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Her Master's Voice

by Lucy Rokach |  Published: Sep 01, 2007

We poker players are a strange breed of people. At the drop of a hat, we whiz around the world to play a game of cards. The more organized amongst us have arranged accommodations, the more impulsive don't worry about such minor detail. But the end result is the same. We just have to get to that game. Fog, snow, transport strikes, lack of funds, no bed to sleep in … nothing can stop us from getting our fix. And so it is with my friend Sandra.

She is a recreational poker player and, by and large, has confined her playing to a 40-mile radius from home. So, when Birmingham's Broadway Casino opened its doors, could she please get a lift, as she had no idea where it was? No problem. But eventually a time came when we were unavailable and she would have to find her own way down there. Her husband could not accompany her, as he works early in the morning and she's a night owl. No amount of written and verbal directions made any sense to her, but inasmuch as she was determined to play that night, her conscience-stricken husband went out and bought her a Tom-Tom (satellite navigation machine). I should mention here that she is of the generation for whom the phrase "digital technology" means extraordinary dexterity with one's fingers.

A typical male, he raced through the instructions at 160 mph, but he did set it up for her.

"Just listen to the instructions and you can't go wrong."

So, with a slight feeling of apprehension, she set forth. Naturally, the first thing she did was ignore the machine's directions. This was because she knew a quicker "local" route to the Motorway. However, she became an obedient girl once she was on the M6 and all went swimmingly until she reached one of several roundabouts.

"Take the first exit left," she was told, and obviously obeyed.

But, she soon found herself driving aimlessly around a huge commercial estate, and most ominously, the satnav went silent, no doubt having found itself playing no-limit instead of pot-limit.

Pitch black with not a soul about and abandoned by the satnav, her sense of apprehension skyrocketed.

"Speak to me," she shouted at the machine, but to no avail; silence reigned.

Having repeated this command several times, she did the only other sensible thing that any woman would do in the same situation, and started hitting the screen repeatedly. Whether it was this shocking assault or the fact that her wandering had brought her near the main road is unknown, but eventually the machine rediscovered its voice and brought her to the casino with only seconds to spare before the start of the tournament.

And there my story should end, but for another instruction that she had received from hubby - namely, "Don't leave it in view" (car thieves love them).

However, during the process of it being put out of view, the memory card came loose, so when the time came for her to go home, she had to reprogramme the damned machine from scratch. Matters were not helped by the fact that she was in an underground car park, so no matter how hard it tried, the mother satellite could not contact her machine. By now, Sandra's blood pressure and temper were at Krakatoa levels as she screamed and shouted at the stupid thick screen. Also, time was running out, as she'd already used up most of the 10 minutes allowed to exit the car park. In desperation, she tossed the offending article on the passenger seat and made her way out. Happily, she spotted a sign for the M6 and wisely decided to follow that. The only good thing about the situation, in retrospect, is that nobody else witnessed this understandable display of utter frustration.

Sandra finally found her way home and has lived happily ever after. However, I cannot speak for Tom-Tom. The last I heard, it was languishing on eBay under the heading "Miscellaneous Useless, Stupid Machinery."

What we poker players have to endure to get our fix! Needless to say, Sandra did no good in the competition. How could she after all of the trauma that she had to suffer?

Lucy has been playing poker for 20 years and has won more than $1 million in tournament prize money all over the world. She prefers playing pot-limit Omaha and pot-limit seven-card stud eight-or-better.