Here’s a fact: to take part in a humble game of home poker within the state of Illinois is a criminal offence. No exemption exists for domestic, non-commercial gambling between “legitimate guests or friends”, as the UK’s Gambling Commission so charmingly puts it. Tangential research corner: I was amused and/or nerdy enough to find out if Britain’s Gambling Act 2005 goes into any more detail about the required level of friendship legitimacy (would a LinkedIn connection count?) and although no answers were forthcoming, it did throw up this glorious piece of dry legal wit. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Section 42:
(1) A person commits an offence if he—
(a) cheats at gambling, or
(b) does anything for the purpose of enabling or assisting another person to cheat at gambling.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) it is immaterial whether a person who cheats—
(a) improves his chances of winning anything, or
(b) wins anything.
Apropos nothing, on Friday night I very much enjoyed taking part in an intensive one-night-only method acting course. Although my character didn’t win the simulated “poker game”, he did enjoy a brief advantage in having so little idea whether his cards were any good that no one else could figure it out either. I’m also warming to whisky, very slightly. As in, I now finish my glass.
The next morning, I set off with Randi, Jason, Catherine and AJ for our weekend in New Glarus, Wisconsin. Dubbed ‘Little Switzerland’ (although Switzerland seems plenty little in its own right) the town is famous for its brewery which opens for free, pleasantly low-key and self-guided tours. There’s not a great deal to actually see (large metallic containers and pipes which presumably have beer inside) but you’re welcome to drink a pint or more of the stuff while doing it, or else explore the snowy but sunny garden outside.
Aside from beer, Wisconsin is also known for cheese – clearly a state with the right priorities. At dinner we ordered a cheese plate, fried cheese curds and cheese fondue for starters, at which point our server actually refused to take any more of our order “until you’ve finished that”. (Her scepticism proved well-founded, and since we didn’t order anything else, it was really her loss.) And that, plus more board games, out-of-city stargazing and one alarmingly anti-abortion roadside poster on the way back (“baby Jesus was once an unborn infant!”) pretty much captures our gentle weekend adventure.
In case you were wondering, yes, home poker is illegal in Wisconsin too. You’d have to hop another state over to Minnesota for that, if you were interested in that sort of thing.
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