This is what i had traveled thousands of miles for, halfway around the world, braving rough waters and skies, American fast food, 65 mile per hour highways — a high stakes (at that point of my trip to the USA, even $1 was high stakes!) poker game and some of the best cigars in the world.

Mr Opus X, Mr Padron 1926 and Mr Fuente Anejo awaited to assault my taste buds. Andrew, Thomas, Kenny, Bob, Bob, and another Bob, and others awaited to assault my wallet. I was not to be disappointed on either count! What a night it was!

A lot has to be said about the cigar lounge where the evening’s festivities were held. Just like the famous club we have in Kuala Lumpur, its named the Havana Club.

Built from scratch from the ground up, every part of the club was made with a cigar lounge in mind. The hard wood flooring, the spacious full cedar walk in humidor, the super efficient $20,000 ventilation system, the pool table, the strategically placed asthrays, the many high stools and leather chairs, the impressive members’ personal humidor cupboards — these are the cosmetic facades that complete it as a divan.

Poker night is every Wednesday and Friday night at the Havana Club. A good sized room at the back of the members’ only 2nd floor was were the games took place. I was well into my first cigar of the night, a Arturo Fuente Anejo #49 churchill, before a spot opened up at the table for me. Let the games begin!

By the time i was about to light up my second cigar of the night, an Opus X “XXX” (aka “Power Ranger”), i knew that i was not going to be winning any money at the tables that night, but at least the cigars, all courtesy of the very generous Andrew, were fantastic.

While the Anejo #49 was a masterpiece of aroma and flavour (the maduro wrapper was absolutely dripping with oils; i’ve never seen a wrapper so rich before, ever!), the “XXX” was proving worthy of its name — by the time it was half done, the nicotine punch had me literally doubled over! The world was spinning around pleasantly, my heartbeat was up to 150, at least (who needs exercise??), and i was sweating like a pig eventhough the temperature was a cool 70 degrees Fahreinheit.

The XXX is an incredible cigar, among the very best i’ve ever had. It excels in all areas: superb aroma, full bodied, spicy flavour with a robust hint of cedar, citrus and fruit. The draw is wonderfully firm; just right! And, that nicotine punch! It must be felt to be truly appreciated! The first cigar to truly put me under the table. And, funny as it may sounds, that’s a good thing.

After some bad experiences with previous Opus’, this cigar has returned my faith in this brand. With Opus X, you most certainly get what you pay for!

The final cigar of the night came when i was already down $80 bucks at the poker table. The XXX was supposed to be followed by a Padron 1926, but i figured my taste buds and system were already fried like never before after the XXX, so it would be a shame to indulge in a cigar i would hardly be able to taste. So came the Graycliff double maduro churchill instead. Produced in limited quantities, this cigar was a delight — smooth, creamy coffee taste accentuated by the most pleasing aroma you could ever ask for from a cigar. I’m sure this cigar is much better than i could give it credit, but the XXX had “cleansed my palate” alright… it was so clean, it was almost sterile! Hardly any taste sensation was left! 🙂

As the final cigar of the night burned out and the last hands were dealt, i couldn’t help but feel extremely satisfied with the experience. It wasn’t just the cigars or the poker, but it was mainly the company i kept that evening. The jovial backslapping, the (sometimes) senseless jokes, the name-calling, the curses and, finally, the handshakes of friendship as the evening ended, were the masterstroke to a masterful evening in the Havana Club.