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(Writer’s note:  I penned this a decade ago and it still rings true even today. Over the years I’ve considered changing some of the names used in the course of the tale (due to transgressions), but have left the original intact for posterity and to reflect the original inspiration. To you, the reader, and with apologies to Clement Moore, we pass along our wishes for a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays and Seasons’ Greetings and wish the best of the New Year to all!)

A Visit from St. Doyle

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house,
The only thing heard
Was the clicking of a mouse.

The stockings were hung
By the chimney with care.
But nothing was in them
As I looked at two pair.

The tournament was late,
The blinds they were high.
I considered a raise
And behind heard a sigh.

The children were silent
And snuggled in bed
As thoughts of a boat
Danced in my head.

With Mom (who sighed) merrily wrapping
And I in my visor,
I had settled into the game
And considered my raiser.

When out on the lawn
There arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my chair
And ignored the chat banter.

Towards the door
I flew like a flash,
Threw back the bolt
And opened the latch.

To what did my wondering eyes did appear,
The saint of the game and eight of his peers.
He had a big cowboy hat and a grand old smile
And with a sweep of his hand ushered in those in the rear.

“In Chris, in Barry,
In Howard and Annie.
In Jennifer, in T. J.,
And Phils, Hellmuth and Ivey.”

To the table we flew,
The chips they were clicking.
The discussion was merry
Over the eggnog we were drinking.

He spoke reverently
As we played through the night.
He looked in my eyes
And showed me the light.

“The game, it is great,
The time spent is a blast.
But it isn’t everything,
Enjoy each day like it’s your last.”

“Play the game and enjoy
Who knows, you may be great.
But remember friends and family,
Those things never abate.”

The eight and I nodded in agreement
A toast was raised to The Man
As he grandly announced,
“Everyone all-in, last hand.”

The cards whisked to us,
As did the flop, turn and river,
And we all peeked at our hole cards
To see what was delivered.

It came around to me
And I turned up my hand
I stared down wide-eyed
At the royal flush that I had.

The cash went to me,
As well as the cheers of the gang,
And we all left the table
As the Christmas bells rang.

The mood was joyful
As they all faded from sight.
St. Doyle looked back to me
And had one final insight.

“The best to you in the game,
And the best in your life.
May your hands be huge,
Merry Christmas and good night.”

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