Friday, June 15, 2007


Thursday night marked a big moment of truth for me. After months of practice online, I finally walked down the street to a bar and tested how well I can play poker at a real table. The bigger challenge may have been being in a room with real smokers' smoke....

In ten years in Columbus, I had never stepped inside Lil Kim's Cove on Fourth Street until last week - and I live a short walk from the place. It calls itself a "lounge," that seems three-fourths bar and one-fourth short order foods. The menu includes fried rice with meat - but I think one of the customers guessed wrong, when he called a manager Don Ho. [True!]

(I should note Lil Kim's Cove was around long before "Lil Kim" became a music star. Perhaps someday she'll send the manager a check, for stealing the name....)

Every Thursday, Lil Kim's Cove has Hold 'em Poker night. All you need is a one-drink minimum to play. And being the clean-minded churchgoing guy that I am, I drank Diet Coke around a table full of gamblers -- even though I was walking home.

I had two online practice sessions at Yahoo Poker Thursday, before making the big walk to Lil Kim's Cove. In the first session, I made 204 pretend dollars in only a few minutes - including 196 dollars for three eights. It just feels great, to hold three times eight.

You get $200 in chips to play at Lil Kim's Cove - which is tiny, compared to the $20,000 starting amount for players on TV's "Poker After Dark." Why, even Monopoly considers you responsible enough to have seven times more money than that....

Enough players showed up to fill two poker tables, so I joined seven other men crowded around one of them. The group was an interesting ethnic mix, including an older man from India who could fake a good Irish accent when he wanted to.

It became clear that I wasn't the only poker rookie at the table. One older gentleman turned over his cards at one point, to show he had a full house. That was very kind of him, because I still had a bet to make first -- and my hand was worse.

That older man had a duel with me, in my very first hand at the table. He made a ten-dollar bet after the last "river card" was shown. I had a pair of kings, but decided to concede the pot to him. The poker "experts" say you should only make small bets early -- and ten bucks is a pretty big night for me when I dine out.

My biggest chance to win a pot came a few minutes later. I was dealt a King-10, and the five cards on the table gave me a straight. But four diamonds were on the table, and a flush beats a straight -- so when a man went "all in" to force me out of the game, I conceded again to keep my $104. This is also why I haven't adjusted my investments in several years.

From what I could tell, the group of poker players at Lil Kim's Cove consisted of ordinary folks primarily there to have fun. One man bought a pail full of beers, and joked (I think) about getting drunk before the night was over. There are times when it pays to stay in the neighborhood for your entertainment.

One man noted the 1996 Olympic hat I wore, displaying flags from the U.S. and four other countries. "It's Flag Day," I told him - a fact which seemed to stump everyone at the table. How many military veterans did I embarrass, without even realizing it?

Earlier in the evening, someone asked what day of the week July 11 was on. I knew it was on Wednesday - so when I mentioned Flag Day a few minutes later, someone said: "You seem to be full of dates."

"Yeah, but you'll notice I didn't bring any with me tonight."

In fact, many of the poker contestants at Lil Kim's Cove seemed to be in their fifties or older. It's like they say in that TV commercial - this generation is NOT heading for bingo night.

The older man who won a pot over me to start the evening was eliminated first at our table - so I accomplished one goal for my first poker night. I was NOT knocked out first. I made it all the way to being knocked out second....

The end of the poker playing came for me when a man went all in with a Queen-Ace, against my Queen-9. But a lengthy debate ensued first, over how much someone had to enter to stay in the hand. I sat quietly through it all - concerned any wrong eyeblink might give away my hand.

I was one Jack away from making a straight and staying in the game, but the last two cards that fell were a 6-3. My first in-person poker night lasted about 55 minutes - twice as long as my online sessions, so maybe fatigue did me in.

I went home from my first night at Lil Kim's Cove without winning a hand, but coming potentially very close to winning two big ones. The lesson seemed to be that I was too cautious and conservative, too fearful that the worst would happen. In reality, the other players were just about as unlucky with cards as I was -- only they know how to hide it better.

BLOG CORRECTION: Thanks to the e-mailer who noted a wrong name we had Thursday. The Muscogee County Prison's Warden actually is Bill Adamson. We sincerely hope that this is NOT an arrestible offense.

E-MAIL UPDATE: A large pile of blog messages reached us Thursday, and we'll need a couple of days to sort them all out and track down some details. The most eye-catching e-mail was the first one we've received from "IsOurCitySafe" since Jim Wetherington became Mayor:

DELCAMBRE, La. (AP) - Sag your britches somewhere else, this Cajun-country town has decided. Mayor Carol Broussard said he would sign an ordinance the town council approved this week setting penalties of up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for being caught in pants that show undergarments or certain parts of the body....

There's much more to the news story IsOurCitySafe sent, but he titled his message: "I would support an ordinance like this." My concern is whether the proposal is "fair and balanced" - as in whether Britney Spears could be arrested for revealing too much as well.

But what's interesting about this e-mail is what IsOurCitySafe did NOT write. He said nothing about the new Columbus city budget, the plans to hire more officers - or even the upcoming addition of an Assistant Police Chief. How high a promotion is this man seeking?

Now for a follow-up to my latest medical report, from Wednesday:

Richard..Seeing as how you are a frequent visitor to the "doc in a box" facilities in Cols ,did I see in the paper where the new acute care next to the P.O. on Macon Rd (Norris Rd corner) is owned by Cols Clinic?...I don't know if the ad just meant it was a Columbus clinic or if it is a satellite of Columbus Clinic...

"We have somebody running that," answered a woman at Columbus Clinic who answered the phone Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, I had no reason to make an appointment there.

Perhaps we should have seen this satellite clinic on Macon Road coming. Look up "Columbus Clinic" in the phone book, and you'll see a number for the "Main Clinic." You normally can't have a "main" without some satellite locations. But I also noticed a number for the "billing and finance office" - which for all we know could be based in Pakistan.

For a change of pace, we will NOT review Thursday's news headlines. Translation: there wasn't much. Note how the Ledger-Enquirer devoted much of its front page to Dale Earnhardt Junior....

Instead, we'll preview some of the events going on across the area this weekend:

+ Saturday is Davis Broadcasting's "Family Day in the Park," at Cooper Creek Park. Peachtree Mall officials say they plan to increase security - so last year's "after-party" may have to move on down Manchester Expressway, to Johnny Carino's and Krystal.

(There's one big change in the Cooper Creek area from last year's Family Day in the Park. A large parking lot has been built, for the still-unopened Cougar Village Apartments. I'm putting the "over-and-under" for a parking space at 18 dollars.)

+ A different group plans a Sunday "Father's Day in the Park" at Flat Rock Park. I'm not sure what to expect there - especially since there's been no announcement that weapons are banned.

+ The Vault club downtown presents a Saturday night concert by "The Dave Matthews Tribute Band." I suppose this is a big compliment to The Dave Matthews Band - but how far does this "tribute" go? It's not like Matthews wears polyester jump suits or mop-top hair.

COMING SOON: What do Columbus and space aliens have in common? We have one woman's explanation....

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