I usually win at Mormon Poker. I have a “Royal Flush” when I come to the table.
Mormon Poker is a game Mormons play when they meet a stranger who is also a Mormon. They begin sharing background almost immediately. At first, the initial ranking must begin. You have more “currency” when playing Mormon poker if you:
- Live in Utah
- If you don’t live in Utah, you get a few points (but not as many) if you live in Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, or California, in that order.
- If you live in any historic Mormon town, you get “honorable mention” points and a place of reverence, as though you might be among the General Authorities themselves. (The General Authorities are the men who run the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints… the Mormons.)
- Then you compare last names. If you have a “famous” last name, that is, if you have the same last name as a General Authority, you get more points. If it’s an “old world” last name in the church, you are immediately given even more “status.”
Then the Poker begins… Everyone starts laying their ancestors out on the table, like cards, to see who has a bigger hand. Anyone who has an ancestor who was either one of the church presidents or among the modern-day “twelve apostles” of the church, has suit cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks.) If you have ancestors who are merely famous within the church for having written best-selling Mormon books, or done something noteworthy that all Mormons know about, you have higher value face cards.
That’s how you play Mormon Poker.
I usually win.
I have a third-great-grandfather who was one of the original twelve apostles, appointed by Joseph Smith over 150 years ago. He crossed the plains on the Mormon Trail with his family.
His son, my second-great-grandfather was also a member of the twelve apostles, but not the original twelve. He was, in fact, Senior member of the twelve and would have become the president of the church if he hadn’t died 18 months before the president did.
I have more than 40 ancestors who crossed the plains with the Mormon Trail, and who have towns named after them. My family settled in Salt Lake City, and settled many of the towns in Southern Utah.
My grandfather was a Civil Engineer and built the college and the Mormon temple in New Zealand. He and his father are the original surveyors of the entire state of Utah. They surveyed Utah from a covered wagon and on horseback. My mother owns the survey transom they used.
Oh… and I lived in Nauvoo, Illinois for 13 years, and I’ve known a few General Authorities.
I have a pretty good “hand” when it comes to Mormon Poker.
So you understand how “indoctrinated” into the Mormon faith I was.