Maybe it makes me less of a man to admit this, but I have yet to be seduced by the world of poker. Sure I have friends who frequent Vegas – the casinos, the boats. I even had a buddy who drove seven hours to some remote Indian casino in Nevada, only to lose all of his money on a single hand of Blackjack. I could only imagine how lonesome his drive home was, especially since he had to hitchhike most of the way. Repeated calls to my phone for a ride went unanswered, and we’re no longer friends.

I guess my unease with the gambling phenomenon began a few years ago when I was dragged along to a casino for what was sure to be an “exciting” night. Now I’m not a Texas Hold ’Em expert by any means, but I do understand the basics. I paid the $40 buy-in fee and entered the tournament.

This particular night at the casino was like most, crowded with overweight degenerates all on a kick that their luck was about to change. Maybe I was a bit optimistic as well. But the moment was fleeting, and I lost. Apparently it was a bit too presumptuous of me to go all-in with a pair of twos.

The evening had turned into a complete bust, and I decided to walk around and take in the casino wildlife around me. It was then that I happened upon a crowd of lowlife gamblers circling around what appeared to me as one of their own. On closer inspection, I noticed that one man, attired in black sunglasses and a baseball cap, was none other than … I had no idea.

“Who is he?” I asked to a nearby degenerate.

“Phil Ivey,” he spouted back, as if it was blasphemous for me to even ask.

I still was unaware of exactly who Phil Ivey was but grew concerned when the woman next to me began convulsing. Her boyfriend almost had to slap her back into consciousness but restrained himself. After all, he was in the presence of Mr. Phil Ivey, poker player extraordinaire.

Now I was intrigued. Who was this mysterious Phil Ivey character and why was he causing a woman to convulse? A simple Internet search, and I had my answer.

Apparently, Phil Ivey is the best all around player in the world and is considered by many to be the Tiger Woods of poker. For someone of such small stature this seemed to be quite a feat, considering Ivey probably can’t drive a golf ball 350 yards onto the green. But who am I to judge?

Since that fateful day when we first rubbed shoulders, it seems as if Ivey’s image is permanently seared into my brain, now that he promotes the poker Web site Full Tilt. I have friends who will spend hours playing poker online, while simultaneously watching Ivey play poker on TV. It’s quite a commitment, to say the least.

Occasionally, they’ll sense my boredom and try to engage me with conventional poker lingo.

“Look! I was just dealt three of a kind on the flop,” one of them will boast.

“No thanks,” I’ll politely respond. “I’d rather gouge my eyes out with white hot spears.

Most of them do not take warmly to sarcasm.

Maybe there was a time in my life when I could have been swayed by the likes of Phil Ivey and online poker. But to be honest, I’d rather watch Tiger Woods. And I’m not even a golf fan.