Games people play

Pandora Melly finds the answer in the cards.
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Michael Chow, 58; restaurateur.

I've always played poker. It's a fast game; simple and profound with a lot of depth to it. During a game one begins to understand oneself and other people; I find everyone has a pattern and a tale to tell.

Business and politics are full of poker. Most presidents play - look at the American and Russian presidents' bluffing signals to the opposition. Basically you need a cowboy or gunfighter's mentality: "Never start a fight - or back away from one." It's a very aggressive kind of philosophy. people who don't play poker tend to use the word "cunning", but it's not like that. Poker is the manipulation of intuition and chance; there's a parallel with life, so a lesson can be drawn from it.

You do more losing than winning. Gamblers usually have their thoughts on the positive, the pie in the sky. They gamble not with what they can afford to lose but for what they cannot afford to win, and that's when they get into trouble. In other words, greed is the key.

The most popular form of poker is Texas Hold'em which has been the latest fashion in the States for the past 15 years. Everyone is dealt three cards, then you are given another card: "the turn". The final card is called "the river" or "Fifth Street" which may change everything. You could say that the players live or die on Fifth Street.

I play with friends. It's a macho kind of thing. Risk and being on the edge; a test of courage and stability, which come down to the same thing. The good poker player always expects the unexpected.

Will I carry on playing for ever? I think so; it's a tough game for tough guys.

For poker players on a roll: Cards and dice in a gilt-edged powder-blue calfskin poker case, pounds 65 from Asprey's at 165-169 New Bond Street, London W1.