I mentioned in a previous post (he hosted a similar game with some of the same guys); and, when he was in town, the actor James Broderick.

It was a nice size game for the 1960’s with stakes at $1, $2, and $5.  We played a few wild card games, one we called Manhattan. It was a Seven-Stud, hi-lo, declare game.  The low card in the hole  (and any others in your hand that matched it) was wild.  In addition, after the seventh card, there was a replace card that cost $1.  So, if by chance you were betting your hand contingent upon your low card in the hole being a four, let’s say, and your seventh card was a two, you had a chance to get rid of the two in hopes of getting a card higher than the four so that the four would be reestablished as your low card in the hole.  Anyway, there were many reasons to replace a card. By replacing an up-card, you could possibly match your low card in the hole. 

We played a five-card version of Manhattan, called Downtown. Each player received one card down, three cards up, and a final card down. There was betting each round. Of course, after you received your fifth card, which was down, it was very likely that your complete hand changed. You now had the option of replacing a card.  There was a lot of positioning and posturing.  This game made everyone think.

We played some Seven-Stud, hi-lo, declare with no wild cards, but still a replace.   In addition, we played some versions of Fiery Cross, described elsewhere in this blog under Criss-Cross Variants.

At that time, we played no 8-low qualifier games.  All hi-lo games were declare. Positioning was paramount, since all declaring was verbal. In the declaration round of betting, the last active better (the person making the initial bet or the person taking the last raise), was the first to declare. Sometimes, by posturing yourself correctly, you could back into winning by hearing, as an example, that the three declarers before you all went high.  You being last to act, might just declare low, feeling that your high hand faced too much competition.

Games would usually start at about 8:00 at night and run through 1:30 or 2:00 A.M. That’s when the real action started.  We played Poker for five or six hours, struggling to win $150 to $350; then, we would risk so much more.  Chairs got moved, a couch got moved. The carpet was moved back. We got on our knees and would start shooting Craps, many mornings until daylight.  The wins and losses at Craps were not relevant to those possibilities of the Poker game. Sometimes, someone who was a marginal winner at Poker, might win $600 to $1000 shooting Craps. Usually anywhere from three to five remained to shoot Craps.

House Craps (or Street Craps) varies from casino-style Craps. There is no felt listing all the betting options. All bets need to be covered by other players.  Many times, not all bets get covered. Usually, most action was against the dice roller. There was no behind-the-line action. The roller would put up let’s say $200. The other participants would shout out how much of the action he was taking and lay his money down. When the last of the $200 was covered, the shooter was “faded.”  If the $200 was not covered in full, the shooter would pull back the money that was not covered. Assuming there was no 2,3, 7, 11, or 12 on the initial role, the point would be established.  Then, there was usually more action: 2 to 1 on the 4 or 10, 3 to 2 on the 5 or 9, and 6 to 5 on the 6 or 8. That was the extent of the action.  No one was betting the hard-8 or placing a come-bet on the next roll. 

Most everyone at the game smoked cigarettes or cigars. If you were a non-smoker, you never objected since smoking was hardly verboten then.  By 5:30 or 6:00 A.M. we all stank from the smoke in the air and were all quite disheveled.  Many mornings, we never made it home to shower or change clothes.  Sleep! Sleeping was secondary.  There were many times that we just went from work to Poker/Craps and back to work–and that was without cocaine.

One day Mel, whose apartment was on West 92nd Street, not far from Central Park, parked his car.  He opened his car door to exit. At that moment, Mel’s life changed.  He was never the same. Some young man, speeding down the street on his bicycle, slammed head-first into Mel’s car door. The bicyclist was pronounced dead on the spot.

 Criss Cross Variants
 Actually, Criss-Cross is definitively defined as a bona fide Poker game. However, in all its listings, it is defined distinctly as a high-only game using wild cards–usually, the center card (E), being the determining factor. Sometimes, any card matching that card is also wild. In some games in which I used to play, the low card in the hole (and all like it) was (were) wild. However, since I have not played in any wild-card games for over fifteen years, I am not referencing them here.
 
In Criss-Cross games, each player may use his/her own cards plus A E C or his/her own cards plus B E D. In Hi-Lo games, one may use one direction for high and another for low. In addition, one may combine cards in the same direction for both high and low. Specifically, players may only use three cards that are directly related, using either the horizontal row or the vertical row. Players may opt to use some or none of the common cards. Vertical-only cards may not be combined with horizontal-only cards.
 
 
 
 
Back in New York in the 1960’s we used to play a Poker game we called Fiery Cross. It was a declare game with lots of action.

Each player receives two cards face-down, one card face-up.

Five common cards, in the shape of a cross, are placed face-down in the center of the table.

                                                                       A

                                                         B           E             D

                                                                       C

There is a round of betting before any common cards are revealed.

Then, A and B are revealed. There is a round of betting.

C and D are then revealed. There is another round of betting.

Then E is revealed. There is another round of betting.

Then each remaining player receives a card face-up.

There is a round of betting.

Finally, each remaining player receives a final card, face-down.

There is a final round of betting.

Then, there is a declare.

Though this game was popular then, it has since lost popularity. I have tried to get it going a few times, to no avail. There are just too many rounds of betting and too little to work with, up front. So, though in the 60’s this game was probably a SIX, now I would have to rate it a FOUR.

GAME: Fiery Cross
RANKING: Four ÅÅÅÅ

________________________________________________________________________

Though my introduction of Fiery Cross led to hardly any acceptance, my introduction of Criss Cross, in other various forms, has taken hold as a Hi-Lo, 8-or-better, lay-down game.

Criss-Cross Get

Process:

Each player is dealt three cards face-down and one card face-up.

Five common cards, in the shape of a cross, are placed in the center of the table.

                                                                      A

                                                         B           E             D

                                                                       C

In Criss-Cross Get, A B C and D are dealt face-down; E is face-up.

There is a round of betting.

Then, A B C and D are turned face-up, revealing all five common cards.

There is a second round of betting.

Then, each remaining player gets two more cards before there is the final round of betting.

The first card is dealt face-down; the second, face-up.

The final round of betting occurs. Hands are shown. Best high hand splits pot with best qualifying low hand.

Since there are only three betting rounds, this game works best with each player paying an ante.

GAME: Criss-Cross Get
RANKING: Seven ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅ

This game and the two following are perfect for seven or eight players. With eight players, if all were in all the way to the end (which is not likely),  instead of each player receiving a second card face-up, utilize a sixth common card that plays like E. Believe it or not, we play these Criss-Cross games with nine players and do not often have to use a sixth common card.

________________________________________________________________________

Criss-Cross Standard

Process:

Each player is dealt three cards face-down and one card face-up.

Five common cards, in the shape of a cross, are placed in the center of the table.

                                                                  A
                                                      B          E         D
                                                                  C

Cards A and B are face-up, the others are placed face-down. There is a round of betting.

Cards C and D are revealed. There is a round of betting.

Card E is now revealed. There is a round of betting.

Each remaining player now receives a card, face-up.

There is round of betting. Each remaining player now receives a final card, face-down.

The final round of betting occurs. Hands are shown. Best high hand splits pot with best qualifying low hand.

GAME: Criss-Cross Standard
RANKING: Seven ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅ

Alternate: Reveal card E first, then A and B, then C and D.

_______________________________________________________________________

Criss-Cross Medium Way

Process:

Each player is dealt three cards face-down and one card face-up.

Five common cards, in the shape of a cross, are placed in the center of the table.

                                                                  A

                                                        B       E       D

                                                                 C

In this version of Criss-Cross, cards A B C and D are face-down; E is face-up.

There is a round of betting. Then, the remaining four common cards, A B C and D, are all revealed at once. There is a round of betting.

Each remaining player then receives a card, face-up. There is a round of betting.

Each remaining player then receives a final card, face-down. The final round of betting occurs. Hands are shown. Best high hand splits pot with best qualifying low hand.

GAME: Criss-Cross Medium Way
RANKING: Seven ÅÅÅÅÅÅÅ

Lake Mohegan

I remember the place actually being called [Lake] Mohegan Country Club. It was located on Lake Mohegan, NY, about fifty  miles from New York City. Ironically, since the early 1970’s, “Lake Mohegan” ceased to exist and the nomenclature is no longer used. The area, the lake, community–one and the same–is now “Mohegan Lake.” During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the area developed into a famous resort community.  (One could hardly call  Mohegan Country Club “a famous resort community.” As a matter of fact, in all honesty, one could hardly call it a country club.)

Lured by convenient train travel (a few hours), New York City apartment dwellers came to Lake Mohegan to breathe country air and relax at a picturesque lake.  Nine or ten resorts operated for sixty-plus years. They offered lodging and top-name entertainment. (I never saw any of this so-called, top-name entertainment.)Most of these resorts had their personalized water-fronts and swimming-cribs.  They provided safe harbors for swimming and boating.  One of the more popular resorts was the Mohegan Country Club and Bungalow Colony, located on Route 6.  The Lakeside and Villas condominiums now occupy the space.

By the time I arrived in the summer of 1954,  the Mohegan Country Club and Bungalow Colony must have been a shell of itself.  It was like a cast-off of the Catskills. Nearby this area in Yorktown, NY,  not too far from Peekskill, was a much fancier community, Lake Mahopac. Mahopac had the reputaion of being “upscale.” In that respect, one would have to label Lake Mohegan Country Club as down-trodden. Yet, this summer of 1954 proved to be a remarkable summer for me–not because of the area, the work, or even the all-night poker games, but because I met someone who eventually changed my life.

In good consciousness, I cannot relate all the facts of how I came to the area that summer.  I can say, I started the summer as a counselor for waiters at a summer camp somewhere near Bear Mountain. Having been a camp waiter a few summers before at a summer camp, Brookside, in Great Barrington, MA, qualified me for the position. I was working at this camp in or near Bear Mountain and enjoying the challenges and responsibility of the job. Not so, however, for the young lady with whom l went there. She had taken the job as counselor for the youngest girls at the camp. As she put it, she was not going to change diapers for spoiled brats all summer.  I can’t vouch for the diapers or any of her complaints.  I can say that she convinced me to quit my job (shame on me), because she was not up to the task.

Off we went in my forest green, 1953, Pontiac Chieftain. She called a friend of hers who had rented a house for the summer in Yorktown Heights. She moved in with that family as their au pair for the summer. There I was–no job, no place to stay, my mother not knowing where I was. I knew nothing of the area around Yorktown. Knowing I needed both a place to stay and a job, I started to drive. I decided that my best bet was to find a job at a hotel–intending to both work and live there.  I traveled from hotel to hotel around Lake Mahopac and Lake Mohegan.  At each place I would ask for the kitchen manager, or restaurant manager, or hotel manager. I would plead my case for summer employment, fudging my waiter experience. After turn-down after turn-down, I lucked out. My persistence finally paid off.

With its lake, its pool, its tennis courts, its rec hall, and such, Mohegan Country Club and Bungalow Colony had all the amenities middle-class, vacationing New Yonkers craved. ( I do not believe there was a golf course affiliated with this country club.) Some of the families stayed the entire summer.  Some families visited for only a few weeks. Like at so many of these summer resorts, it was usually the wife and children who would spend Mondays through Fridays vacationing.  The husbands (dads) would usually join them for the weekend. (I’ll get back to weekends–when waiting tables was more than just a chore, but a challenge.)

As I recall, the diningroom was owned separately from the resort. The gentleman who ran the diningroom  and who hired me must have always been under a lot of pressure.  Being inexperienced with the inner workings of the restaurant business, I just saw him as cranky and bossy. From constantly having to walk in and out of the walk-in refrigerator and in and out of the hot kitchen and then into another temperature zone in the diningroom, per se, I remember seeming to have a cold most of the  summer.

Back to being hired: I was told I had to start that day.  They were short-handed.   Why?   I don’t remember. I was instructed to go to an army-navy store  (There were many around then, selling discontinued and copy-cat military gear and low-end clothing.) in Peekskill and purchase black pants (chinos) and at least one white shirt.  I needed black shoes, as well, but had them with me.  There was no training.  I served dinner that night.

I moved into a room in the adjoining lodge. I am not sure if  Doc (Not wanting to use his actual name, I’ll call him Doc.) was there before me, or whether he arrived after me.  I’m not even sure with whom I bunked.  There was a few other waiters.  I do not recall how many. There were a few busboys as well. Doc was one of the busboys.  He was no more a busboy than I was a waiter. Doc grew up in Brooklyn.  I believe he went to Erasmus High School.  His hard-working mother sent him off to college at Wake Forest, where he achieved as a pre-med major and from where he graduated. Doc wanted to attend medical school.  He applied to Bowman Gray School of Medicine at Wake Forest and was accepted. However, he was considered too young to attend and was told that he would have to wait a year.

He decided that this hiatus in his education was the perfect excuse to see the world.  He joined, of all things, the Norwegian Merchant Marines. I assume that any Norwegian he learned, he learned on the job. Because he had to get back to attend medical school in September of that year, he jumped ship (Perhaps,  in Argentina, but I am not sure.) and made his way back to New York. My good fortune, he took employment at the same place at which I was working.

Doc and I became best of friends. We had a running joke about the time I introduced him as my busboy. The work was both  time consuming and demanding–setting-up and serving  three meals a day. Once in a while, we were given time off for one lunch meal a week. Every so often, we managed to get an entire day off.  Mostly, we worked seven days a week, three meals a day. The worst days were always weekends.   That is when the husbands (dads) would arrive. Their wives and children were spending the summers, while they, just the weekends. Maybe they just resented that their time was so limited or maybe they just felt that  a whole week’s worth of food was due them on the two days they were there. These guys were ultra-demanding. The diningroom owner, who must have been losing his shirt in this summer venture, took the attitude of “give-him, give-him.”  Those words became his mantra. How Doc and I would laugh.  Sunday dinners were always special. Steak was on the menu. When any of the husbands would demand more steak, the owner would shout at us “give-him, give-him.” Of course, we would eventually run out of steak, so we couldn’t always “give-him, give-him.” On those days when we ran out of steak, we waiters took a lot of grief. Most of the guests tipped at the end of each week, usually on Sundays. We waiters were never happy when we had to tell these demanding husbands that we were out of steak.

I remember one incident in particular. One of the families at one of my tables arrived for Sunday dinner after we had depleted our steak supply. The father seemed upset but then, in a polite tone of voice, asked if we had chicken.  Happy to report that we did, I went into the kitchen and returned with a broiled, half-chicken with vegetables and potatoes. “I just want the drum stick,” he shouted, “just the drum stick.” I showed him that the drum stick was there.  He then asked if I knew why he wanted the drum stick. I did not venture a guess. I finished serving his family and went back into the kitchen. Into the kitchen he walked, drum stick in hand. He proceeded to tell me that he wanted the drum stick so that he could tell me to shove it up my ass and get him the steak that was due him. 

Being that all my prior waiting experience was as a camper-waiter, I had no experience with waiting on grownups and catering to their whims. Campers were easy to handle.  I was older than most of them. If need be, they could always be kept in line by a counselor. These weekend-dads were something else entirely.

Doc and I worked well as a team. More importantly, we became best of friends. We socialized then and continued to socialize  for years to come, through various marriages for both of us. Doc eventually became an internist and is now a prominent cardiologist in New York on Long Island.  If it were not for Doc, I would never have gotten out of the food industry. Many years after working at Lake Mohegan, I was working as a store manager for a small supermarket chain, Food Pagent, in New York City, when I received a call from Doc, who I had not seen for a while. He informed me about a job opportunity. His neighbor owned a successful appliance-TV-stereo business, called Brands Mart,  in Long Island City. In chatting with his neighbor, Doc learned that Brands Mart had just lost three key employees, who were setting-out on their own to compete with Brands Mart. Doc told his neighbor that he had a friend, who was not in the appliance-TV business, but he was sure he could run anything. I was soon interviewed. Voila! The start of my new career! Were it not for Doc, I’d probably still be slicing roast beef or bagging groceries on busy supermarket days.

There are countless stories that Doc and I could relate about Lake Mohegan. There was this one guy who slept with a tin can next to his bed so that he would not have to get up at night to pee. The story is really funnier than it reads because of the manner in which he accomplished his feat. How any of us fellow workers were ever able to put in a solid day of work amazes me still. Many nights we played Poker until dawn and then all went directly to work. These mornings we formed a motley crew of disheveled cooks, dishwashers, busboys, and waiters. Some nights Doc would go to sleep at a reasonable hour and cover for me at my waiting station while I grabbed a few minutes of shut-eye. On those nights, I would stay up all night and play Poker, and Doc and I would share any winnings or losses.  The only game I recall playing was Seven-Stud.  Each of us had our own table rules from home games in which we played. At first, there were many disputes.  Finally, we agreed upon our own set of guidelines. Winning or losing fifty bucks was a good or bad night.

The end of that summer sent Doc off to medical school and me back to Rutgers. Indeed, it is not so much the job at Lake Mohegan I recall.  I hardly remember whether I won or lost at Poker. What I think of most–and fondly so–is Doc.

Epilogue: I have not spoken to Doc in more than twenty-five years.  Through the internet, I have located him. Just today, February 12, 2010, I called the only number I could find for him. Bravo! We spoke and plan to meet.  

Hats and Bombs

The same player who brought the games Splits and Tits to our weekly games, came across this game (maybe patent-pending?) while trying to patent one of his games.  Though all of us have probably played games similar to this, this one is unique.  However, like other games of this ilk, it is almost impossible to have a made-hand until the final cards are revealed.  So, in many ways, it is a sucker’s game; then, again, aren’t we all suckers–at times.  One advantage of this game is that it can be played by up to ten players. There are always suggestions for other names for this game, but the official name, we were told, is Hats and Bombs.

Here is Hats and Bombs.

Process:

Each player receives four cards face-down.  As in Omaha, player must use only two cards of the four.
There is a round of betting.
Nine community cards are then placed in the center of the table. Cards are arranged in three sets of three cards and turned face-up.
                                                                 AAA    BBB    CCC    (The Hats)  
There is a round of betting.
Three community cards are then placed face-up, below the nine cards.
                                                                    D          E          F     (The Bombs)
There is a final round of betting. 
By using two cards in your hand, plus two  of the three cards from either A or B or C plus one card from D or E or F, you form your best five-card Poker hand. Note, you may not combine any cards from A with any cards from B or C, etc.  You must use only two A cards or two B cards or two C cards with any one of the three D, E, or F cards. As an example, your hand could consist of two of your original four cards, plus any two C cards plus the D card. You may use one such combination for high and another such combination for low, or, in some rare instances, the same combination for both.
That’s it.  Best high poker hand and best low (8 or better) hand split pot.
GAME: Hats and Bombs
RANKING: Six ÅÅÅÅÅÅ