The Mott Street Poker Club
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The Mott Street Poker Club


The First Lesson

Mr. Hong-Lung Expounds the Game


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The Mott Street Poker club is a classic gambling book that was published in 1888. It should be noted that the text is full of racial overtones, with a condescending demeanor towards Chinese immigrants. In fact, the author seems to be making fun of the Chinese fro the simple fact that they are Chinese (as opposed to Caucasian) and because they talk (and perhaps look) "funny." And not the mention their "funny" names. It is hard to imagine that even in those days this kind of humor was not considered provincial, to say the least.

The text is unedited, as it appears in the original book.

“WHAT you Callee him?” asked Mr. Gin-Sing, when Mr. Hong-Lung hammered the table with a flat-iron and declared the first session of the Mott Street Poker Club opened.

“Him callee polkel. Him playee with calds, allee samee Melican man.” Replied Mr. Hong-Lung, producing a pack of regulation squeezers from the mysterious recesses of his clothing.

Mr. Lee-Tip eyed the cards suspiciously and muttered something about “Melican man played calds too muchee clooked.” Mr. Hop-Sam however inquired:

“How you playee him?”

“Me sabbe belly well.” Replied Mr. Hong-Lung, briskly shuffling the cards like a conjuror. “Showee you light away quick.”

The requisite number of nickels and coppers having been produced from the pockets of the assembles company, and fresh joss stick lighted on the shelf over the clothes-wringer, to propitiate the deity of the establishment, the founder of the club proceeded to expound the mystery of the great American game in the purest Chinese. As he won pot after pot the game grew in interest until even the skeptical spirit of Mr. Lee-Tip gave way to curiosity under the excitement of the occasion, and he commenced to bet liberally in small silver. In this way the game went on for an hour quite actively and with a great deal of betting in small change, all of which Mr. Hong-Lung, who dealt every and never forgot himself, raked in. When the production of penknives and cigars as assets betokened that the club’s individual exchequer had reached low-water mark Mr. Hong-Lung gathered the cards together and put them in his pocket.

“What fol you stoppee play?” demanded Mr. Hop-Sam, who had become so deeply interested in the game that he had tied his legs together in a hard knot around the table-leg.
Mr. Hong-Lung pointed to the table with a bland smile.

“You catchee mol mon,” he replied. “No playee polkel if you no havee mon.”
And he swept the accumulated pile of accrued increment into his hat and went out bareheaded to lose it at fan-tan.

“How you likee him?” asked Hop-Sam pensively.

“Velly muchee nice game, polkel,” said Mr. Gin-Sing, scratching his ear softly.

“Hugh!” grunted Mr. Lee-Tip, disgustedly, “velly muchee nice game fol Hong-Lung.”

Mr. Hop-Sam turned his last remaining quarter over in his pocket several times, and then in a burst of desperate generosity invited his brother sufferers to join him in a sociable smoke of opium at the little joint around the corner.

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