“Flush,” I said with a crooked smile.
Tim threw down his hole cards, skipping the flourish of cigar smoke.
“To the jack,” he said, and reached for the pile of chips.
Getting outflushed in Texas Hold ‘Em isn’t fun, but I didn’t sweat the loss. It was only a couple of bucks, plus it was Friday night after a busy work week, and six friends and I were tossing back adult beverages and smoking great cigars. Who could be upset?
Poker night is nearly always at my house because I have the only cigar-friendly home in the group. My basement is my smoking room, and I have the green light to fire up there at will thanks to my very understanding wife. Her father is a cigar smoker, so when I light a Churchill the aroma reminds her of her childhood. When most of my buddy’s wives smell cigar smoke they get ballistic, rather than nostalgic.
The cards are almost an afterthought. The stakes are modest, with each man kicking in $20 to the start. A few unlucky ones put in a second Jackson to replenish. Take away the poker and we’d still have had a good time. But remove the beer, whiskey and cigars? That would be a problem.
I began the night with cold Pilsner Urquells. My friend Mark, always an adventurer, brought some Costa Rican beer called Imperial. Russ didn’t bring any Scotch, but no one could blame him: a few years ago there was a rather famous game where he came with a bottle of expensive whiskey that had been aged in France. It didn’t last long, and Russ soon looked like a farmer who had lost a bumper crop to uninvited locusts.
Scott, who was new to the table, brought Chivas 12-year-old, which was much appreciated. Kurt, another rookie, brought a full bottle of Booker’s Bourbon, which brought an immediate smile to my face.
Turns out Kurt enjoys strong cigars, so I started him with a Tatuaje Havana Cazadore. I thought it might be too much for him, but he smoked it and smiled. He followed that up with an Ashton VSG. He really does like his cigars strong. (Get this: he’s in training to do an Ironman triathalon--more than two miles of swimming, a 112-mile bike ride and 26 miles of running. Maybe the power cigars will help?)
For the guys in the group who prefer their smokes on the mild side, I started them with Maxx cigars by Alec Bradley. Scott was in the mood for a second, so I gave him a Partagas 160.
My luck turned after the flush incident, and with a wee dram of Booker’s in my glass and a second cigar in my mouth (a Padilla 1932) I soon had a sizeable stack of chips in front of me. But the poker wasn’t nearly as important as the camaraderie. We laughed into the night and let the worries of the workweek fade away.