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The Arganese Nicaraguan Robusto was my first-ever Arganese, and I couldn’t think of a better introduction. I was playing in a low-stakes poker tournament — a send-off party for a friend of a friend that was shipping out with the Marines. I found myself short-stacked early in the game and decided if I wanted to enjoy my cigar at the table, I’d better light it up now!
A perfectly-balanced burst of black pepper greeted me as I went all-in with pocket dueces pre-flop, only to be called in two spots. Man, was I glad to have that cigar in my mouth or I would have been biting my nails. I took a long draw and found slight hints of coffee and cocoa amidst the rich tobacco flavor. I kind of expected a straightforward smoke but definitely got more complexity than I bargained for. Speaking of getting more than I bargained for, my deuces miraculously held up when no one connected with any of the community cards, and I got a much-needed triple-up.
Now I was even happier to have the cigar, finally having a chance to sit back and relax, watching other players bust out. The pepper spice smoothly faded into the background as I got past the first third. The cigar was getting creamier, the smoke more copious. It was pairing very well with the Brooklyn Lager I was enjoying, each drawing out nutty notes in the other. I had made a generous cut with my Xikar MTX Scissors and the draw was effortless throughout. For a medium- to full-bodied cigar I was blown away by the smooth, balanced flavor profile and never felt overwhelmed by tobacco. Instead, the cigar held the same kind of richness you’d want in a cappuccino or triple-chocolate cake — flavor that pushes you to the edge but never pushes you over.
Speaking of pushing, it was time to shove all-in again. Even though I had my opponent covered, I was a little nervous to flip up my top two pair, worried about a set. But he flipped a worse two pair as I raked in the chips as we took a break before sitting down at the final table.
The victory puff snapped my mind back to the cigar as I tapped off a thick greyish-white double-tater tot of ash. The cigar was now developing a more robust, woodier core, bringing notes of cedar, oak and rich tobacco to the foreground with spice still dancing on the palate.
When play resumed, both the cigar and I continued to draw well, with my Ace-King dominating Ace-Nine for another double-up. Now approaching the final third, the Arganese was smoking noticeably hotter and I had to give a little more space between puffs. I too, was now in the final third — short-stacked but in the money with three players left in the tournament.
Unfortunately, the story ends just like the cigar. After thoroughly enjoying the Arganese’s draw, construction and most importantly, overall taste and character, it was now running a little too hot to enjoy. My poker luck was running out as well, and a last-ditch Queen-Nine suited shove was no match for Ace-Six when the board blanked out. I tried to take a few more puffs of the cigar but all I could taste was defeat.
Still, it was a fantastic time. The Marine actually won the tournament, and a good friend came in second. The cigar was great too, even if the finish was a little disappointing. In the aftermath, I take the poker player’s mentality — if you lose it’s bad luck, if you win it was all skill. This was a skillfully made smoke that couldn’t quite make it to the top but came respectably close.