Back then, I knew when to fold them

By Robert Smith

At one time, both Richmond and Lexington were a “little rough around the edges”. Richmond had its coal miners and Lexington had its river workers, who were known as “river rats”. The old-timers told me that at one time Lexington had 40 bars, five houses of prostitution and five gambling establishments. Richmond had its share of places. From my memory, there were three bars on the north side of the square across from the courthouse.
There were a number of poker establishments in Richmond, but the fanciest one was run by a guy named “Mule”. He had two rooms. The outer room had some tables and chairs, a Coke machine, and hot coffee. The back room was where they played poker. The only game they played was Low-Ball.
One cold winter night after I had gone to the movies, I stopped by to watch the game.All of the sudden, I saw a police car pull up in front.  I said, “Holy Cow, the cops are here.”
One of the players said, “Relax son, they’re just coming in to warm up”.
Sure enough, two policemen came in, helped themselves to some coffee and went back to the game room to watch the game for a while and then they left.
The game would start on Friday nights and would run until Sunday afternoon. A lot of the players would stay there the whole time. I don’t know how they did it.
Friday nights was when the bad players came in, about half drunk, and they would lose their whole paycheck. The good players looked upon them like throwing meat to the lions.
It was funny to watch them when they went “busted”.  They would look around the table to see who they could borrow some money from. The rest of the players would not make eye contact with them.They would be too busy counting their money or looking at their cards.
When I got older, I played with them, but I would leave at midnight on Fridays. The easy pickings were over by then and I knew I couldn’t beat the old pros.

Robert Smith is a 1957 graduate of Richmond High School.

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