Eppy Deeps

I'm back after a short hiatus. It's just. Can't keep my big gab shut for long. I'm indian. We'd die if we couldn't speak out loud.

Wasn't it just a hectic weekend then? Probably was for you guys but I preferred that nice 4 by 4 thing called the bed. In fact, I only did 2 houses this year. My granny's and RT's. Both experiences by itself. Actually, about the only thing that has the greatest impact each year on my Deepavali is the gambling involved. Impact because it impacts my wallet more than any other aspect of my life. I've never really done justice to the whole whitewashed bleach-cleansed "right" way of celebrating a festival, that is to visit, spread the cheer, eat your goodies, watch your TV and then leave looking for the next victim.

I think any occasion that has gone on around me, usually involves two major portions, the alcohol and the gambling. I am a recovering gambling addict as it is. I had to take a huge loan from my mum once to cover my debts [If debts I am responsible for is 10% of the total, then debts motherfuckers who bet through me and fled would be the remaining 90%] and due to that watching EPL and Champions League games is so irritating to me now. Watching these blokes score their goals and grating your fingernails on the chalkboard is all the same now. It's just not so appealing after all when you don't have 2 big ones on the game and are furiously egging your favourites on. Instead I've since turned my attention to the less addictive - more habitual state lottery games like 4D and the Big Sweep. I figure on a mathematical sense, the odds definitely are better.

If you bet $100 with a bookie, you win about $90 give or take. With Singapore Pools, depending on price odds, you could walk away 2-3 times your stake richer. With 4D, it's more of a bet one to get 250 odds give or take. With the Big Sweep, it's put down $3 which could have been your lunch money and walk away a millionaire. The payout compared to the stake. What you blokes dabbling in the stock market might appreciate as a price to earnings ratio. Learn this term, even Buffet looks at these stats before making his kill in the markets.

So, yes, I went over to my granny's and since we're such a good clean-cut family, there was no gambling table set up, a la Chinese New Year mahjong marathons. I had to settle for Uno. I didn't start the game, just happened to stumble upon it. It has been quite a while since I've caressed these cards, a game that is I believe a permanent marker in every childhood of my age group. So, I saw 3 cousins and an aunt attempting to play this game and I sat with the one who had the largest number of cards left and "offered" to play her hand for her and make her win. It wasn't about 5 minutes into my gameplay that I enquired over a few technicalities and was brought back to reality by a 15 yr old cousin:

S: anneh, how can you not know this?
Me: [thinking he was going to be condescending] You think every game I know the rules is it, just ask only right, want to tell means tell, if not shut up.
S: Nooooo. You know where I learnt to play Uno, I mean who taught me?
Me: Who?
S: Your house la. You teach me the rules, the strategies, the cheating methods, every different way to play the game!
Me: Urmz, is it? Oh ya. Those days la.

A snap back to a coupla years. Years fly by fast I realize. Also a snap back to primary school when Uno was not banned in school, but poker cards were. So, we devised how to gamble with Uno cards. And when that got found out, we used poker cards that were so small, they were easily hidden in pencil boxes and the girls' purses. We also used the black and white Reversi magnetic chips to stake our bets. Black was 20 cents and white was 50 cents. Even that got found out, because we had a few class snitches who thought this was the way to a better PSLE grade. Anyhow, from black/white reversi we proceeded on to using Mentos sweets to place our bets so the evidence can be quickly chewed and consumed.

From then, the culture had set. Behind the tuckshop, under the mango tree, even our school terrapin pond were good places to hide our poker cards so we could resume sessions. On some marathon sessions, because the bell rang before we could wrap up the game, everyone took his and her cards home so we could resume the very next day. Of course, when I got back, immediately I got on the phone to see who could give me the best trade off. Quite surprised it actually never occurred to them, that when play resumed in the morning during recess, I and another good pal always sweeped them clean.

This is also why board games are seldom played in my house. We play till violence ensues, every single time. Without fail. With Cluedo, I'd have stole a peek before the cards even went into the envelope. With Risk, I make ghost armies appear by dropping them skillfully with my left hand when my right was rolling the dice. With Carrom, just a twitch of the head by one of my brothers and one of my seeds conveniently dissapears. Any game you have, I'll find a way to get ahead. Not to be done out of the home though, I've personally seen a card cheat's last finger getting sliced off and it has definitely taught me not to play punk in the streets. But back to Uno now, and my personal guide to cheating:

1. A 6 is also a 9 - Use this optical illusion well but don't be a dumb fuck and throw just 2 cards down expecting people not to spot the difference. Do it with 3-4 cards and "seal" the offending card in an appropriate angle, letting the sides stick out but not the number.

2. Cooperation - The game is all about who loses all their cards first. When playing Daidee we call it guarding, i.e. if the next bloke is on his last card the previous bloke is duty bound to keep throwin his highest valued card to "block" his swift exit from the game. Same here. If some dude happens to just be racing away to the finish line, "block" him by instructing the bloke before him to "draw two" or "draw four" him. Provide good backup, by throwing him the correct colour for him to do so.

3. Sneaky Eyes - Make sure you know who is carrying what at all times. This aint a professional poker game so no one's gonna maintain poker faced expressions and hold their cards to their chest. Wait for the opportune moment and steal a peek. When the person is about to win, inform the rest on the colour and number of his last card so they won't give him the opportunity to. For all you know, you could win just by them sabotaging his win process.

4. Hide the cards - Simply put. In an Uno deck there are 108 cards. Unless you play with highly anal retentive personnel, simply placing 2 cards which have no part in your gameplay in your pockets aint gonna make a big difference. Make up for the deficit by offering to shuffle the deck after your game.

5. Sleight of Hand - This is extremely tricky and should only be attempted if you are darn sure you know what to do. This is the kind of thing that can make or break, not your game but YOU. See, the deck is often piled sky high with previous cards that were thrown. Somewhere in there, there is a draw four / wild / draw two card lurking. With some skillful sleight of hand, that particular card can be retrieved for your future usage by proper distraction. This method is best used when there was a rowdy blood thirsty battle of "draw two"s. You know... The battles where it seems everyone has 2-3 power cards and everyone is so eager NOT to be the guy who draws 40 as a penalty.

Continuing on, this Deepavali we gambled too at my place. Twas on the eve and apart from me, the rest were all on gin and juice. It seems like such a bad thing to do, when you gamble with alcohol around. Money is such an evil master sometimes. And worse when you play with friends. Every year what I'd like to do is use the money earned to just buy more food / beer whatever is on the table.

This year, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the two blokes who just happened to pop by and join in. Without you, our allowances for the next week wouldnt have materialized. Yet, it's not your fault to know that we used to be actually roving card players, plunging into any funeral, wedding or function at the void decks, honing ourselves to play as a team. What you also didn't know was, although we played fair and didn't cheat at all, it was not an "every man for himself" game but a "let's bankrupt the newbies" game. You should have seen the signs when I allowed "credit" during my turn as the dealer.

Which brings me to my next gambling adage: "Never lust for a game, you'll definitely lose". If you offer someone an informal bet on a certain soccer game, and that person says "nah" don't force your way through till he agrees. I 100% confirm chop you will lose that one. It's just like that with luck and fate innit? Don't lust. It's one of the 7 deadly sins anyhow.



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