WENDOVER — Bill Davis and his buddies were only 43 miles from ground zero when the 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck eastern Nevada early Thursday morning.

But that didn't stop them from continuing to do what they were doing.

"We just kept playing cards," said Bill.

Davis and the aforementioned pals had left the Ogden area Wednesday night and made their way to the Wendover Nugget Hotel & Casino just across the Utah-Nevada border in West Wendover, there to join the perpetual Texas Hold 'Em poker game in the poker room.

They started playing just before midnight, Utah time, and were still at it at 7:16:05 a.m. when, as Davis describes, "It felt like a really big semi was rolling by outside ... but it kept on rolling."

After 10 to 15 seconds, the rumbling finally stopped.

"We looked around and said, 'Guys, that was an earthquake," said Davis. "Then we really did just keep playing cards. What else could we do?"

Life is nothing if not a big gamble.

Shortly thereafter, a few guys' cell phones went off around the table, from concerned wives, girlfriends and assorted family members who knew of the poker players' whereabouts.

"Some early news reports said it (the quake) was centered closer to Wendover," said Davis. "One guy got a call from his girlfriend, she was crying. She wanted to know if he was all right."

Well, other than a run of bad cards ...

Davis said that despite the unmistakable shaking of the Earth, and several aftershocks of diminishing magnitude, he didn't see anyone panic or, for that matter, even suspend their attempts at trying to beat the house.

"Nobody in the whole casino jumped or screamed," he said. "It was really calm."

Calm wasn't exactly the case across the border in Wendover, Utah, at Darlene Trammell's house.

Darlene is the Wendover city treasurer, and she was up and getting ready for work when she walked into the kitchen just as the house started shaking.

Her 8-year-old grandson, Uriah, who had spent the night, was watching cartoons before school.

"He said, 'We're having a tornado!'" remembered Darlene, "and under the kitchen table he went."

Apparently, Uriah had learned about tornados just last week in school.

And even if he hadn't identified the disaster correctly, he did the right thing by diving for cover.

Meanwhile, over at Tammera Weyland's house, Tammera, who is the Wendover city clerk and works with Darlene at the city offices, was wondering why Mandy was running around the house like a crazy person.

Mandy is Weyland's chocolate Labrador.

"From about 6:30 on she was freaking out," said Tammera. "That was sort of unusual, but then again she freaks out quite a bit so I didn't think anything about it."

At least not until the earthquake hit.

"I guess it's true that animals can sense that it's coming," she said.

In sharp contrast to someone looking for just one more ace.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to [email protected] and faxes to 801-237-2527.