A friendly game?


A few weeks ago, two of my tennis buddies and I were chewing the fat over this and that, as we do most days after playing.  By some random occurence, the conversatin shifted to poker, of which all three of us had some previous experience, with one of the three being part of a current game as well as some lightweight playing at the local casinos from time to time.

One of the guys talked about his old times playing with a group of people, mainly stud poker but with an occasional “crazy” game like Guts (a nasty game indeed, especially for the losers, since it’s often played as a “match pot” game, where the loser(s) have to match the pot they did not win and then play continues).

I mentioned my playing experience had been more along the bizarre games, including many wild cards games (baseball, Submarine (low hole Chicago), follow the queen, etc.) and harsh match pot betting games (such as Guts and Blade).  Several of these games offered “low” hands (Ace, 2, 3, 4, 6 being perfect) and “high”, with the person required to “declare” before the final card was turned.

My friend with the current game going played a classic seven-card high/low game with no wild cards and no delcare.  That is, the cards determined whether you were high or low (or both) and the “perfect” low was Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 (which is also a straight and could win both ways).

After some more discussion, he asked if I wanted to join in his twice-weekly game.  Having no other pressing nightly commitments and having enjoyed poker games in the past, I agreed to try it out.

The group of guys there are the definition of Grumpy Old Men.  Or crotchety.  Or cantankerous.  By whatever adjective, these seniors (not a one below 70) had a long-standing card playing “history” with each other, replete with built-up resentments and annoyances.

I found the interchanges fascinating and entertaining.  The “host” of the games noticed my bemusement and mentioned there would be an additional charge for that.  Considering how often I lost to these “old codgers” in the first few weeks of playing, I think that charge has been paid in full.

It’s extraordinary to watch these men, all of whom have “paid their dues” and are now able to choose their recreational time and subject, sit at the round poker table and snipe at each other; frustrate each other; get alternately amused and angered and then come back two days later and do it all again.

Of course, as the newbie (and young whippersnapper), I have been on best behavior; polite and respectful.  Trust me, considering the sharpness of the commentary, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of any of those cuts.

Last time out was my first winning night, by a margin large enough to offset almost all of my previous losses.  Frankly, I have to say I was mostly unlucky in the cards previously.  Most of my money was lost getting “nibbled” to death by the antes (these guys play for three hours and push as many hands through that time period as possible – woe to the player who has to think about his bet).  However, at least part of those losses were due to my trying to get my head around the high/low game they played (and feeling out the way these men played their cards).

I look forward to see if their attitudes change towards me.  A couple of the gentlemen were probably pleased by my deferential air and, lulled by my constant losing, were more apt to “hope” I got a good hand.  Now that I got more than one, we’ll see how they treat me tonight.

Perhaps tonight’s game won’t be quite so friendly?

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