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  • Writer's pictureLise Parton

Stories Behind The Stories, The Rhythm of Poker

Updated: Jan 17, 2022

"I fully admit I have enjoyed a long and wonderful relationship with playing cards..."

My card journey leading to the discovery of a life-long passion for the game of Texas Hold’em poker and leading up to the birth of my eBook, The Rhythm of Poker, has been a lifetime in the making. I fully admit I have enjoyed a long and wonderful relationship with playing cards, and card games in general, and my history, like each phase of my life, has been varied.

Cards have always been an enjoyable pastime, though there was not a lot of card playing as a youngster at home in the city. My parents played Bridge, for sure, from time to time, but my busy mother and father didn’t play many childhood card games with us, except when we were at our off-grid summer cottage, and I loved that! We also played board games there, but I adored playing cards the most. With no power at the cabin, which meant no TV, and in those days, no computers, tablets, cell phones, and such, playing cards and games was always the evening, and on rainy days, the main anticipated activity.

Yes, I did learn those basic childhood games like Go Fish in my earlier years, but then, in my early teens, I got into regular cards, and a new game with a boyfriend, when he taught me how to play Cribbage. I instantly loved the game and we played it often when we weren’t off doing what other young teens do, discovering life, our independence, wild and new feelings, the latest in music, crazy dancing, etc. Once, during our play, I got a 28-point hand, (the highest possible hand being a 29), and I remember my guy being so jealous that he actually told me, and not particularly nicely, “if you can’t count up all the points, you can’t take them.” Well, I did, and I was proud of it! I can still remember that day, and where we were playing, sitting on the cream, plush, wool living room carpet, one quiet afternoon.

Cribbage then became a huge part of my card-playing world, and was one of the first games I taught my own kids. It helped them with counting and helped with learning their math. It was also a great way for us all to play together as a family. Cribbage was the game we would all play regularly on weekends after the hot, egg or pancake breakfasts I would cook. All week we ran off in different directions and mostly had cereal, so a hot breakfast and a game of cards was a way to connect and keep in touch as my children were growing up every weekend morning. My husband and I continued to play the game together on weekends for many years, even after the kids finally left home, and I loved that.

In 2020, a good friend of mine asked me to team up with her to play in a Cribbage Competition for our local Legion. She and I made it through to win the lower mainland trophy and got medals, but on the eve of flying out to attend the Provincials, with our bags all packed and ready, everything was cancelled with COVID hitting the scene just then, March of 2020. She and I were devistated. Obviously, that year’s competition never resumed, neither did 2021’s, and I am guessing this year’s won’t either, due to COVID.

Also back in my earlier years and teens, I enjoyed another special time related to card playing. At this time, I would see my Grandmother for irregular visits, and she taught me the game of Spite and Malice. It was a very special time when the two of us got together and played that. She didn’t live near to us, so when we all stayed at her house, she and I would set up a card table with her special card table cover, in the middle of the living room, and put up two folding chairs, and we’d play it, just the two of us. It was wonderful! I will forever cherish all those special memories, as my Grandmother is long gone and I miss those cheerful game playing hours we spent.

Three more types of card games became a large part of my life. The first, was a card game taught to me by a dear friend in Arizona. She, and a group of friends there played American Hand and Foot. The game is played with a specially designed and printed set of cards that are the equivalent in size to about 6 regular decks. I got really hooked on that game for quite a spell down in Arizona, and ordered the specialty cards and brought the game home. I have taught several friends over the years, and have enjoyed it very much. It is a game very similar to Canasta. And, as for Canasta, the gal I won the local Legion cribbage tournament with, taught me Canasta, and we played once a week in a group of 4 ladies until, once again, COVID stepped in and we had to stop playing. I really miss that, because somewhere in that mess of COVID I moved unite far away and miss those wonderful ladies from in-person Canasta nights. (At least today, we all still play poker together online, and Zoom together at least once, sometimes twice a week.)

The next big game in my card history leading up to playing poker was the game of Hearts. For several years when my kids were still home, but in and out of the house as young adults, in their late teens and early 20’s, a group of adult friends got together to play cards every Friday night. Our game of choice, was Hearts. Every Friday we would meet at one of the 3 houses (in the beginning there was a core of 5 of us), to have cocktails, and then the hosting peeps would prepare dinner, and then we’d clear the dining table afterwards and play cards. I was infamous for ‘going for Control’, I loved the challenge! Hearts is a great game, but I will admit that if you play with the same people every week it is not long before you know how the others play, and whether or not they try to go for Contol, or Sluff. I designed some 'Certificates of Achievement' on my home computer and we kept a book of all the awards when we played, here is one I managed to keep in my memories box:

This Friday night scenario went on for years, and our cocktails, dinner and card group expanded. Then, my adult son came home one night while we were all playing Hearts in the dining room and asked why were weren’t playing Texas Hold’em Poker? He said that was a much better and more popular game these days. We thought about it, and then thought about it seriously, and before long we then tried this new to us idea and launched into playing Texas Hold’em poker. We all knew how to play regular poker after all, why not try Texas Hold’em? We also discovered that now our adult kids wanted to join in, and it was a way to reconnect and spend time with our now regularly disappearing young adults. Those were great nights, with flowing bevies, great food, the clink of chips, and many laughs!

At about that time, one of our friends joined a local, free, Texas Hold’em league. At the time, I was needing a new activity, one that would get me out of the house. And so, I joined that local poker league, Lucky Numbers Poker. It was a set up where you did not gamble with money, you played, and earned points for how you placed each evening in the nightly tournament. Then the points would collect up over the season and there would be playoffs, both local seasonal, and then provincial. I met the most amazing people playing in this poker league. Some of them are now life-time friends.

Over the next few years, I also played in a couple more leagues, and started to play and host (with close friends) in low entry, cash home games. Texas Hold ‘em poker became a big part of my life, and it especially helpful and uplifting after I ended up getting a divorce. The chance to be able to go out and play cards with a group of people is an amazing way to have fun and meet people in a safe environment, as I was now on my own. The game, and the league, was a blessing for me at that time.

As I was making new memories playing poker with friends in these leagues, I was blessed to achieve more than one wonderful, life achieving moments, I made the amazing top hand, the elusive Royal Flush. Some people have expressed they have never had the chance to experience a Royal Flush, but I am almost embarrassed to say, in one year I accomplished five of them. I have since also achieved one in a digital poker game. Each time I did make sure I got a photo of the moment, because, to me, it was just such a big, lifetime achievement! With such a passion for the game, I feel truly grateful and blessed to have been able to achieve these Royal Flush hands.

Unfortunately, my dear main poker league bit the dust after COVID struck, as many businesses, and many of those wonderful weekly peeps I saw, I have not seen since. Gratefully though, several of us have become online players, mostly in free home games on a poker site, and I do Zoom, as mentioned, with a few people as we play, and that, at least, has been a blessing during COVID.

Now Texas Hold’em Poker has clearly become a big part of my life. I am continually learning how to improve on my game, and am always anticipating the next one I have the opportunity to play. I have found myself buying Poker-related dishes for my home games, made some fabulous card markers out of poker chips and I have made poker-themed jewellery. I proudly wear T-shirts with Poker sayings on them sometimes when I play. In, in my shop LIPSpeaking, you can find some of the merchandise that I designed digitally that are available on over 80+ items. I own several water bottles, coasters, t-shirts, and other things I have ordered from my own line. You can conveniently purchase these print-on-demand poker-related items online, too, to be delivered directly to your door. The line is called, ‘Poker Passion’.

My book, The Rhythm of Poker, is a compilation of some of my marvelous experiences in playing the game of Texas hold ‘em poker. As I am a writer, and a ‘playful’ poet, this book is a marriage of my passion for the game within a poetic, and often humorous view. In other words, the Rhythm of Poker is a poetic autobiography of my journey with the game of Texas Hold ‘em poker. The book contains my experiences and thoughts expressed through rhyming poetry and prose, and is accompanied by several photographs of my great experiences and connections with the game.

Maybe we can ‘sit across the felts’ from each other one day and play!

Find The Rhythm of Poker as an eBook on Amazon.

Cheers! Lise



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