The game of poker is an All-American game. During WWII it was played in
all of the military establishments especially the Sway Back. We of the
transmitter room had the ideal quarters for such an endeavor. The room
had lights and the lights went out when the door was opened. At night
the orders were darken ship.
It was in these games that Ras Seaton and I got to know each other. He
tells the story of the night when the door opened and didn't close soon
enough to the point that we become impatient. Bets were being laid. One
of the players yelled close that dam door. Well he closed the dam door
and it was a dam officer. I don't remember how we got out of that one.
Poker was supposed to be a friendly game. I didn't and don't believe that.
All the players are out to take each other's money and I don't believe
that is friendly. In our game we had what I call a draw out artist I am
sure all supposed friendly games have this person. We'll call him Draw.
Draw doesn't know how to play the game of poker; all he knows is that if
he's asked "are you in" that he is to throw money in the pot. Draw is the
type of person that has 2 duce's against a pair of aces. The third duce
is out and he draws the forth to make his hand 3 duce's. I think there was
a time when we really gave it to Draw. We knew that we had the winning
hand so we really bumped up the pot and took a bundle of money from Draw.
That didn't teach him the proper lesson.
Then there was the Swede. Of course he came from Minnesota. The Swede was
a terrific poker player. He knew when to hold them and he knew when to fold
them. Wiley Nelson stole that line for his song the crook. The game of
poker almost became friendly when the Swede and RAS Seaton were in the game.
They were a joy to play with. The number of pots that he won rewarded the
Swede for his skill at poker. He had a wad of money so big that he couldn't
carry it around without creating a bulge in his clothing. In order to keep
it safe during inspection he hid it in one of the transmitters. The
transmitter had a sign saying Danger High Voltage on it. This kept the
The Swede would play until he got bored then he would say deal me out I
have to go to the head. In about an hour or so he would come back and say
deal me in. We would ask where he had been. He would say he stopped off at
the laundry and played a few hands. The laundry is another story in its
self. The laundry had a game run by some unknown. Let's call him Duke.
Duke ran the game like a pro. He dragged every pot he didn't gamble. The
game was a big one. I think no limit. You had to be a gambler to play in
that game. Draw wouldn't last one hand in that game. The duke had look-
outs in officer's quarters that would warn him when officers were headed
towards the laundry. Duke some how wrangled a transfer to shore duty in
the States. It was reputed that he left with about 10,000 dollars. One
month later we were in Mare Island for Kamandorski received damage repairs.
The Duke came aboard begging to be taken back aboard the Sway Back. He was
broke. I don't know if he made it.