The Eddie Brill Poker Game welcomes back some fine familiar faces. Cockman has the best line of the night. Two old men are bewildered by modern technology. The cost of reading glasses these days is outrageous! Weed is played and music is smoked… or is it the other way around? And Lady Luck has a first name: it’s R-O-B-I-N.
(Game Day: July 26, 2021)
The editors, writers, productions assistants and lighting technicians of The Hammadown would like to apologize for not reporting on the EBPG that was played in June. It was a fine affair worthy of recapitizing, but the H-down staff was on a well-deserved vacation and you don’t just throw a complicated publication like this together by yourself! It takes a village. Or at least a village idiot. And he was out of town as well.
But we’re back with a gangbuster edition, feat. the usual EBPG OG’s along with two “Super OG’s,” Don McEnery and Robin Henley, who were welcomed back into the game with open arms… once they handed over the money for their buy-ins, of course. First things first.
For those of you unfamiliar with these two characters, Don (Green shirt) is a writer and comedian who first played in the game probably way back before we even used chips, but his move to L.A. to apparently become a mid-fielder for Ireland’s “Over 50” soccer club ended his regular appearances at the EBPG. It was excellent to have him back.
Robin (headband and earrings) was once married to our sorely missed friend, Vic Henley. They both played in the game every week back in the day, but we hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing Robin for what felt like 50 years. That is until she walked in the door and immediately re-sparked the EBPG as if it had never been un-sparked in the first place… or the second place for that matter.
And I haven’t even mentioned that another far-too-long-absent OG, the one and only Lizz Winstead, also made a very late bid to join us! Alas, thanks to the table already having been filled with OG’s, Lizz graciously agreed to sit this one out. But the next EBPG definitely has a seat waiting for her.
The game was called for 7pm, as usual, but, also as usual, most of the gang took that to mean 7:15ish, maybe 7:21ish, neither of which qualifies as “on fucking time-ish.”
Don was first through the door at the respectful hour of 6:57ish He helped me set up the table and made it clear he had brought along a broomstick-sized spleef that would soon be toothpick-sized.
Next through the door was Robin Henley.
Such a fine sight to see!
She walked in with a big smile, a bigger hug, and an albeit standard-size bottle of Rosé. And just like that, it was just like old times. We was like peas and carrots again.
Freed, Hank and Joe walked in next, bellies first. Cockman was not far behind, and he came full-handed with two copies of his latest book. He offered to sign one each for our old friends and had the whole table losing their shit when he opened one of the books, took out a pen, and very casually said, “How do you spell ‘Don’?”
The jokes and/or inadvertently hilarious moments were fast and furious.
Cockman, unprompted as I recall, told a story about working out at a gym recently and striking up a conversation with actor Treat Williams. You know who Treat Williams is even if you think you don’t. Freed, however, couldn’t quite picture him. So, Cockman helped out by rattling off a few movies Williams was in before topping it off with…
“I think he was also on the cover of Playgirl.”
Oh, really, Cockman? You think?! Or do you know that because you used to keep a copy under your pillow?
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Don wanted to order pizza for everyone so I told him to use Apple Maps to look up “Angelo’s” on Second Avenue. He didn’t seem to know quite how to do that, so I asked Freed to do it for him. You know… because Freed is a fucking I.T. guy! Like, that’s how he makes his living! But even he somehow couldn’t seem to figure out how to just find a place on maps and get the number from that. I swear the two of them were staring at the damn phone like a couple of monkeys trying to read “War and Peace.” I was 99% certain that when the pizza finally got there, these two would try to fucking drink it.
Don was peering over his reading glasses the whole time. Fine. Full disclosure: I can’t even read a stop sign without mine. For some reason, somebody commented on them and Don went on a bit of a rant about how much he had to pay for them. I think it was 15 bucks or something.
Don: I’m not cheap, but if I have to pay more than one dollar for reading glasses, that’s too much.
This just in: Don is cheap.
One thing that hadn’t happened yet was the actual playing of poker. Eddie Brill said he would be late, and because he’s a man of his word, he came strolling in at about 7:40. At that point we all decided we could play poker and chew gum at the same time, so we made it happen. Eddie got the first ace and we started with the usual round of Dollar Bob (Omaha hi-lo). Perhaps distracted by his joy at having Robin Henley in the seat next to him, in the very first hand Eddie declared low by mistake and lost the hand even though his straight would have beaten Joe’s three queens if he’d listened to his brain thing screaming at him to declare high.
Many moons ago, Vic Henley was dubbed “Poker Coach” due to his penchant for doling out advice, sometimes in the middle of a hand. This night, it was my turn. Robin hadn’t played for a while and was understandably a bit blurry on some of the rules. So after folding my own hand in one game, I headed over to Robin’s side of the table to whisper unsweetened somethings in her ear. One of those somethings was, and I quote myself, “You never know what Cockman’s up to.” And it’s true. You just never know.
I don’t know what this was in reference to but the following phrase was scribbled in the middle of my notes, so I submit it for your confusal…
You doing stuff? Whaddya doin’?
You fill in the blanks.
Joe prepared a playlist that was filled with a variety that made it feel like we were changing the station after every song. It was all good though.
At one point, Joe and I just started picking songs for him to look up and play. That run kicked off thusly…
JR: Brandy by Looking Glass
Joe: Baby Come Back by Player
JR: Moonlight by Starbuck
Joe: Steal Away by Robbie Dupree
It was like we were inadvertently compiling the soundtrack for a 2-and-a-half star 80’s rom-com that was heavy on the “rom” and light on the “com.”
In the meantime, poker was actually being played.
I’m not sure where she ended up at the end of the night, but despite her long absence from the game, Robin certainly seemed to be holding her own as well as a good portion of everybody else’s.
Cockman was also cashing in, sweeping pots on the regular and barely leaving any crumbs for the rest of us.
By mid-game, Robin and I had polished off the bottle of Rosé she came in with and went to work on the bottle of champagne that had been sitting in my refrigerator possibly since the last time I saw her. Before long, we had polished that off too.
Eddie randomly did what Eddie randomly does: he told an old table favorite at just the right time:
Guy #1: Why do I have to do all the cooking?
Guy #2: You wanna do all the sucking?
Guy #1: Which way to the kitchen?
Our habit of showing mutual appreciation for random favorite comics during these soirees lead us to a good 15 minutes of Gilbert Gottfried stories. I don’t remember any of them, but I do remember that nobody at the table could do a decent Gilbert Gottfried impression if their lives depended on it. Then again, nobody but Gilbert Gottfried can really do a good Gilbert Gottfried impression. And even his are a bit erratic.
I stayed inside to catch up with Robin a bit while a few of the fellas headed out to the patio to catch up with Mary Jane. As they came walking back in, all I remember was hearing Don McEnery, mid-sentence, saying to Eddie, “I just reread Vonnegut.” I couldn’t tell if that conversation was because of or despite the weed.
Robin dealt the penultimate hand of the night and treated herself to four aces and a huge pot.
(Small: 5 cards all up. Big: 7 cards all up)
SMALL: J.R. wins! And in dramatic fashion, though with a shitty hand.
BIG: Robin Henley wins! As if her four aces wasn’t enough to empty our wells at the end of the night, the big showdown came down to Robin needing a queen to fill her straight to the king. And, befitting a queen, she got her card.
The next game will be soon even though it’s never soon enough.