Dealt a Bad Hand
By the time I was ten, I was an expert player of Texas Hold’em, Blackjack, and Pai Gow. “Read ‘em and weep, boys,”
I said to my stuffed animals as I threw my chips in the air. I learned early, that in poker, you are dealt cards that are not
of your choosing. Sometimes fate is on your side and other times, your chances of winning are slim to none. My life has
been dealt one bad hand after another, but I refuse to fold.
On “Take Your Daughter to Work Day,” my father took me to the casino where he worked as a card dealer, wisps of
cigarette smoke swirling about, fluorescent lights covering nearly every inch of the ceiling. The card tables bustled with
people that reeked of human desperation and screamed gambling problems. Watching people lose their money, I
never understood how much your life could change with just one bad hand until my family faced the repercussions of
my father’s gambling addiction.
It started small; online poker games in the late hours of the night and poker chips stuck in the crevices of the couch.
The problem only became clear to me when I would wake up to my mother sleeping on the couch, waiting for him to
come home from the casino. As his addiction grew, so did the distance between us. There was no more “How was your
day at school?” No more goodbye kisses before work. All hope that it would pass diminished when I came home from
school to my mother, her freckled cheeks stained with tears. I have only seen my mother cry once and this was it.
“What’s wrong?” I frantically asked, even though deep down I knew.
My father had lost everything – every dollar, every cent saved for over twenty years -- gone. Unable to meet my
mother’s gaze, I looked down at her hands. The hands are said to show the first signs of aging, and her calloused,
arthritic hands told me that the clock was ticking. Each line on my mother’s hands was like a road map of her life,
each crack representing the trials she has faced. I saw a 14-year-old girl in Vietnam worked to the bone in a supermarket
to earn money for her family. I saw a 20-year-old mother sacrificing everything to build a better life in America. Now,
I see a 57-year-old woman who has gone back to work to support her family. Someday, I hope to see her sitting on the
porch of the house that she deserves, and by working hard and furthering my education, I can keep her dream alive.
I watched my father gamble away our family’s future. I watched my mother’s dreams be put on hold. I watched and
could do nothing. Now, I have the chance to repay my mother for all she has given me through what I hope to
accomplish and who I will become. I’m in the final stride of my pursuit of her dream, and now, more than ever, I am
determined to prevail over all obstacles and endure failure so that someday becomes today. (15)
Adapted with permission from a high school student essay by T. T., San Jose, CA, 2014.
Created for Albert.io. September 2014
Suppose the writer's primary purpose had been to write an essay discussing the moral and ethical consequences of gambling, and its effects on family life.
Would this essay successfully accomplish this goal?