Off The Press

March 5, 2013

By David Hayes

It’s a milestone poker party for River Bil

Milestones. There are many ways to observe and celebrate them. At the Elks Lodge, among the poker crowd, we host a tournament.

The milestone in question is a celebration of longtime member Bill Weimer’s 80th birthday. Or, as we affectionately call him, River Bill. More about that in a minute.

Weimer remains the only old-timer who still plays at the Elks what is called the easiest card game to learn, yet the hardest to master, Texas Hold Em. It was from another old-timer, Dallas Cross, who recently moved to Idaho, that Weimer received his moniker, River Bill.

David Hayes Press reporter

David Hayes
Press reporter

The nickname was earned for Bill’s propensity to chase the card he needs, regardless of the odds, all the way to the river. For example, the odds of getting a straight or flush by the river hovers at about 30 percent. That’s a 70 percent failure rate that does not detour River Bill. Not a player in the Elks card room has avoided River Bill’s seemingly miraculous efforts to defy the odds and hit his two-outer.

Other than the nickname, what do we really know about River Bill?

Few probably realize he’s celebrating a second milestone this year — his 25th anniversary as an Elks member here in Issaquah. Weimer said he was invited in 1987 to join the regular poker game at the old Elks lodge by Skip Zimmerman, a former bartender at the former restaurant Fasanos. As with many current members, myself included, once they get you in for the poker, they’ve got ya as a member.

“Jack Baker talked me into becoming a member in 1988,” Weimer recalled.

Jack has since moved to the warmer climes of Southern California, but that’s OK — Weimer still gets to play against Jack’s son Scott.

Also, many of the poker players know Weimer dotes on his granddaughter and great-granddaughter, who regularly visit or call during games, and which he shares a household with.

Few probably know he’s also got two boys who work on the Alaskan pipeline or that he has eight grandkids and another two great-grandkids. His first wife passed away in 1986 and he calls his second marriage “the worst mistake of my life.”

We also know that until recently, Weimer worked in the courier service for Postal Express. Few realize his résumé goes back 22 years in the courier service. Fewer still know of his 12 years as a manager at the Bellevue Winchell’s (long since torn down and replaced by a city park).

We have at The Press an annual section honoring vets, past and present. Weimer has never been included. The oversight will be remedied this year; he’ll be added to the section to honor his 22 ½ years service in the Air Force. In the card room, we joke about the days Bill spent in the bush, back in ‘Nam. Little did I know, he really did serve a year in Saigon as a flight engineer flying EC47s, the top secret “electric goon” that flew over enemy lines, pinpointing their positions to send back to command ground control.

You don’t have to be an Elks member to come on down and join the fun, honoring and learning more about River Bill. He’s humbled that other players, regardless of his playing style, think so highly of him.

“It’s real nice, this tournament,” Weimer said. “For all the other poker players tied up in this, it makes me feel pretty good that they’d do that for me.”

However, keep in mind, good feelings end at the river when River Bill plays.


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