Poker

I had a Las Vegas coffee mug, with a royal straight flush pattern, which I was very fond of. I used it nearly every day for 10 years. It was a little gift from Bill Boyd, reputed to be the best five card stud player there ever was. When I got home recently, the mug was broken. And next day I heard that Bill Boyd had died, at the age of 91, no doubt to join the great celestial poker game in the sky.

Bill Boyd, known to everyone as Mr Boyd as a mark of respect, was special. He had grown up in Arkansas at the start of the century, drifted into poker, and discovered his talent. He ran the poker at the Golden Nugget in Vegas for 36 years, until his retirement in 1982. He made a tremendous success of this venture, by establishing sensible rules and ensuring fair play. The poker room became the home of the game and the arbiter of standards, as Binion's Horseshoe is today.

When Texas hold 'em became popular, a generation ago, five card stud died out as too mechanical. This was hard luck on Bill. He had earned the most graceful tribute to a poker player I have ever heard, bestowed by none other than Amarillo Slim. "I'd rather catch frost on my winter peaches than sit down to play five card stud with Mr Boyd."

I only once saw Bill playing five card stud, but it gave me an idea of his style. He was playing heads-up against a fresh-faced man in a suit and tie. Bill was showing:

(?) 8-6-3-10 and his opponent

(?) 8-7-3-10. There was a lot of money on the table. The man checked and Bill made a pot-sized bet at him. As the man havered, Bill started a sort of sing- song in his twanging Arkansan accent: "Ya got a pair of 10s down there? Ya better raise it right now. Maybe you ain't got 10s. Ya got 8s, hunh? That'd be good, 8s back-to-back. Hey, we cain't both have 8s can we? Or didja catch 7s? Ya think that's good 'nuf, go ahead ..." and so on.

The man sat there, like a rabbit in the headlights, staring at the cards. Finally he seized his chips, threatening to call. Then he stood up, grabbed his chips and fled, leaving the 70-year-old Bill sitting on his own.

It was against etiquette for me to ask Bill what his hole card was, but he told me anyway. "Pair of 6s."

"Weren't you taking a big risk?"

"He had ace in the hole, wouldn't have played it else."

Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Web Application Support Manager

    £60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

    ** Secondary Geography Teacher Required In Liverpool **

    £120 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

    ** Female PE Teacher Urgently Required In Liverpool **

    £120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

    ** Secondary Maths Teacher Required In Liverpool **

    £120 - £165 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: Job opportunities for Secon...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments