cards-and-chipsI love to gamble.

And I’m not talking about gambling on my fashion or menu choices, although both are often a prevalent form of this particular addiction.

“Hey, I wonder if these high heels are going to hurt my feet after the first hour…it’s gonna be a huge gamble if I wear them. Better pack some Keds in my purse.”

“I really am trying to expand my culinary horizons and am considering ordering that sea bass. Then again, I hate fish. Nah, I’ll get the cheeseburger with extra crispy french fries. Sea bass is too much of a gamble, and besides, isn’t it going extinct or something?”

poker-erinI spent the better part last weekend at home in Connecticut with my family, and convinced my brother nothing would make him happier (or richer) than driving me, I mean us, to the opening of the new MGM Grand at Foxwoods. After two hours of brother-sister bonding that went something like,

“Can you drive a little slower? You’re freaking me out.”

We arrived at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation with smiles on our faces and money burning in our pockets. Wasting no time, we jumped right in on the first casino floor and began playing some slots, namely one called “Jackpot Party.” It’s my personal favorite due to the flashy dance this computer dude does every time you hit a “Party” bar…you truly must play it to understand. I won some money right away, and we drank for free as cocktail waitresses appeared at every corner. Then I lost some money. Dejected, we stopped for lunch at Fuddruckers – nothing like the world’s best, and largest cheeseburger and a do-it-yourself fixin’s bar to compensate for lost cash. Then I lost more money, went to the ATM, lost some more, pouted for a bit and then decided I needed sugar and licked a sympathy Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Coffee Buzz Buzz ice cream cone as we rode back.

more-chipsI don’t like to lose. I know that slot machines are bad news; they are ultimately my gambling weakness, though I really should stick to what I know best and where my real talent lies…Texas Hold ‘Em! This was not available at the MGM Grand (had it been, I’m sure I would’ve come home several hundred dollars richer). I was feeling the need to redeem myself from my horrible loss. So, on the drive back, I quickly began plotting my comeback and decided I would invite a crew of friends over to my Brooklyn abode, wine and dine them, then take their money.

The plan was in motion and Kimberly agreed to co-host, a.k.a be the person who stays in the kitchen and keeps the food and drink coming all night long. She gracefully admitted to being more food, than poker, maven and bowed out of the game. She opted instead to hand squeeze about four dozen limes and make her signature margaritas. I, personally, would have loved to see her at the table. Easy target.

About an hour before my poker party was about to commence, I decided I wanted to make my famous 7-layer bean dip – the perfect poker staple – and a little something extra for the big night. Not only was I hosting a game, I was hosting a party, and I always take great pride in my snack selection.

kbelle-margaritaBy 6pm on this particularly hot Sunday evening, about a dozen friends and fellow gambling addicts congregated in my living room, which had been turned into a fully functioning poker parlor, complete with multiple tables, card decks and hundreds of brightly colored chips. Before we sat down to play, I went to retrieve my delish bean dip from the fridge, only to notice a very similar bean dip already sitting out on my designated snack table. Huh. It wasn’t my dip. It did look good and appeared in many ways to be different from mine, but the fact remained that there were now two separate bean dips, and this one had already been heartily dipped into. People were actually raving about it. Now…it was kind of Kimberly (obviously the maker of said competitive bean dip) to bring along some food to the party, but surely she should’ve checked in with me first to see what I was planning to offer in the way of snacks. I mean, come one, having two of the same type dips at a party is kind of like host suicide. Then again, I have a “Type A” personality.

Feeling a little competitive, I took every measure to display my dip with extra care and even made a special announcement that MY 7-layer dip, made from a long time family recipe and God’s true gift to the tortilla chip, was now ready to be eaten! But people didn’t budge. They were getting full, having already eaten an entire plate of the other bean dip and they knew I had six large pizzas on the way. Plus, we were about to start the tournament.

dip-picOn edge, I took a seat over by the window where I would have a clear view of my bean dip display and could monitor the competition between the two rival dips, should any player get the munchies in between hands. As we started to play, I noticed that my heart just wasn’t in the game. Not only was I getting horrible cards, but I couldn’t shake the bean dip situation, as silly as it may seem. Hand after hand, my stack of poker chips dwindled, though not my poor dip. After 3 hours of pathetic play, and one too many bad bluffs, I had lost all my money and my seat at the table, not to mention by bean dip pride.

In my haste to win everyone’s money, I forgot how much I enjoy winning everyone’s taste buds. Perhaps even more so. Maybe I’m a different type gambler after all. And I’m willing to make a bet that if you actually tasted the two side by side, my bean dip would be the ace…

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