Chirping Chips

Inspired by the great Tommy Angelo! I watched his introduction video on his YouTube channel. His intro is great but I found myself obsessed with the background noises of the card room and the “Chirping Chips”

– Riffling

– Shuffling

– Reconfiguring into stacks

– Pushing a pile of chips from the center of the table on to a winner player

– The mound then stacked into columns … rows .. pillars

There’s a sea of poker tables under one roof. Commerce, The Bike, The Rio – A poker room near you.

The chirping crickets drown out the murmuring … the grumblings … the forced awkward conversations are a bit more muffled these days.

– You got it.

– You call with that?

– Nice hand

– Chips table 33

– Steve! Your seat is ready

– Set up!

– Big blind please!

There are masks now and they further dampen these voices and amplify the arena of insect legs rubbing against each other.

Here, I get my tiny stage. I can call for your attention with simple gestures. Eyes shift according to an awkward rhythmic but unexplained cadence. I get to perform here. I love to perform here.

These performances add to my bankroll. Collecting these bugs have paid for celebratory meals, wild nights out, quick vacations…

More recently they have been paying for art classes, swimming lessons and even tutoring. I’m slowly becoming Joey Knish

– “I owe rent, alimony, child support … My kids eat…”

I’ve been different versions of him for various portions of my life.

But life did take me away from this theater for a brief decade – Removed from the echoes of chips chirping.

Some of the fallout from 2020 brought me back. I had no idea I missed the comforting chirps of this arena.

I was performing again in front of old childhood friends and some little chirps came through over Zoom. The stages started getting bigger with different crowds. The chirps grew louder with a more serious audience. They noticed my performances as the weeks went by and the virtual chirps were my reward.

The soothing chirps were only memories of live casino chips. The memories turned into a home in beacon while I slept. 

As the family fell asleep one Saturday in July of 2021, that beacon led me to the Commerce Casino.

I walk in and all the worries over the last year slowly evaporate. The casual chirps gradually bring me comfort. The routine hasn’t changed much. The rituals are still there. Under each motion a chip is moving.

– Chips riffle *chirp*

– Shuffle machine opens, the dealer switches the deck out and the trap door closes *chirp*

– Cards are dealt and I can hear them individually glide off the deck *chirp*

– “It’s on you” *chirp*

I signed up as if it’s open mic at a comedy club. It’s been so long since I’ve done this and I wonder why there aren’t butterflies in my stomach. I realized that the crickets swarmed in and quietly consumed those butterflies the moment I heard the first chirp.

I head to the casino cage and get my chips. We’re ready to perform. I take my seat and as I take my chips out of their rack, I hear all of it. I’m joyfully treading through an ocean of chirping chips:

– I piece my columns of chips together *chirp*

– I post my blinds *chirp*

– I peel my cards and 3 seats down I hear it *chirp*

– Did he inhale with his mouth? *chirp*

– I fold my hand *chirp*

– I scoop a pot *chirp*

– I tip the dealer *chirp*

I swivel my chair to catch everyone do their part to keep the ocean of chips moving, chirping … performing


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