Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Odd card protector, with an odd story

I'm always curious about the objects people use as card protectors. Today at the Orleans I was sitting next to a older gentleman who had a doozy.

It caught my eye first because it was so big. You can't tell scale here (I should have included a poker chip for reference), but it's about three inches across and an inch thick. It's a gold-colored medal in Lucite. Yeah, I know--the gold color doesn't show up, either. Crummy camera in the hands of a crummy photographer.

The writing around the edge was quite difficult to read. It took me a while to put it together. The medal commemorates the 1967 capture of East Jerusalem (and subsequent reunification of the city). That's Yitzhak Rabin and Moshe Dayan in profile.

Without too much difficulty, I found a small (23 mm) gold medal of the same design online, here. But this one is bigger. There's a bronze version that's 59 mm in diameter (I found one sold recently on eBay here), and it seems likely that's what this is, except that somebody took the added steps of, apparently, electroplating the bronze with gold and embedding it in Lucite.

The oddest thing about this was that the coin's owner had no idea what it was. After I had been looking at it for a minute or two, he asked me if I knew what it was. I told him what I had been able to glean from it. I was embarrassed that I knew very little about that piece of history, and I thought I was going to get a lesson about it, or maybe a lecture about the heroism of the Israeli military forces, or something like that. (I'll admit that I was surprised to see what the subject of the medal was, because unless I'm severely mistaken, this guy was not Jewish.)

Turns out, he had no idea who was portrayed on it. He had noticed that there was some foreign writing, but didn't even know what language it was. (I told him it was Hebrew.) He told me that he had come to Vegas but left his usual card caps at home, so just "picked this one up somewhere." Why this particular thing? Just because it was big and heavy, which is how he likes his card protectors.

I tend to assume that the objects people use for this function are embued with some sort of meaning to them, unless they're clearly whimisical or commercial. There's another assumption shot down. It seems that people can have possessions with no meaning to them, just the way that they can make bets that have no relationship to the size of the pot, the strength of their hand, or anything else that most of us use for making poker decisions. We naturally assume that our fellow players have logical reasons for choosing to do the things that they do, but sometimes there just aren't any, and our efforts to understand them are utterly in vain.

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