Wiesenberg (s092 poker): Sophie doesn’t go for a ride

Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Card Player. This entry in the "Aunt Sophie" series covers poker.

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Black and white photo of Michael Wiesenberg

Michael Wiesenberg

Aunt Sophie doesn’t go for a ride

“So, Dollink,” accused my Aunt Sophie, “I know what you did. You can’t hide from me.”

“Aunt Sophie,” I sighed, “I would never try to hide anything from you. I know you know everything.”

We sat in the coffee shop of the Anaheim Club, Sara and I in the booth opposite my aunt, the woman who had raised me most of my life, at least until the time came for me to flee the coop.

“Uh huh,” she riposted. “So why when a motorcycle you get you don’t tell me? Instead from that loudmouth Nick Thorn, about whose everyone’s business he knows I have to find out?”

“I just got it yesterday,” I replied. “I haven’t seen you until now, and I was about to tell you.”

“Right,” she snorted.

“Aunt Sophie,” interjected Sara, “it’s true. He said we had to come down to the club to make sure to tell you about the bike.”

“Okay, okay,” Aunt Sophie relented. “So now you’ve told me. So now you tell me about it.”


“Well,” I explained, “it’s a new Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Soft Tail. I had to order it from the dealer six months ahead of time, and it just came in yesterday.”

“And it’s lovely,” exclaimed Sara. “I adore riding on the bike. I got a new leather jacket and chaps just for the occasion.”

“But,” objected Sophie, “they’re dangerous.”

“No, they’re not,” I countered. “What’s dangerous is the young fools on their overpowered race bikes zipping in and out of traffic. I’m very careful, and I’m quite content to move along with the flow.”

“He’s a very good driver,” added Sara. “I feel completely safe on the back.”

“I don’t know,” Sophie persisted. “Always the risk taker this one has been. Bungee jumping out of hot air balloons.”

“I did that only once,” I inserted.

Aunt Sophie ignored me. “Mountain climbing,” she continued. “In Nepal. In an avalanche.”

“I was trekking,” I interrupted, “not mountain climbing.”

Again she ignored me. “So worried I was,” she went on, “when I saw the avalanches on the news and no way I had of reaching him.”

“I called as soon as the lines were open,” I said, but knew it was in vain.

“That was before I knew him,” Sara observed.

“In an open cockpit biplane upside-down he went flying,” she added.

I said nothing, although I could have pointed out that that was once only. And perfectly safe, since I was in the passenger seat, and with an expert pilot.

“In the biggest poker games,” she persisted, “you play, risking thousands.”

“Where I have the best of it,” I maintained stoutly.


“And now a motorcycle,” she concluded, “where really you can kill yourself, and this lovely woman, too. Life is not a rebuy tournament, you know.”

“Aunt Sophie, Aunt Sophie,” I gently chided. “I love you more dearly than any mother, since for my early years you were my mother, but I’m a big boy now. I’m careful.”

“Careful, schmareful,” she articulated. “I worry about you, and I always will.” Did I see a tear in my aunt’s eye?

The waitress appeared at this juncture with lattes for me and Sophie and an Earl Grey tea for Sara.

It seemed an opportune moment for changing the subject.


“How have you been doing,” I asked, “in the lowball?”

“In the lowball,” she answered, “I’m doing well, mostly thanks to your good advice. But lowball reminds me of something I wanted to ask. Why do players lie about how much they’re in?”

“Well,” I temporized, “there are different reasons. Some losing players like to bemoan their bad luck. They don’t want to place the blame where they ought, on their own poor play, so they blame their luck instead. And as long as they’re complaining about bad luck, they want it known that they’re unluckier than anyone else. They bolster that contention by claiming to have lost more than they really have, and this they do by exaggerating the amount they’re in. Others seem to think there’s some sort of stigma attached to winning. They berate the winners for winning, which they equate with tight play. So when these miscreants are even or slightly ahead, they lie about how much they’re in.”

“Yah,” she agreed. “Christmas Alf, for an instance. I knew how much he bought in for the last time we played, $100, because right after I did he sat down. We were both there for a long time, and almost a new table except us were there six hours later. He’s got $200, when Crying Jake loses a hand to him, and when Alf says how he just got a seven beat a few hands ago, but of course it cost him only two bets but on this hand from Jake six bets he got, and now he’s up to over $300, so Jake says, ‘Big deal, you’re still ahead about what I’m stuck,’ and Alf says, ‘Ahead? I’ll be ahead if I double this. I’m in $600.’ I don’t say nothing. I never say nothing to either of them. But I know how much they’re both in. Alf is ahead over $200 and Jake is still ahead $100.”


“Yes,” I concurred. “They’re both losers overall, of course. But a few of the winners do the same thing. That’s because they think people won’t want to play with them if they win, so they, too, claim to be losing when they’re ahead, and this they do by lying about how much they’re in. The trouble with this strategy is that it doesn’t fool very many people, and others have less respect for the liar than if he said nothing. Most players don’t ask others how much they’re in or if they’re winning or losing; the way you find out, generally, how such a person is purportedly doing is that he volunteers the information.”

“What do you do if someone asks you a direct question?” queried Sara.

“I tell the truth,” I offered. “And if I’m winning, I usually add something to the effect of ‘I’m running real lucky today.’ Players like to hear that others get lucky; it gives them hope.”

The waitress brought the bill, which I discreetly removed from her hand before she had a chance to set it on the table, because I knew Aunt Sophie would grab it there.

“And now, Aunt Sophie,” I remarked, “how would you like to come for a ride on my chrome horse?”

“Like a loch in kopf I’d like it,” she returned. “No, tsatskeleh, you two daredevils go out and enjoy.”

Thanks to Paul of Bakersfield for the “rebuy tournament” concept.

Next: 093 Aunt Sophie flops a full house and a flush


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