There are a few poker leagues in Hong Kong, not to mention the private poker rooms, which may or may not be legal depending on the month, shape of moon, and whatever other crazy rules the government decides to enforce. One thing I’m sure is legal is the HK Poker League, which holds some tournaments in the W Hotel, and nothing illegal ever happens in 5-star hotels, except for that one in Central whose bar is teeming with prostitutes. Apparently I’m not allowed to write the name but it’s really, really obvious if you ever have a drink there. Poker has kind of exploded in Asia after exploding in the States, giving uncool guys everywhere the chance to imagine themselves throwing aces on the table, winning millions, and having some hot girl make out with them. Unfortunately, girls that play poker for realz are not hot. Even more disturbing, if you play a lot, you can be subject to poker goggles, where you think unattractive girls are attractive because they are playing poker and there are no other girls there. Other notable examples: beer goggles, Privé-goggles, investment-banking goggles, Amy-Winehouse goggles, beach-vacation goggles, flight-attendant goggles, and Korean-girl goggles. So I popped over to the W for one of their poker nights with my buddy Ben for a chance to win fabulous prizes like a night at the W. I like everything about the W except for that weird lobby music that plays making you feel as if you’re in a Bjork video. We saunter to the table, get our seating cards, and it’s off to the races. The action was pretty fast except for this one guy that would stop and think about betting like he was trying to solve the China-Taiwan straits issue. We had a good cast of characters, who I have given pseudonyms not to protect them, but because I can’t remember their names: • Ben: Good poker player. • Me: Bad poker player. • Anti-Ben: Tried to convince everyone poker was cool by being really chill but failed by becoming increasingly stressed out and irritable. • Alan: Reads two poker books a month, laughed in a pitch much higher than my nine-year old cousin (female). • Vest Guy: Wore a three-piece suit with the vest all the way buttoned up. Yup. One of those guys. • Girlfriend of some guy (“GOSG”): very bored, continued to make very stupid bets. • Taiwan Straits Guy: OMG I hated this guy. • Don: Nothing remarkable about him except when you think of a Don, he looked exactly like the type. In real life, he was probably named Emmanuel. The system is simple: People get eliminated until one person remains. Depending on where you stand you can win prizes like a card holder (sucks) or a hotel stay at the W (awesome). True to form, I began the night in card holder fashion, losing every hand or experiencing pyrrhic wins, like when I was dealt two kings and everyone folded before I could bet so I won ante. GOSG was eliminated really quickly, Ben 1 and Ben 2 made a good run, and Alan went up too, giggling creepily the whole time. After a few hours it was me, the Bens, Alan, Vest Guy, and Don remaining. As physics teaches us, when matter and anti-matter collide they explode and so too with the Bens. The bets started getting crazier and crazier and only Ben was left standing, leaving anti-Ben to go home and slap around his roommate or something. I eliminated Vest Guy by pure chance, which had been my goal all along, so I felt pretty good. Don kept winning by getting crazy good cards. Sorry—I don’t have anything amusing to say about him—he was just this guy. I bet all his friends say, “You know, Don, he’s a really good guy” and then there’s just 30 seconds of silence. In the end, it was down to me and Don. We played like this: Don folds. I fold. Don folds. I fold. Etc. It was really boring. So I decided to go all in. I did it three times. Don folded. The next hand I had the high pair so all in again. Same with Don. Sucker. We flipped over our cards and I had the high pair and Don had a low pair and also the high pair. It was over for me. He won. “Hey man,” Don said consolingly, “I live by the W so why don’t you give me your prize of dinner for two and I’ll give you my voucher for a free night’s stay at the W?” I immediately agreed. That Don, he’s a good guy.