Thursday 23 December 1999
But to the denizens who thronged its smoky tables, backbench MPs, lawyers, printers from Fleet Street, bar-room philosophers and a rich assortment of petty thieves and conmen, it was more home than home itself.
Similarly, I have often been struck, at a higher level both of play and comfort, by the enthusiasm of professional poker players - to sit down and play for long, long hours, when they don't need to play at all. They include, for example, chief executives from major casinos, like Bobby Baldwin of the Mirage, whose salaries are well up in the million-dollar bracket. Which prompts the question: how are you going to celebrate the new Millennium? Surely what poker players would most enjoy would be an invitation to a really swinging game. In black tie, perhaps, with a bottle of champagne close to hand. That is not practical for most of us, who have family and social obligations which take precedence. Still, New Year prompts one to reflect on the basic question about poker, namely: why do we play and play so much?
Making money is not the point of it all, even though as everyone knows money is how you keep score. Of course no one wants to lose. Nevertheless, I think for most players the real point of poker is that it is the best way they know of spending, not money, but time. Time is what the passing year is all about. The difference between winning and losing is not so important as the experience of playing, indulgence of the gambling instinct combined with a mental challenge. That is the fascination which keeps players going. The game is a non-stop drama. Money? Oh yeah, that comes into it, too.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Reader dilemma: 'Our son is 34 with an IQ of 85, and spends all his time in his room. What will happen to him when we're no longer here?'
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Russian officials ban yoga because it's too much like a religious cult
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Ginger Pride festival to take place next summer, organisers say 'time of bullying gingers is over'
Glastonbury 2015: The best things you missed from Lionel Richie and the Dalai Lama to how beautiful the festival is
The picture of a man crowd surfing in a wheelchair at Glastonbury is brilliant, but it wasn't taken at Glastonbury
Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Guillaume Tell, Royal Opera House, review: Gang rape and stripping naked of female actor met with boos
Glastonbury 2015: Shocking scenes of rubbish left strewn across campsite as clean-up begins
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?