I took a peek at my two cards and saw two kings peeking back. Hey, fellas. Good to see you. Money went in the pot, and here come more cards. Well, lookee here, another king. This is shaping up rather nicely.

It had been a year since my last poker game, so my poker moves were more than rusty and showing signs of actual metal fatigue. I’d been consulting Kenny Rogers in my head each hand for guidance on whether to hold or fold ‘em.

So far it had not been going great. I’m not convinced Kenny Rogers really knows much about poker.

Let’s go into the future where I win this hand and get rich beyond my wildest dreams. Sidenote: my dreams aren’t all that wild.

But I do end up winning this hand, and it’s a doozy. Now, things could have gone bad for me. My pal Darren had four hearts. He was just one away from hitting his flush and beating my three kings.

But Kenny told me to go all-in, so my chips went in the middle, and that made it too expensive for Darren to speculate. He folds.

Meanwhile, my buddy Scott had a pair of fives in his hand, with a five on the board sitting right next to the king that had me breathing shallow. You could buy a month’s worth of firewood with all the dineros sitting in the middle of that poker table.

Scott is no dummy. He’s a financial adviser by trade so calculates risk vs. reward daily. He deliberated, finally calling with the words, “if you have kings, you got me.”

I struggle to put into words how enjoyable it has been to spend Scott’s money following this victory. Scott, you should see the Jake Kurtz hand-blown glasses I purchased with your money. They are glorious. Just straight-up works of art.

And hey, here’s exciting news: Moonshine Glass is moving from Russel Ford’s homestead in Wallowa to the old Enterprise Electric shop in Enterprise. That’s gonna be groovy.

We could spend all day on how to best spend Scott Milani’s money, and I’d like that, but let’s circle back to the poker table, where wagering everything you have is sometimes the right move and sometimes a catastrophic mistake.

This annual reunion with seven friends began 10 years ago in a hotel room in Washington D.C., where we gathered to visit our buddy Mike while he recovered from an aggressive Hail Mary of a surgery to rid himself of stage four stomach cancer.

This was an all-in situation if ever there was. Some doctors had advised against the operation, warning the attempted cure was so severe he may not survive it.

He survived. Ten years of cancer-free checkups is a bright and shiny milestone. I was explaining to a friend here in Wallowa County before the reunion trip what I was up to and he said, “Oh, a celebration of life. A real one. You know, without the funeral. That’s great.”

Yeah. That is great. I hadn’t thought about it in exactly those terms. I’m going to keep that in mind, count my blessings and apply that outlook to other things I might be taking for granted in this poker game of life.

Although, as a wise man once sang, “you never count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table. There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealing’s done.” I’m not sure I really know what that means in this context, but let’s just go with it. Sounds good, Ken.

Jon Rombach is a local columnist for the Chieftain.

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