I grew up playing card games. Crib, Lodgepole Rummy, and Guts Poker were the staples amongst my family.

Crib was reserved for 2–3 people. Often it would be my Grandad and I playing each other in the afternoon. I learned all sorts of sayings from him, the one that always stuck out was “15–2 and the rest will do.” Playing crib locked in simple arithmetic for me. Into adulthood and still to this day I play games with my Mom and Dad when we visit.

We played Lodgepole rummy after big family dinners. It would be 8–10 of us sitting around the table we just shared a meal at. It kept the conversation going. Being a contract rummy game it took at least two hours. For me being the only kid at the table there was a ton to keep track of. What was I trying to build with my cards? What suits were each player collecting to get their runs? What numbers were they collecting to get their sets? I love playing this game. We taught it to my German cousin when he lived with us for a year in my teens. We still play this game when we get together as a family, my sister believes she is the world champion, I am happy she believes that.

Guts poker wasn’t played as frequently as the other two games. This was my introduction to the world of poker. A game where the cards matter, but not as much as the way you play them. It didn’t take too long before I learned who was conservative and who had guts. I loved saying guts and showing a low card when I scooped the pot, I can still see my Grandad giving me a wink.

Perhaps the greatest thing to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic for me is the Friday night Zoom poker game I host with my buddies. We play No Limit Texas Hold’em poker (sometimes Pot Limit Omaha) and talk. Wide ranges of topics: COVID, Equality, Finances, Sports, and Parenting are the hottest of topics. We share successes such as new children coming into the world, purchasing new homes and getting new jobs. Most importantly we have a ton of laughs at each other’s expense.

I hit play on my playlist and whatever song plays that becomes the title of my story. This is my writing practice.