Thursday, May 26, 2016

Don’t Egg Me On

More than 10 years ago, I picked the name of this blog along with a pseudonym -- “Short-Stacked Shamus” -- and at the time both the blog and the persona resided firmly within a poker-only world.

As such, most who came across either “Hard-Boiled Poker” or that nom de scribble at least had some idea what they meant. “Short-stacked” was a clear enough adjective for poker players, and while not everyone knew what a “shamus” was, it wasn’t difficult to bring up the genre of hard-boiled detective novels and films as a kind of thematic inspiration.

Now both the blog and the “Shamus” name exist outside of poker, too, which means I find myself in spots where I’m explaining the name of the blog (or “SSS”) to people who aren’t familiar with either poker or detective stories. The fact that I (crazily) use “shortstackedshamus” as part of my primary email address doesn’t help matters, either.

It all can be a little humorous, sometimes, especially when the “hard-boiled” adjective is first understood as having something to do with eggs.

It is a weird adjective, if you think about it, meant to convey the “hardness” or tough-natured quality of the characters populating those stories of crime and corruption. The protagonists -- guys like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and the Continental Op -- are forced to deal with the worst examples of humans behavior while remaining somehow unmoved or impervious.

Thinking of eggs, though, couldn’t be further removed, in terms of what they suggest. Even hard-boiled eggs are pretty easy to smash, and when you get to the jelly-like whites and crumbly yolks they are kind of the opposite of hard.

Eggs don’t have a lot to do with poker, either. Unless, of course, we’re talking about eggsposed cards. Or eggspected value.

Okay, those were both pretty bad. Rotten, even. Really laid an egg there. Boy, do I have egg on my face. But hey, you can’t make an omelet without....

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