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The Eddie Brill Poker Game: A Brief History

By December 9, 2019January 27th, 2020No Comments

As the title of this entry baldy states, this is a brief history of the EBPG poker game. When did it start? Who was there? Has anybody I give a shit about played in the game? Did you really order a custom-made table from North Carolina?! Why?! How have you stayed ahead of the law all these years? All these questions and more will soon be answered…

Many moons before a considerable amount of moons before even those moons ago, a very occasional, very late-night poker game used to break out on the stage of The World Famous Comic Strip right here in the city that never sleeps. At least it used to never sleep. These days it usually sneaks in a nap somewhere between 3 and 5am, but you have to be up late to see it and then you’re just really tired the rest of the day. My point is, that like the city, the game has also changed a lot in the past 30 years.

The first big step in the customization of the EBPG was when comedian Dennis Regan, who is as charitable as he is hilarious, gave his old, wooden dining table to Eddie. Before that, we can assume that our “Gamesake”™ ate like any other self-respecting bachelor: out of his hands while leaning over a sink. With the arrival of something to sit at not to mention put cards and cash on, the game was moved to Eddie’s now very suitable digs on St. Marks Place in the heart of the East Village. 

The East Village In The Early 90’s:
Come for the music and the drugs, stay for the drugs and the music
 … and because somebody stole your wallet.

Back then we played with actual cash. If you’re immediately picturing piles of Grants and Benjamins being thrown around, change your presidents to Washington with an occasional Lincoln. Let me put it this way: it wasn’t uncommon to hear a player get really cocky and say, “I’ll see your actual quarter and raise it 4 actual dimes!” (Clink, clink, clink… 1 dime rolls off the table, nobody bothers to look for it.)

The games were always on Mondays, because that was always sort of the comic’s night off. Eddie, however, was the regular Monday Night host at Caroline’s on Broadway, so he gave William a set of keys to his place so Weee could go over and set up the game, presumably after sifting through Eddie’s drawers, which is what William called underwear.

Our little game began to improve in stages.

STAGE 1: We finally got some chips, the plastic ones. You know, those “poker chips” that actually sound how extremely cheap and sad they actually are. Rumor is everytime one of those little plastic chips hits a hard, wooden table-top an angel sheds a single tear and then folds her 9-deuce off-suit. But it was definitely easier to deal with than cash.

STAGE 2: Following one particularly long, all-night game, the usual crowd shuffled out and walked slowly to “Around the Clock,” the aptly-named neighborhood diner, to get breakfast. I believe three of us ordered the “hash” not realizing it was just chopped potatoes mixed with beef that had been “corned”, whatever the hell that is. At least one of us smoked it anyway. Beggars can’t be “chewers”! (pumps fist) “Nailed it!”

After breakfast, we walked around trying to find a place that might sell a poker table. You know… as if we might actually just find a random place that sold poker tables. It didn’t work. But it motivated Eddie to go on line and find a couple in North Carolina who built custom poker tables – we wanted a certain size with chip wells and places for our drinks. We all pitched in and before you know it, the game was now almost totally official. But there was still the matter of those sad-sack plastic-ass chips.


STAGE 3: William Whitfield Stephenson III came up with the brilliant idea of having everyone fork out a surprising amount of money to get some custom chips made with the denominations printed on one side and “EBPG” printed on the other. And that… is when the “Eddie Brill Poker Game” was truly born.

And having told that story, I’m starting to think maybe it’s long past time we get those chips washed.

The next game is tomorrow, Tuesday the 17th at the House of Hav. It’s the last game of the year and we’re expecting overflow, so I’ve decided to just make it our official EBPG Holiday Poker Party. So come dressed in an ugly sweater and we’ll take a nice picture. 

Expected are Eddie, me, Hank, Vic, Pat, Joe, Freed, Clayton, Nate, and Jason. We’ll start with the first 8 to arrive and rotate in by seniority and/or whether or not you beat me on the river with a hand you should have folded on the turn. Newbies and non-players who feel like stopping in for a chat and a laugh, IM me and I’ll disclose the location of the volcano I live in with my tiny, hairless dog. 

Santa Freed is bringing along a catering-size shipment of BBQ, so… God bless us, everyone!

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