In The Cincinnati Kid, Steve McQueen embodied the spirit of card-hustling cool. The Tao of Steve must be practiced and refined in neighborhood games and online scenarios before unleashing it on your unsuspecting opponents. For a year now, you've been studious: watching countless hours of televised poker, attending monthly tournaments at the Ameristar Casino, reading Doyle Brunson and wearing out your copy of Rounders. Now it's time to reap the benefits of your tireless efforts. The search for the city's best poker player is on. Last year's Budweiser/MDA Poker Classic attracted more than 800 players and raised $24,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Dennis Simon won the braggin' rights as St. Louis' best poker player. Can you wrest his title away?
The first of two preliminary rounds takes place at the Orlando Gardens Banquet Center (2050 Dorsett Village Road) on Wednesday, August 18. The second round is Tuesday, August 24, at the Holiday Inn Southwest/Viking Conference Center (Watson Road and Lindbergh Boulevard). Registration for both events starts at 5:30 p.m. with 7-Card Stud beginning at 7 p.m., and the finals are Wednesday, August 25, at the Holiday Inn. Players older than eighteen are welcome with a suggested donation of $30 for one prelim or $50 for both (or $175 for a table of seven). Call 314-962-0023 for info. -- Jedidiah Ayres
Missouri's Gone Wild
Jim Rathert has the photos
You love Missouri. So does Jim Rathert, the man who's been the nature photographer for Missouri Conservationist magazine for the past twenty years. And now Rathert has published a much-anticipated book of his greatest works. Jim Rathert: In Focus features a host of bold, beautiful Missouri flora and fauna, as well as facts about Missouri's natural splendor. Rathert signs copies of his book at 2 p.m. at the Florissant Barnes & Noble (13995 New Halls Ferry Road; 314-830-3596), where he may divulge some nature-photography secrets and dispense sage advice to aspiring photographers and friends of the forest. -- Christine Whitney
Fairmount Park's big day
Nothing feels better than thinking you're getting away with something. Take, for instance, horse hooky: Fairmount Park's (9301 Collinsville Road; 618-345-4300) weekly Tuesday-afternoon card of thoroughbred races. Even if one isn't a savvy pari-mutuel player, he or she can still place a $2 show bet on the horse with the most creative name and pound 75-cent tube steaks and $1.50 brews until the colts head for home, all while willfully missing an honest day's work. But unlike most boss-authorized afternoons of hooky, at Fairmount you can actually double or triple the wages you would've made in front of a computer terminal or slaving away beneath the hood of someone else's Camaro.
At 1 p.m. this simple pleasure merges with the scrappy Collinsville track's finest annual day of horse racing. Illinois Day, as it's dubbed, features six $35,000 stakes races bound to attract classy horseflesh from throughout the Midwest and bluegrass regions. An opportunity like this comes along only once a year. Seize it. -- Mike Seely
Walk (or Roll) of Fame
Melanie Moon (pictured) and Garry Seith, once-rumored dance-floor grinders and current WB affiliate KPLR-TV (Channel 11) newscasters, are a breath of fresh air on the somewhat aging St. Louis media scene. Their community service is refreshing too: Both are honorary chairs of Making Tracks for Abilities Awareness, the St. Louis Society for the Physically Disabled's one-to-six-mile walk/ wheelchair roll at Clayton's Shaw Park (Brentwood and Forsyth boulevards). The event's $10, and registration's at 8 a.m.; call the society at 314-989-1188 for more info. -- Alison Sieloff