Wiesenberg (s000 intro): About the Aunt Sophie series


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. Entries 041 and 061 are missing. They likely never existed, and the gaps are a result of a numbering glitch. In the case of 041, there’s a possibility that it was originally published in Pan Player+, but Michael Wiesenberg can’t find an original manuscript or a published copy and thinks it’s more likely that it was never written.

Michael Wiesenberg index.


Black and white photo of Michael WiesenbergMichael Wiesenberg

Many of the “Aunt Sophie” stories originally appeared in Pan Player+ and Poker Player in the 1980s, tabloids that were published by Gambling Times, Inc. They started out as thinly disguised advice on the proper play of pan and poker, but soon grew into something more than that.

Characters that wouldn’t die

The stories seemed to develop a life of their own, or at least Aunt Sophie did, so that after a while the stories stood on their own. Some of the stories spanned more than one chapter. I introduced characters who I thought would just say a quick “Hello” and “Goodbye” and then go their merry ways, but I found those characters had ideas of their own, and a distinct revulsion towards being quickly “killed off.” So, you’ll find plenty of advice in here on how to improve your game, both pan and poker; the stories also have a lot of jokes, curious literary devices, and, I hope, pure fun.

Quirkiness and literary devices

You may wonder about some of the quirkiness in these stories. Originally they began as satires. What they satirized is not important. If my work lives on, I would like to think that it will stand on its own merits without anyone needing to know what I was poking fun at, or even that I was imitating — exaggerating, really — another’s style.

Most of those who read Alice in Wonderland have no idea that the book satirizes literary works of Lewis Carroll’s time. It attests to his skill that his nonsense poems remain totally alive today, while the poems he lampooned have long since been forgotten. This is my tangential way of accounting for many of the literary devices not customarily found in stories of this sort.

Later entries in this series appeared in Card Player magazine.


NOTE: These stories will make more sense and have better continuity if read chronologically in numerical order. You can do this by starting with the first and clicking on the next one when you get to the bottom of each story.

You can also access them by number in the index, but some will be out of sequence, because “poker” comes after “pan” alphabetically. If you don’t follow the numerical sequence, you’ll see the characters interacting in strange fashion and what they do might not make sense. This is fine if all you care about is advice on pan and poker.


First entry in series: 001 Aunt Sophie plays every hand

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