Heed the advice
of poker gods

Oct 12, 2004 2:13 AM

I am reminded of the legendary Corinthian King Sisyphus, and his poker playing buddy, King Tantalus. So, I want to give you my Oklahoma Johnny Poker Tip of the Week at the top of this column rather than at the bottom where I usually put it.

With a thought toward having a little fun with words, here is Oklahoma Johnny’s Poker Tip of the Week:

Poker is a Sisyphean task (from the old Corinthian King Sisyphus) and it is easy to be Tantalized (from the buddy of king Sisyphus, King Tantalus) by the cards when you are playing the game of poker.

Do Not Annoy the Poker Gods.

The game of poker is very simple — there are bad bets and there are good bets. The winners know the good ones and the losers cannot tell the difference.

Now back to King Sisyphus. It seems that he and King Tantalus had been playing poker with the gods and had annoyed the gods with their trickery.

As a consequence, in Hades King Sisyphus was condemned for eternity to roll a huge rock up a long steep hill, only to watch it roll back down.

Do you remember the movie "Cool Hand Luke?" And when Boss Hog asked Luke, "What is your dirt doing in my hole?"

And just like old King Sisyphus, Luke had to dig his dirt out of Boss Hog’s hole, and then put the dirt back again, over and over.

But King Tantalus was punished by the gods in a different way. He was condemned to stand beneath a fruit-laden tree, up to his chin in water. Whenever he would bend his head down to get a drink, the water would go down so he could not drink.

And when he wanted fruit from the tree and would reach up, the branches would move up just beyond his grasp, just to tantalize him.

Words are fun, as is the origin of words, etymology. Tantalize, as we now know, came from King Tantalus.

I know that many times when you’re playing with other players you sometimes think of the other players as suckers. Oh, no, I should have said Mr. Tucker. And when Mr. Tucker gets a little bit lucky and hits a long shot draw out, that you think poker is a Sisyphean task and that when you have the very best hands and still can’t win the pot, that the poker gods are "tantalizing" you.

What’s that Carol? Where do I dream up those old kings, words and poker things? Well, dear, I am blessed; I had a father who played poker and I had a mother who read to me.

I told you I picked my parents well.

Remember to stay lucky!