He was a father, brother and son. He was elegant, honorable, sweet. More than anything else…my dad was a teacher.

Dusk. One day post bris. Not quite 6, but the gates were still open. Standing at his grave….Agudas Achim Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio….

Pausing briefly, saying Kaddish, thinking….

Each visit, before leaving, I mull over an axiom—a truth 0my father’d shared. (“Hochmahs”, our Grandma had called them). This time would be no different. My eyes though, kept staring at something I saw: There, that mid-November day, a month past Yom Tov, there atop the memorial of this transplanted Clevelander….sat 14 stones. 14—I counted them. (A quarter century—- Who?)

It’s been a great year, but weeks wind down and I’m already hearing the annual chant from coupled friends and family:
“You’re not seeing anyone. Come for New Years.”
“Come to Florida.” “Come to Chicago.” “Come see Max.”
It’s enough already (I’m thinking) —this solitaire. Time perhaps for another bad relationship.

“Look,” I said to Weiskopf, pointing across Caribou, “See those ugly people holding hands? How is it they find love and we can’t?”
“Because I don’t want to and you don’t have money.”
”You think it’s all about the Benjamins?”
“Not for you, dickhead, for them.”
“Burnside says you’re wrong.” I told him.
“Burnside has money.”

‘Tis an interesting query —one studied often between meetings and plays—usually with Ed. How is it that a reasonably nice guy like me—generally courteous, no body art or piercing…how is it in 15 years there hasn’t been the right “nice Jewish girl”?

Walt says if you look ‘round the table and can’t find the weak player— it’s you. True not only in poker (I’m afraid), but also in matters of the heart.

My dad was a sensitive man, a seasoned gin player. Still, (when assessing card skills), he was brutally honest. Indeed, it was candor in a long-ago family game that killed any chance my brother’d have of liking hearts. We were playing teams: it was Dad and H against Mom and me. Hal, (all nine years of him), passed my father (his partner), the bare queen of spades (without protection). More than once. Smoke flew from Al’s ears as he chastised my brother. It was a wonder South Euclid’s Fire Department didn’t show! Was my brother shaken? Let’s just say the next time he touched a card table he was setting up a 1980 Seder.

In his early years, our dad played too much. He won more than he lost….until he didn’t.

“Listen, little boy…if you sit down and lose in the same game three out of every five times, you’re in the wrong game. Get out.”

It was a lesson I’ve always remembered. Always. It’s kept me out of games I didn’t belong in; it’s hastened timely exits from others.

Maybe it applies to women as well? Maybe it’s time…to get up from the table…to go my meetings, hang with the guys….to content myself being a friend, father and grandfather.


When it comes to women…perhaps I’m just a good opener, but a poor closer? After all, I smile, I’m safe…I can not only talk, but listen. Perfect for the fluff of first dates. Heck, Stacy says I’m the best person she knows at “pointless conversation.”

What if women, though, view me as a poker hand. What am I…Ace-Jack suited? A low pair? What if they ran a D & B on me? (Then, maybe…7-2, off/suit)….

What if (in poker parlance) I’m one of those guys just good enough to ”See the flop? If it doesn’t hit perfectly—just fold.

It strikes me I’m thinking too much. Way too much. Wonder what the old man would say….

No I don’t. I don’t wonder at all. He’d say I’m on “tilt.” He’d say walk away. He’d tell me “Get out.”


        “You’ve got to know when to hold them,

          Know when to fold them,

          Know when to walk away…”


                                    Kenny Rogers

3 Responses to “THE GAMBLER”

  1. Marc says:

    If you constantly work at your game the results will show. Sometimes it takes longer than you want to wait-it’s all about patience. Luck also will facter in. Be patient and stay in the game-if you don’t play you have no chance of winning.

  2. alan wieder says:

    With no smugness but rather a wonderful reminder — who would have thought that I would have found Joanie.

  3. Rolo says:

    Your time will come. I am sure of that. You have too much to give to have to keep it all for you.

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