My Funny/Yummy Food 4 Thought Column 20

              The Velociraptors’ Picnic-The Game Bites the Bullet

This is my last column about playing poker with the same group of insanely wonderful guys for 25 years. I hope you found them amusing (the columns and the guys), but I have to tell you playing every week wasn’t all fun and games—especially for the players who were losing their butts off. They never laughed and would urge the game on with comments like, “Shut the hell up and deal, will you?!” As my bud, Howard used to say, “Faster cry the losers”—except, of course, when Howard was losing and he would mostly pout and whine. He admits this.

We didn’t know it then, but we were all winners for having this wonderful long- term ritual in our lives. Too bad we lost it, but we did and I was, in part, to blame. One Thursday night, I brought a new guy by the name of T. Rex to the game, and he was a “serious” poker player. He read books, played online, hit the casinos in Vegas and was leagues ahead of the rest of us who were still asking, “Do a pair of aces beat a flush?”

T. Rex really wasn’t content with our bets of 1$ and $2 a card. He said it didn’t allow “poker as art” or betting big enough to bluff and force somebody out. I have to admit that was largely true, though the words “that’s six dollars to you” were frequently enough to get me heading for the hills. This was his “intellectual” argument, but I believe his real motivation for pushing the game to new level was more visceral– the need to feed on others.

To fill this hunger, he introduced a totally new “Pot Limit” game to the group. (No, it had nothing to do with inhaling strange substances.) “Pot limit” meant you could bet the total amount of  money that was in the pot at any time. There could be $50 to $100 in the pot, which lifted any single bet into the realm of “You’ve got to be xxpfffing  me!” It was a little different going from “that’s six dollars to you” to “that’s one hundred dollars to you, in or out?” Whatever happened to, “It’s two to you or toodleloo?” That was long gone. 

I protested like crazy, but I was outvoted. After 25 years of being married to the same game, this new game was kind of exciting, like a new love. So we began playing pot limit every other week, which went on for a while until the old game just couldn’t kindle the flame anymore and guys began wanting to play pot limit every week. So we did that, but it took its toll and in a few months, long-time lovers of our game like Kenny, Jarvis and Rich began dropping out. Eschewing the game was one thing, being chewed was another.  I hung in there until I began to take a bath frequently and it was Thursday, not Saturday night. So I dropped out too. Some of the guys and T. Rex continued playing and “new blood” was constantly brought in to keep things lively, or deadly, depending on your view. Was I ticked about losing a 25-year old cherished tradition? Do I still harbor a grudge that the game for me became extinct?  You judge as you read the following. Pass the handkerchiefs and napkins please…       

                      The Velociraptor’s Picnic

 It was the Velociraptor’s picnic and all of the dudes were there,
 older, wiser, and balding, seasoned well by the “tell” of years. 
 They came for the sport and laughter, camaraderie at its best, 
 to take part in “The Game,” earn fortune and fame and put their   
 poker skills to the test.

 Our playing was never pro-level. In fact, we had losers a lot, 
 Who played every hand and still called it grand though 
 they rarely won a pot.  
 The losers were still highly valued, though mocked a lot
  by the bunch.
 But all of that changed when T. Rex joined the gang and
  spit- roasted the losers for lunch!

 This feast didn’t sate his craving. “Raise the stakes even higher!”
  he roared. 
 This ravishing beast was intent on a feast like no one had
  dined on before. 
 And his wishes prevailed at the picnic, not that many had
  much time to think.
 You see as you’re being ingested, it’s too late to start
  raising a stink. 

  Yup, the Velociraptor gobbled, though the poker pickings’
  got slim. 
  He mashed and he chewed all his friends as his food,
   until no one was left but him.

                   Give a Hand for Finger Food

What would a Velociraptor poker party picnic be without finger food: delicious,  easily-eaten dishes with fingers sticking out of them? Ooooo, no thanks.  In lieu of those, try these: snacky stuff that is hands-down delicious and that you don’t have to put your poker hand down to enjoy. Best of all, they require a minimal amount of cutting, slicing, dicing, and shredding . That’s best left to serious poker players.

 Poker Chips and Dips
1 package onion soup mix

1 16 oz container of light sour cream

 Fresh, chopped Herbs like Rosemary and Basil (unless they scream)

Method: Mix that stuff together. Serve with your favorite chips

 Crabby Loser Bites:

This dish is devoted to Howard Mullin, crabbiest loser, most obnoxious poker winner in the history of the game. I love you, man.
What Youza Need
6 split English muffins split in two
1 jar Old English cheese spread
 ½ stick butter
1 tbsp mayo
¼ cup chopped onion or 1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1tsp salt
7 oz can of crabby meat (or far better fresh)

What Youza Do

 This is not exactly diet-conscious, but blend all the ingredients together and spread 
 on six English muffin halves. Broil on high for three to five minutes until brown and bubbly, but watch closely. Slice into thirds or quarters. Feed to a ravenous crowd.

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