Jai alai is not a game for wussies. It takes onions to play a game in which your competition launches a ball at you with deadly speed, on par with the bullet that killed Abe Lincoln. And all you have to defend yourself is a wicker basket. During a standard game, the rock-hard ball hits speeds of up to 180 mph, ricocheting against a wall before the opposing player must catch it and return it on the fly or first bounce. If he cannot, he loses the point and gets sent to the back of the rotation. Its a game fueled by speed and strength, with a dash of humiliation. And that players shameful dishonor can be your gain if you happen to bet against him. Cha-ching!
Jai alai has been endorsed by historys greatest bad-asses, including Ernest Hemingway, who once said it contained constant excitement and manly effort taken to the utmost limits. Paul Newman is also an aficionado, as is Gene Hackman. Buddy Hackett too, but were not counting him. Our local venue, Dania Jai-Alai (301 E. Dania Beach Blvd., Dania Beach), has a sports bar, an OTB betting facility, and a card room with no-limit Texas hold-em poker and tournaments. Games begin at noon and 7 p.m. If youre down to gamble, visit www.dania-jai-alai.com.
Starts: June 3. Daily, 2008