In the last 2 years of my MBA life, I have had the good fortune of having so many wonderful friends and I won’t even attempt to count the number of times we have gotten together and have had an absolute blast. But food and games are always at the center of every such fun evening. (Arpana and Abhijit would want to include gossip as well though!). Several games come to my mind: Taboo has always been a favorite (especially after Manny gave it a cult status); Mafia has recently become popular (with Ayushman’s basic instincts, Abhijit’s persuasion skills and Shalini’s silent killer cameo); and who can forget Garima’s obsession (and Sid’s helpless look) with Truth or Dare and Ganesh’s proposal to Ayushman. But one game has become a rage off late and has aroused the gambler in all of us: POKER.
When we got the poker set, we had no idea it would become such a hit. We started playing it on random occasions and with all our amateurish inputs we customized it into good evening fun. Shine then gave some final touches to it (well he basically corrected some of the rules which I had made of my own) and it has now turned into an addiction which keeps us awake at nights providing us with moments which we will all remember for a very long long time.
Poker has created some interesting characters among us. Introducing Mr.Ayushman Dutta aka James Bond. Nowadays he is seen walking with the poker brief case and is even pursuing alternative careers in Bollywood. Don-3 might see a new star! He is the official dealer and is more often not, cursed by Swati for bad if not horrible cards. Swati is the “chupa rustam” who is expert in silently accumulating wealth while she is busy killing pigs simultaneously!
Shine comes in as the official Poker expert. He knows every nuance of the game and is extremely canny. Sometimes he too succumbs to the daredevil risk takers we have in our group. But he is the master enticer who quietly folds most of the time and focuses all his energy into coaxing people to go ALL-IN and in the process manages to create Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers out of Chases and Bank of Americas.
Shalini is the surprise package in every game. She is the ultimate risk taker who can even bet on nothing and manages to catch many a bluff in the process. She can be a Brazil in a recession and at the very next moment do a Greece too! But beware: Don’t give your money to her after dinner as she believes in wealth redistribution if you know what I mean.
Arpana adds a new dimension to the game with a complete grasp of all the rules! She is the one who refused to look at her own cards because she thought it was a new rule that Shine suggested. She can fold when she is the little blind and do check when the person before had bet a 100. She also takes a long look at the rule book to check the best winning combinations and then think for long before eventually saying: “I fold”. Alas, everyone just thought you had a straight flush!
Monica will be remembered as the one who only deals in 100s even if she was the big blind and the minimum bet was 20. Who else will raise bets by 50 in first 2 rounds and fold in the third? She is the self-proclaimed confidence player!
Neha and Abhijit complete the pack as the “UNPREDICTABLES” and add to the excitement of the game. They bluff with ease and play high stakes. Abhijit has the proverbial “bring it on” look and he gets into interesting duels with Neha who always thinks he is bluffing! Neha also has the Poker best line (To Abhijit of course) till date to her credit: “I will do a 9/11 on your Poker chip towers”! That is some serious threat! Poker is so much fun when you have such diverse skillsets on the table. All in all, it is Paisa Vasool!
But the best part is that we are always treated to some mouth-watering delicacies by Neha or Monica. Ayushman chips in with his delicious cakes. This last time, Abhijit’s mom was the co-conspirer in giving us all a food coma. We hog and then we go again. Of course, food calms some nerves while it pushes the adrenalin levels high in others who end up losing not only their money but also others’. But whether someone gets a straight or a flush, it is always a FULL HOUSE!
Starring in Alphabetical Order: Abhijit, Arpana, Ayushman, Monica, Neha, Shalini, Shine, Swati et Moi (Raj).
Cameos (not in any order): Wake up Sid, Garima, Abhijit’s mom, Mani Singh