Allow me to paint a picture for you of my last evening in Aruba. Hurricane Ivan was on it's way and everything was closed up or shut down. Arubans were twitchy and dumbfounded, and that alone made me nervous. A hurricane, much less a category 4 storm, had not hit this lovely island in nearly 200 years.
But the wife and I decide to head out in the evening. It was our last nite, after all. The hurricane wasn't supposed to 'hit' until early morning so we made some calls and discover that only the poker room at the Allegro and Radisson are open. The wife and I head to the Allegro with intentions of my teaching her how to play craps after my Las Vegas lessons with Hank.
Sadly, not enough dealers showed up for work on this historic Hurricane evening, so the craps table was shut down. I reluctantly sat down at a blackjack table for about 20 minutes before my lovely lady taps my shoulder and says, "Screw this, go cash out and play poker."
Sweet. Mrs. Iggy rules.
She drops me off at the Radisson. The weather is getting very ugly now - the main coastal road is entirely washed out and the beaches are under water due to the relentless pounding surf.
I walk down the huge half-open-air lobby to the casino entrance only to find it locked. Ouch! But then I hear a Southern twangy voice call out to me, "Come on over, the poker game has been moved here!"
I look over and find the Aruban senior poker dealer dealing to what turns out to be five American guys on a big coffee table with bottles of rum, wine and whisky strewn about. They are drinking heavily, smoking bigass honking Cuban cigars, stacking giant stacks of ten dollar chips and looked to be having the time of their life.
"You've got to be kidding me," I utter.
The leader of this gregarious crew shouts out, "This is the only game in town and we're gambling like it's our last night on Earth, which very well may be true with the fucking Hurricane on the way!"
Egads, I think. I can't make this shit up. My 'sane' internal voice tells me to get the fuck out of this open air lobby and back to the resort, where my odds of living are far better.
But my internal IGGY voice bitchslaps the voice of reason and I hear myself say, "If that booze is available to all players, deal me in boys," and they all cheered loudly.
Buy the ticket, take the ride, as Hunter Thompson says.
Ignatious J. Reilly is a writer and poker player from New Orleans, LA.
September 20, 2004
Ivan and Aruba
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