posted by Matt W on July 24th, 2013

Overall, I imagine my children think I’m a pretty good father. But if you asked them to tell you one thing about me, they would probably say that I drove away with a pizza on the roof of my car, or that I cheat at cards.

Years ago, I think I was in 9th grade, I went to Hawaii with a buddy of mine and his family. Over the course of the week, we played poker with all the other kids our age and probably took about $20 in pennies off them. My buddy had an incredible run of “luck” whenever I dealt (from the bottom of the deck). Basically, I look at it as, we just provided a cheap form of entertainment for those kids. Every once in a while I would play cards with high school and college buddies, but partly because we were friends and mostly because I was considerably smaller than most of the people I hung out with (and didn’t like getting beat up), I didn’t cheat much. And once when I was dating my wife, we were playing poker with her parents and for one evening I cheated like crazy. It was probably my best work as a dealer and we weren’t playing for money.

So, when my kids came along, I used this “skill” to liven up the game a bit. While I have seen maybe a few dozen truly great hands over the course of my poker playing days, when my kids were young they thought it was common to get a full house or flush. One of the truly great hands played in my family was playing 5 card draw with my oldest “drawing” a full house with kings high and my middle son “miraculously” drawing four jacks. You should have seen the look on their faces. Not exactly the poker faces they thought they had. Also what better way to frustrate my sons than to have my daughter who is considerably younger constantly beat them at poker? She didn’t even know what she was doing half the time but was constantly saying things like, “What’s it called when all the numbers are in a row?”

“A straight, sweetie.”

“Oh, then I have a straight again! Yay!”

So here are the facts. I have never cheated at a card game other than poker. Really, the only time I cheated for money was in 9th grade for pennies. I’ve dealt my children an incredible amount of fun hands over the years. And finally, I’m really not that good at dealing off the bottom of the deck, I just know how much I can get away with and you can get away with an awful lot when dealing to young boys. They’re not exactly the most observant group. As my sons were too caught up in the action to notice, I basically dealt with the cards face up for most of the great card “showdowns.”  They never caught me and I don’t ever remember dealing to help myself win when playing with my kids. Ever.

Now, I will say that I am good at cards, but I’m good at cards because I count cards and I keep track of what everyone is playing. In most games, I can tell you what cards people have in their hands a few rounds into the game. I’m an observant person with a good memory, isn’t that a good thing?

So, to my kids, quit calling me a cheater and instead think how boring cards might have been growing up if I wasn’t the one dealing. It was a positive experience, not the low-life card cheating experience they portray. And the fact that they’re all pretty good players because I taught them well also shouldn’t go unnoticed. I’m not a cheat; I’m an entertainer and teacher. I’m a Dad.

File Under King of the Castle, Mr. Cool