H. JOHN, NOT BROTHER AL, MCQUIRE

•ON GAMBLING
(“Bayou Sam, from South Louisiann, had gambling on his brain.
Evangeline, from the Maritime, was slowly going insane.”) EVANGILINE.
Living at the beach does have some disadvantages. You have to drive two hours before you get anywhere. Wish I knew now to fly a private plane. Better still let Margaret fly it. I haven’t been able to find a good local card game. Miss my Elon bunch. I did get in a game but it was a little heavy for me. I like to play for fun. Not so one John McGuire. John is the brother of the basketball coach and announcer Al McGuire and also former NBA Knickerbocker, Dick McGuire. John’s first love wasn’t basketball. About 90 years old and the proud father of nine children, John is a consummate curmudgeon. Not much casual conversation with John. Particularly during a poker game. I tried. He fascinated me with his dogged concentration and love of gambling. I could tell he was a cut above local boys. Several levels above me. I gleaned the information from the game’s players that John had made some money. Finally I got to where he would talk to me. Particularly if I came early before the game started. How did you make your money? Basketball? No way was the reply! He then told me the story. He had a good friend who was a lifetime business partner. But like John, his first priority was not business, but gambling. Trouble was, while they were good at business, they were lousy at the race track. Their business was the bar business in New York City. “We figured out that heterosexuals went to the bars on weekends, but that gays went every night.” Thus a move to Queens and the gay bar business. And a good business. Trouble was, John said “…we’d make a ton of money every night and then lose it back just as fast, or faster, the next day at the track”.
Most of the time John sat quietly during the game. His only intention being to get the crowd to play as many hands as possible. If he wasn’t getting good cards he would often blurt out something that the crowd often didn’t understand, or pay any attention to. “Red board” would come from nowhere. Finally I asked him: John, what does it mean when you say red board. After he explained his action I realized this comment came when the conversation was too long, too idle, or just an excuse (“by God, if I had of caught a deuce I’d have reamed you”). John explained that at the race track, after the race, the results were posted on a big red board.
Once posted. The race was over. Move on. Play another hand. Golfers are the second, next to poker players for whining (“…if I hadn’t double bogged #7…red board.)
John wouldn’t give you any extra information. Once, when asked if he was bluffing, John stated “…my name is Zink and what do you think. I do your laundry for nothing!” After prodding him at the game’s conclusion, John told me about the laundry sign in New York. When the person was told his bill was 40$, he said what about the sign. The manager explained “…you read the sign wrong. “My name is Zink, and what do you think? I do YOUR laundry for NOTHING?” Mr. Zink would ask.
John’s daughter would bring him and come get him. One day after our game I noticed she wasn’t there. I told John to call her and let her know I’d take him home. We still didn’t know
each other well. He looked a little funny when I said “…there is a price for my taking you home.” What price? “You have to tell me one Al McGuire story nobody else knows.” John thought a few minutes and then asked: “Do you remember, when teams first integrated, how coaches were asked how many black kids did the coach play? “The standard joke (I think it was a joke),
was “two at home, three on the road, and four if I’m losing?” I do remember that. John said that we altered that to “three at home, four on the road, and five if we had a bet on the game”.
Gambling certainly has a dangerous side.

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