9.26.14 Issue

by Marshall Becker

Fifty years ago this summer, seven Jewish men in their late 20s and early 30s decided to play a game of poker. They were Larry Albert, Marshall Becker, Jim Farber, Jerry Krupinsky, Marshall Kushner, Bob Malashock and Sol Rosinsky. Right off, we decided to play every other Sunday, which we continued to do for the next 50 years. Hence the name: “The Never on Sunday Boys.”

After Sol left town and Jerry dropped out, we were joined by Tom Bernstein, Dick Zacharia, Stu Kutler and then Mark Romanik and Sandy Kasner.

At first, we played wherever we could: in houses, apartments, trains, hotels and yes, even on the second floor of an ice cream parlor. At some point, early in the game, we decided to hold an annual “hold-em” tournament in Las Vegas, which continued for a good number of years. Because we made it an annual event at the Barbary Coast and they provided us a suite, even the head of security came to the room to watch us play. Not because we were a risk, but because we were well acquainted.

While some people thought it was a little unusual to travel all those miles to play poker, we assured them this was something all reasonable people would do. Persuading our wives was a little more difficult.

Through the years, it took unusual occurrences to call off one of our games. When Neil Armstrong went to the moon, we were playing at Marshall Kushner’s house. We stopped dealing long enough to see him take a few steps, and decided we would never do that again.

When we started, we made sure our wives did not have a baby on poker night, that our daughters didn’t have a baby on poker night, and now we are at the point where our granddaughters aren’t allowed to have a baby on poker night. We assured our wives that if they really became sick on poker night, we’d check up on them from time to time. If it were a serious illness, we’d of course check more than once–assuming we were out of a hand.

As the years progressed, we learned a full house is not our residence at Passover, a straight is not someone who isn’t gay, and a flush has nothing to do with the bathroom.

We have played approximately 1,300 games over the years. We have played in torrential rain, and we have played in big blizzards. Our wives have all, at one time or another, been told that in the event we can’t make it home, “we will certainly try the next day.” During those 50 years, we have shared more than games: we’ve shared B’nai Mitzvah celebrations, high school and college graduations and weddings. We’ve watched children and grandchildren come into the world, and they have helped us share this long tradition.

One of the most amazing things about our 50-year-old game is that at the end of each year, every single player ended up winning money. At least, that’s what we all told our wives.

Due to the fact that some of us alter kakers occasionally misread their hands or have real trouble seeing the cards in the middle of the table, we know that in the not too distant future we will be playing our game at the Rose Blumkin Jewish Home.

And of course, when our time does come (hopefully not for a long time), we hope that God will reserve us a table with comfortable chairs and maybe even a little fudge. And just as in the past, everyone will be a winner.