I love poker adventures-finding and playing the game in unusual places. I don't like to boast, but I may have played poker in more places than anyone else except, perhaps, perpetual poker cruisers Jan Fisher and Linda Johnson.
I've been going on these self-designed poker adventures for more than fifteen years. They included a bed and breakfast poker room in Fairbanks, Alaska; a casino in the Yukon Territory with the best structure for dealers (an Omaha/8 game with $2.50 chips); a no limit hold 'em game in the back woods of Alabama; and a rocking pot limit game with expatriates in a hotel ballroom in Budapest, Hungary.
My latest poker adventure was in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada, a country that the U.S. invaded in 1983 to free it from the grips of a crazy Marxist who had assassinated and overthrown the sane Marxist Maurice Bishop. Grenadians, to a person it seems, welcome the very few American tourists that visit the island. Perhaps, I thought, they embraced our great American game of poker as well.
When I was planning the trip, I went on the Internet to find a game. Though I visited poker sites and Grenadian tourism sites, no one anywhere knew of any poker or gambling of any kind on this tropical island. Some folks gratuitously suggested I travel to Aruba or Costa Rica instead if I wanted to play poker. But that would be too easy.
Undaunted, and attracted by the beautiful beaches, the aroma of the nutmeg, and an unbelievable deal on an airline ticket and week's accommodation at a luxury resort, I went anyway-figuring I'd find a game upon my arrival.
When I visited the Bahamas a few years ago, my cab driver found me a couple of underground games in Nassau. So when I took the courtesy shuttle from the airport to my resort in Grenada, I asked the driver if he knew of any poker. He promised to get back to me in the next day or so with his answer.
He called the following afternoon and mentioned that I could play poker with him and his buddies the following night at a nearby hotel. He picked me up and drove me to the game. Talk about guest services!
I played with four middle-aged Grenadians. The game was dealer's choice. They asked me what I liked to play. I said that I'd gladly play whatever they most liked. I was pleased and surprised to find that they all loved 7-card stud. We played for three hours.
We played no limit table stakes with a $25 buy-in and a $5 ante. Play was very loose. On the third hand, I was the dealer and dealt myself a pair of Aces. I shoved in all of my chips. Everyone called. I improved to aces full and won everyone's stack. Everyone bought in again. I folded the next few hands. The deal returned to me. I started with Ac-Kc-3c. I shoved again. Three players called. I improved to a flush and won another huge pot. I got a couple of suspicious glances. But I kept winning even when other players dealt.
Though the maximum buy-in was small, everyone was so loose and my hands were so strong that by the end of the night I was up by nearly $500. After putting up the ante for the four other players for a final hand (that I won) the game ended. We all shook hands, I found my driver, who had not played, and he drove me the three minute ride home. I gave him $100.
There are many good reasons to visit this tropical island: the beautiful beaches, spectacular diving and snorkeling, the friendly Grenadians, great hiking through the tropical rain forest, excellent and relatively inexpensive local cuisine, and accommodations that include great bargains and the height of luxury. But if that isn't enough for you obsessive poker players, now you can add one more good reason to visit. Please feel free to contact me if you'd like help finding a Grenadian poker game.
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning 7-Card Stud and Winning No Limit Low Limit Hold'em. He hosts the radio show House of Cards, broadcast Mondays at 5 - 6 p.m. in Boston, MA, on 1510 AM, and on the Internet at www.houseofcardsradio.com.