Over the years there have been many stories told about high-stakes three card brag games, many featuring prolific sportsmen so when I heard that the Wales rugby team were banned from playing three card brag back in 1999 I was intrigued.
It was on the tour of Argentina in ’99 in a temperamental tour bus on a hot and dusty country road in South America where we begin our story. The team, which featured players such as Neil Jenkins, Shane Howarth and Colin Charvis, were travelling across a hot and arid Argentina on a bus that found the heat and dust too much of a strain and therefore spent much time parked up cooling down. It was on this laborious journey that a game of three card brag is alleged to have gotten out of hand.
According to Allan Bateman’s autobiography ‘some’ players passed the time by playing games of three card brag for relatively low stakes that soon escalated. This tense game of three card brag hand gone from being a way to pass the time while they were stranded in no man’s land to a serious game which was certain to wipe out a few players. This it did.
This particular game of three card brag had got to the stage where top sportsmen no longer had enough cash on them to see bets and IOU’s were introduced. There were thousands and thousands of pounds passing hands on the back of a rickety bus. However, team coach Graham Henry eventually found out about the sums of cash involved in the game and quickly put a stop to the brag action.
Unfortunately the names of the players who made a killing and the names of the players writing IOU’s at the end of this particular high-stakes game of three card brag were not disclosed in Bateman’s book and perhaps that’s for the best seeing as some of them would have to explain to their Mrs’ how they ended up losing more than their tour fees playing a game of brag on a bus.