Now, a responsible GP with the weight of Fareham's healthcare on my shoulders, I'm still playing cards. I am a weak man. I am. But I'm not alone.
My gambling is restricted to a card school, made up mostly of other GPs, and we only play once every six weeks or so. We play three-card brag, five-card stud poker and Texas hold 'em.
Over the years we've been banned from playing cards at our houses. We now play in the common room at the surgery (out of hours, of course) and we've even made our own table and green tablecloth. We have bought a lovely set of poker chips which add an air of authenticity to each occasion.
We have such a fun time, laughing and chatting and eating all the things we tell our patients not to (pies and Jaffa Cakes). The drinks flow, we tell jokes, we play some cards. And it never gets serious.
The maths is a bit odd, as everyone is either 'a few quid up' or 'about even', but the best bit is, the 'house' doesn't take its cut.
I strongly recommend it, not just for the boys. Playing cards gives you an insight into the subtleties of human interactions and body language, as you carefully watch for your opponent's little mannerisms that might give away the secret of their hand. Either that or they really are simply picking their nose.
EFFORT AND OUTCOME
Staff involved: a handful of GPs, one out-of-hours driver.
Cost: booze and nibbles, £10 to cleaner on Monday morning.
Benefits: relaxation, entertainment, fun.