The calm routine of Greg's weekly home poker game was energized yesterday when author John Blowers joined our game. John's novel, Life On Tilt: Confessions of a Poker Dad has been so successful that it will soon be released as a movie and Greg's wife Ann has just finished her second interview with him on her weekly Schenectady Today Show on Channel 16 Schenectady Public Access Television.
Greg invited him to play poker.
So we were treated to playing against a published poker author as well as to the details of what it means to have a published novel on the verge of becoming a movie. John even brought along some clips to give us a sense of the film.
It was very exciting.
I remembered being at a home party with neighbor Bill Kennedy just as his book Ironweed was becoming a movie and there was similar excitement today connected to the expectation of a coming film and similar talk about the process and frustrations on managing to make everything happen. It is one thing to have an idea worth developing in fiction; it is another to meet and solve all the problems that come up as a novel, and then a movie, move to completion. We heard a good bit of the story of those processes.
All this was quite a contrast to the mundane banter of old retired grumps at our weekly game, Replacing the same old tired cliches like, "Leave one chip out, and you won't have so many" were stories that reflected all the excitement of film making and writing.
I never really could seem to engage Bill Kennedy in much conversation, but John was so amiable and enthusiastic that there was no distance between any of us. He was delightful in every way, and as Nugent remarked, very "down to earth." It can be hard to be a successful author without going "on tilt" with the success. John was "on the real" as my students would say, totally engaging and personable. I sure hope the movie becomes a big hit.
Of course by the end of the game we had all managed to plan John's next three books and movies, all of them about us of course. We live such exciting lives. We even have a sound track in mind. Bruce can sing the old classic, "Gloom despair and agony on me" ending with the thrilling climax, "if it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." I hope John was paying attention. Stories like ours just don't come along every day.
John did give us a synopsis preview of a script idea for what may be his next film. It will certainly be very inspiring. It was a treat to be included in the process and asked for our feedback. I was reminded of Twain in his little pentagon shaped outdoor writing shed, calling in the children so they could listen to what he had written that day.
Of course, we are not children; we just act like children. And we weren't in Greg's poker shack down by the Lisha Kill, but in Ann's kitchen with a supper of sausage, pasta and appetizer. There is a certain romance about Greg's shed. But I better enjoy the comfort of Ann's kitchen, where Chica might lick my plate if I leave it on the floor, but she cannot not tip over the entire table, poker chips, cards and all.
My son Peter also played. He had given me John's novel for father's day and so there were three of us there who had enjoyed reading it. Hearing how the characters we encountered in the novel were morphing into film stars made the poker game into a bit of a literary/film workshop.
As well as discussion about the movie, John talked about his coming articles in Poker Pro magazine. He is going to Vegas tomorrow to work on interviewing for those articles. He also managed a place at the table in "The Best Damn Poker Show" and told us the story of those auditions.
John's novel explores classic tensions between an all consuming passion for poker and the demands of marriage and family. And yes there are encounters with "the other woman" and even with "another other woman."
Woven between the interpersonal conflicts are hands of poker where famous no limit players play against the protagonist Johnnoe Zandoken as he pursues his poker dream. So the book is part no limit poker and part chick flick. As "Cowboy" Kenna James writes in the Foreword, " When you reach the crossroad in life of whether to listen to your mind and hold true to your responsibilities or go on "tilt" and follow you dreams, which path do you choose?"
You can see how the movie will explore themes similar to those in "Rounders."
John also gave us lessons in computing outs, percentages, and pot odds. His mind worked quickly on the mathematics. I am hoping he did not teach Nugent too well. Right now none of us computes such information. I have given up all hope in learning to do it fast or accurately enough for it to be on any help to me. Bill, however, being a math teacher, may well have found some good new strategy.
All in all it was a delight game, Greg, and I did not even mind mind losing my $27. (Yeah, like that is ever gonna be true) Thanks for the treat.
And thanks for coming around to enliven our game John. I especially liked seeing Greg pushed to the wall. Delightful too was to see son Peter come back from defeat to win money. Especially since he then could pay me back what I staked him.
Twice Peter checked a nut flush and trapped John. That may take the edge off Peter's defeat this week. In a free online tournament Pete was one hand away from an all expenses paid trip to Vegas along with a free bankroll and a seat at a $20.000 tournament. going all in with his pocket sevens, Peter was called by A-6 with a 6 on the board.
Of course, the Ace showed on the river.
What a week of poker this has been. First 34 hours of poker in Connecticut and now an encounter with a published poker author. This retirement life ain't so bad, even if I can't seem to win money anywhere.
John Blowers sites of interest: