Le premier tournement trans-historique du ‘poker’
August 9, 2010
With apologies due to Messers Heisenberg et al., I had the privilege earlier this year of participating in the First Trans-Historical Poker Tournament, being held in Versailles circa 1789. Sadly, due to the somewhat erratic nature of our otherwise benevolent host, Louis XVI, we were forced to hold the tournament on the palace tennis courts (having been barred by political intrigue from our allotted hall).
Once we had all crowded in and removed the last straggling tennis players, we all signed the promptly re-written Declaration of the Rights of Men Playing Poker (the only individual not in favour was promptly guillotined by the Committee for Poker Safety), and settled down to our tables for a long night of what promised to be historically significant gambling.
Immediately my table became a centre of controversy when Mad Caliph Hakim declared himself to be God, Rene Descartes declared something about thinking he was present, and Genghis Khan declared himself the chip-leader and stole Hakim’s and Rene’s stacks while they weren’t looking.
At that point I decided that it was my responsibility to prevent the further degeneration of the game by dealing the first hand before we lost any other players. My scheme, however, failed when Pythagoras was guillotined by the Committee for Poker Safety for requesting a third card.
Things at this point things were hardly going my way, and my bad temper was not soothed by my nine-ten off suit, the result of all this being my making a large bluff with the first call. This move may have enjoyed a higher degree of success had the player immediately following me not been Kaiser Wilhelm II, who, being Kaiser Wilhelm II, responded to my provocation like he responded to all provocations, betting every chip he had (not mention his country, crown and shirt). This bet (bluff or no) was not challenged by any, as the only individual who could match it (being Catherine the Great) was not yet willing to risk her inner garments.
As the Kaiser smugly redressed himself, I sneaked off to lodge a complaint with the Committee for Poker Safety, who, upon hearing allegations of the Kaiser’s conduct, wiped his smart-alecky grin right off his shoulders, much to the relief of all those who had seen the Kaiser undressed.
With Wilhelm out of the way, President Lincoln made a bold move to “liberate” the tyrannical Genghis’ chips. Matters were complicated when Kemal Ataturk opened a new theatre in the east of the table, leaving Isaac Newton dumbfounded as to how to bet. This dilemma was thankfully solved after I again nipped off to the Committee for Poker Safety who “removed” both Kemal and his stupid bet.
Despite this, Newton folded on account of his first principle, which stated, “don’t bet like a kamikaze you fool, you’ve already embarrassed yourself in front of enough fruit-pickers today” (ironically the kamikazes were playing a well balanced game off to my right). At this point Dante at last had his opportunity to a launch into a tirade against the evils of gambling (which he had clearly been eagerly awaiting) and damned us all to the fourth circle of hell. The Committee for Poker Safety, being in the area at the time, decided to send Dante on a second expedition to the underworld for plainly refusing to bet.
With the death-toll mounting I decided it would be wise to sit the next hand out (not that my pair of three’s needed any encouragement). Robespierre and his Committee did briefly raise an eyebrow at my call, though dropped it after seeing my hand.
Lincoln continued his assault on the Khan, but his withering bets were swept away when Genghis advanced his entire “Golden Horde” of chips, and revealed that his two cards were in fact four aces. Newton, deeply concerned, closed his eyes and after a brief period of thought leaned over to me and quietly informed me that Genghis’ hand seemed to indicate that he had tampered with the space-time continuum without the permission of the Committee, and that I should probably nip off again to have Genghis tampered with. Not being one to question Newton (though by that stage slightly worried about bothering Robespierre), I again raised the alarm over conduct at my table.
After the Guillotining of the Khan, Newton looked to me much relieved, and indeed he informed the table that he had been more than a little concerned that Genghis may have been altering some of his own laws.
We continued playing, though now in a much more civilised manner, with Newton beginning to make some headway into Catherine’s stack. Some of the defeated (as opposed to dead) players began to wander about the tables delivering news. After hearing yet another tale of Robespierre’s adventure’s, (I recall that it was the one about Herr Hitler’s “expulsion” for refusing to take bets from Karl Marx) Newton again seemed to fall into a worried mood, and took out a piece of paper. He made hurried calculations, though of what I could not tell.
Catherine, seizing her chance, called in the Committee for Poker Safety, and accused Isaac of counting cards. Though not actually against the rules in this tournament, Robespierre was getting carried away with himself and decided that one more headless Englishman wouldn’t hurt anyone (employing classic Robespierre logic). However, as the “committee members” began dragging Newton away he finished his calculations and exclaimed that if present trends continued, by the midway point of the tournament Robespierre would have to have executed every single figure present including himself, the Committee for Poker Safety, and several of the wives Henry VIII had in fact left to mind the pets in the 16th Century.
Though clearly disappointed, Robespierre also proved to be the sort of man who didn’t question Newton, and reluctantly called off the tournament, resolving never to tamper with the space-time continuum again, (as I’m sure all those who survived did, myself included) thus bringing to an end the first and only, Trans-Historical Poker Tournament.