Once a month on a Thursday night, my wife gets together with three friends for board games, snacks and wine.
Somehow the idea of playing poker – or, rather, learning to play poker – came up and I was drafted as the one to teach them how.
Poker? On a weeknight? With Lori and three wonderful ladies I’ve known from years of bowling together?
Damn right I said yes.
And so it was that Ellie, Beth and Erin – all members of our former Broken Taco Shells team – came over last night for some cards and trash talk.
It was totally fun. But I do have to say there are some differences from playing with my regular poker buddies.
No. 1, the food. We typically go through a couple of pizzas, assorted munchies (some not so good for you) and a fair quantity of beer. Last night, we had a pre-game meal of homemade chicken pot pie, roasted butternut squash casserole and spinach salad with pecans, followed by some chocolate cake left over from my birthday.
No. 2, the décor. Guys don’t play with a small vase of roses in the middle of the table. Those had to go. We also normally don’t have valentine hearts hanging in the windows. Those stayed. (Lori likes to decorate early for holidays.)
No. 3, the hours. We normally play until midnight, and sometimes an hour or two beyond if Lori is out of town. Last night’s game broke up a little after 9.
Learning the hierarchy of hands was made easier with a palm-sized cheat sheet. Learning the principles of smart betting sank in as pots were won and lost, with real money at stake. Real money as in $5 worth of chips each. Big-time stakes.
We started with 5-card draw, progressed to 5-card stud, 7-card stud – with and without wild cards and split pots (depending on your high or low spade, face down) – and wrapped it up with lowball, an easy-to-grasp 3-card game.
Early on, I found myself reminding them of these key points:
— Pay attention to how many cards your opponents discard.
— You need four cards, not five, to make a straight or flush.
— And most important… don’t squeal when you get a good hand.
The ladies were quick learners. Erin was the big winner; I was the big loser.
Next time? I’ll teach ‘em Anaconda. They won’t have a chance.