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Waves of atavism in poker room - Justin Boron

The urge to gamble in Georgia is experienced much like an alcoholic on a Sunday, eager for a drink, but swimming in a trough of despondency because of Georgia blue laws.

There are no real casinos in Georgia. So a person who wants to play poker either finds a home game or goes to one of the several free weekly poker tournaments at various bars throughout metro Atlanta.

These free poker tournaments have become the lifeblood of poker fanatics in Atlanta. Bars hold them as promotional events so the card players watching the World Series of Poker on ESPN have a place to go and pretend they know what they're doing. Usually, the prize is some meager amount of house cash or a gift certificate.

Last Monday was a day in which I could find no real money game and decided to go play in a promotional tournament in Marietta.

Somewhere along the way, the trip mutated into an atavistic descension into the jungle of amateur poker playing.

I had lost early of course, unable to cope with the absence of real money. I didn't know what to do with my chips; without real dollar value they were just toys to be tossed around indiscriminately. Clearly, I was no match for these players, who by some obscure means of natural selection, had learned to play the game with no money. This is the new breed of poker player that seems to be surfacing wherever poker appears in the absence of gambling.

Moping around the tables to watch my friends play, I tried in vain to feed vicariously off their adrenaline. Drifting into somnambulance, I was jolted awake by shouts from the tournament director. He was operating under the moniker DJ Cuals.

Cuals is a scrawny figure who looks like his family might have spent some time in Appalachian region. The experimental bone structure in his face is arranged in a way to make his head look kind of like a bent piece of metal. But his meager appearance is a stark contrast to his personality.

He bellowed some brutish noise, spilling cacophonous words out of his mouth that I probably will never understand.

The incoherence stemmed from a disagreement at one of the tables.

There had been some bad noise about poker etiquette from one of the more educated players. He was upset about the tournament's organization, and rightfully so. The tournament operated erratically, constantly on the verge of mayhem.

The loud-mouth player had stepped onto tenebrous ground though. By lecturing DJ Cuals on the proprieties of poker, he had slapped Cuals in the face. And Cuals is definitely someone you do not want to insult in any capacity, but especially not in the one area of his life where he had some power and influence. (Control of this tournament probably is probably his only temporary relief from a severe inferiority complex.

It was DJ Cuals' game, and anybody who's anybody knew that. Cual was definitely in charge. The mere intimation that he was losing his grip over the tournament sent him into a frenzy.

He barraged the frustrated player with his snakelike arms, pummeling the poor soul until he fell from his chair.

But that was not enough. Cuals was going to make an example of the loose-lipped player. He desperately needed control back so he violently ejected the loose player and stormed back into the room throwing tables and chairs, unwilling to acquiesce to demands that he calm down.

Eventually, I think they brought out the Marietta SWAT team to pacify the disturbance. But that cannot be confirmed since I was far in the distance by the time the storm had reached its apex.

I had left before the brute attacked me. He was like a baboon angry about its lost baby. Luckily, I had survived my first safari through entangled vines of a free poker tournament in Atlanta. But like a gambler fresh off a big win, I've not had enough yet.

Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at jboron@news-daily.com