humor Korea Uncategorized

‘Wait, what’s a one-eyed Jack?!’

This past weekend I found myself sitting down to a good old poker game at a friend’s house. The Canadian One and I (and The Canadian One’s British friend) gathered up our coins and hit the road for the 70 minute journey south to my first Korean home town of Cheonan. Cheonan, famous for its Walnut Cake, was my happy home for two non-consecutive years. Anyone who reads the BBC news website may be familiar with Cheonan (the town) as it’s also home to the world’s first and only foreigner’s prison. Not to be confused with Cheonan, the South Korean ship, which sunk in March 2010 thanks to a North Korean torpedo hitting it…supposedly. I’m not one to speculate. Although for further speculation you can read here, here, here, here and, of course, CNN’s vast ranging coverage of the event, here.

Having arrived safely in Cheonan (the town) and with little hassle, we acquired our beer, bought our nachos, counted out money and settled in. The Canadian One bonded with our hosts over the Nova Scotian majority at the table while I stared at the cheat sheet, reminding myself of how to win. Which hand beats what, does a Royal Flush beat Four-Of-A-Kind (it does), if they’re all hearts does it matter what the card numbers are (yes, it does), etc.

Now, I have a long history with poker. You could almost say we’re like two old enemies that come together for mutual beneficial purposes but in fact one of us always gets screwed in the deal and it’s always me. When I was younger, my parents would frequent my aunt’s house at weekends for poker games. All the kids would huddle in the living room, watching TV while the adults gambled and drank in the kitchen/dining room area. Occasionally, one of us would wander in, sit on a parent’s lap and watch the game unfold.

I learned 4 of a kind is good, aces are better, matching symbols are a plus, there were hearts, shamrocks, diamonds and that other one, having all the same color meant nothing and that unless you’re playing, it makes for a pretty boring watch. Like golf. Or Mario Kart when it’s not your turn.

Growing up, I became a little better at it. I learned the proper names for the suits, learned the rules but of course, the rules of poker are like the rules in pool, it really depends on where you are. House rules are house rules and everyone’s are different. For this game, we were playing  5 card stud but with changing rules per dealer.

So for example, when it’s my deal, I can call ‘two changes, threes are wild’ and that’s fine. Threes can be anything and we can change cards twice. Easy peasy. Of course, having a set up like that leads to exchanges like this:

American Dude: ‘Two changes, one-eyed Jacks are wild.’

Me: ‘What? What? What’s a one-eyed Jack? What?’

Someone: ‘A Jack with one eye.’

Me: ‘What?’

Someone: ‘He’s only got one eye. You can only SEE one eye. He’s not facing you.’

Me: ‘WHAT?! WHAT?!!’

The 16-year-old, not allowed to play and having spent his entire time sitting in the background watching the game, jumps up to show me a picture of a one-eyed Jack.

Me: ‘Ohhhhh I get it, ok, yes, let’s continue.’

Moments later, after the first change:

Someone Else: ‘Wait, I don’t get this one-eyed Jack thing.’

The most popular question of the game is frequently:

‘Wait, what’s wild? Seven or eight?….Oh Kings….OK.’

Quickly followed in second place by:

‘How many changes did he say?’

And coming in in third would be:

‘Wait, how much did he put in?…OK, so what do I put in?’

I once lost my flatmate’s money in a game and one time, at home, lost 10 Euros borrowed from my mother within two hands but having never lost too much of my own money, I approach each game with positivity.

In Saturday’s game, I knew the majority of the players. Known for cheating, (I still maintain he SHOWED me his cards), I remained focussed and alert as the game got underway.

So here’s my problem with poker: I get too happy when I think I might possibly win and my face doesn’t know how to keep it a secret. As a result of my brain ‘look stoic, show no emotion, don’t talk’ mentality and my face’s ‘OMG I’m gonna win!!!’ display, most people fold before I get the chance to do any real damage to anyone’s pocket. Hand in hand with that is my second problem with poker playing: the drinking aspect of the night. I’m one of those people who gets very happy when I get drunk. The more I drink, the happier I get so more often than not, I end up sitting there, cards in hand, smiling like a delirious Cheshire Cat while others bow out of the game around me.

Our ante is only about 100won (9 cents) so it’s not like we’re out there betting our paychecks, more like the bus fare home is at stake, but still, I’d like to at least be able to buy a breakfast coffee for my hangover the next morning.

Another confusion for me was when earlier in the game, this happened:

Yep, two matching one-eyed Jacks

Adding to the challenge of the night was the fact that we were playing with two decks, due to the large number of players. We took a vote on ‘Does Five-Of-A-Kind beat a Royal Flush?’ The answer was no and I later won a hand with five 8s.

Shockingly, despite the all the incessant smiling, the confusion (mainly mine), the saying ‘YAY’ aloud when I saw I had a wild-card and, of course, the random betting I employed whereby I called most bets as just watching was boring, I still manged to make a small profit during the night.

Note: Not the money I won, just the money I didn’t lose

Fortunately for me, The Canadian One is a chivalrous kind of guy and carried all our joint winnings back to our faraway abode where I shall now bring them to the confused bank teller who speaks no English and have them changed into bill form. I shall then spend it frivolously on coffee and gummy worms, the necessities of life. Ah, caffeine and sugar purchased with the profits made from gambling. Just another typical weekend in the land of the Morning Calm.

For more posts, check out:

17 replies on “‘Wait, what’s a one-eyed Jack?!’”

Amusing post my friend! I’m sure this all probably comes easy to you, but if you were looking for a refresher course, I have a blog entry called “How to use math to become a better poker player” feel free to check it out- it gets into probability theory! 🙂

Ha, thanks! I’ll be sure to check it out before the next game. Although, math isn’t my strongest ability either so it’s 50/50 as to whether or not math is the way to go! 🙂

Leave a Reply to Where’s the outcry? WHERE?! « The Ketchup War Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s