Seeing the music in poker

Jul 10, 2018 3:00 AM

Playing poker, there are many occasions when your emotions will be stirred one way or another, but nothing compares to holding the nuts after all the cards have been dealt out – the very best hand possible. It’s the most you could ever hope for. The euphoria is hardly describable – pure ecstasy! Winning with a monster hand after catching runner-runner cards on the turn and river is exciting, to say the least, but it doesn’t come close to staring at the nuts.

Music is a great way to capture your emotions. And would you believe, a beautiful grapefruit could also play a role. On that basis, allow me to share with you how I felt recently after catching the nuts while playing Texas hold’em at Larry Flynt’s Hustler casino in Gardena, California.

You may remember the once very popular jazz song, “Embraceable You.”

Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you

Embrace me, you irreplaceable you…

It was written in 1928 by George and Ira Gershwin. Published in 1930, it was featured in the Broadway musical “Girl Crazy,” starring Ginger Rogers and choreographed by Fred Astaire.

The song has been associated with many of the memorable greats of the entertainment world, including Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Kate Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Etta James, Doris Day, Paul Anka, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland and her daughter Liza Minnelli, Jo Stafford, Sarah Vaughn, Liberace, Louis Prima, Jimmy Dorsey, Andy Williams, and Engelbert Humperdinck.

And that beautiful grapefruit…  Looking out to my backyard the other day, I spotted a huge gorgeous grapefruit that had dropped to the ground from our grapefruit tree. It glowed brightly in the morning sun. As I picked it up and examined it, I was taken by its beautiful smooth and radiant yellow skin – not a blemish. I felt a warm sensation – like I wanted to embrace it, to admire and cherish its perfection and warm appeal.

Just one look at you

My heart grew tipsy in me

You and you alone

Bring out the gypsy in me

That special grapefruit immediately brought to mind a rare poker experience I had enjoyed the night before. Once in a Blue Moon – another popular song of the past – every poker player is bound to catch the nuts – a hand that cannot be beat, a sure winner! An indescribable emotion swept over me. I could have raised that perfect grapefruit to my chest, to embrace and hold it to my bosom.

I love all the many charms about you

Above all, I want these arms about you.

Of course, it’s quite a bit different when you are seated at the poker table. There, you want to keep your emotions to yourself. It takes self-discipline. Give no tells.

Don’t be a naughty baby

Come to papa, come to papa do

My sweet embraceable you…

So too, the poker player experiences a natural reaction – to jump up from his seat at the table, and shout aloud for the world to hear: Magnificence, splendor! Glory!

Silently, poker faced, without displaying his emotions, that poker player is inclined to shout out: “Glory, Glory, Hallelujah!” from the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Written by Julia Ward Howe in November 1861, and first published in The “Atlantic Monthly” in February 1862, the song links the judgment of the wicked at the end of the age (Old Testament, Isaiah 63; New Testament, Rev. 19) with the American Civil War. Since that time, it has become an extremely popular American patriotic song.

And that’s how catching the nuts captured my natural emotions – starting the day with that perfect grapefruit from my tree and beautiful songs from my memory bank.