Poker Night

Except for D–, we are all now married dudes and fathers — those of us that are dudes at all, anyway — and as a result we live kinda boring lives with little flexibility. Our wives, of course, have the same problem (with considerably more of their time tied up by the children, nonetheless), but they’re smart enough to schedule events from time to get them out of the house. T–, for instance, organizes a monthly scrapbooking party at the church that runs from six to midnight.

A couple weeks ago D– floated the idea that we should do something similar, for the dudes, since our old method was no longer really practicable (that is to say, one of us spontaneously deciding on a random Friday night to go to some bar and drink way too much, and then using coercion and peer pressure to get everyone else together). He proposed we do a poker night, of the cliche sort seen so often on TV and film. With fear and trembling we approached the various wives about the idea, and they all responded with enthusiastic support. Who knew?

So we did our first one Saturday night. My sister, easily the most enthusiastic of the wives, willingly offered up her house as a meeting place, and then she and her husband spent the afternoon at Wal-Mart (racking up quite a bill in the process) getting stuff together for our little party. Among other things, they bought a nice new poker table (felt top, raised border with inset cupholders). It’s got room for ten, but could probably comfortably seat about six.

Then they spent a while setting up. When D– and I showed up a little after six, my sister had all manner of snacks ready in the kitchen, including little smokies, some veggies and dip, chips and salsa, and brownies. I also brought over some Chex Mix, and some liquor to complement the soda they had chilling in the fridge.

My sister packed up her kids and took them over to my house for the evening, and K– showed up at 6:30. We chatted for a bit and watched some of the NFL draft while K– read up on the rules for Texas Hold’em that came with the poker set I’d brought over. My set only has 100 chips, which makes for a relatively small piles when it’s divided four ways, and K– predicted (quite accurately) that it would make for a pretty short game. We played through according to those rules, and it took about an hour and a half. Maybe a little less. I won, but that’s neither here nor there.

After that we ate some pizza and my brother-in-law went in search of more chips, which essentially tripled the number we had and let us play a more nuanced game. We started another round, but K– had to cash out at 10:00 because he had early-morning commitments on Sunday.

That left D– and my brother-in-law, and the three of us played for nearly two hours before D– lost out. Then Jeff and I spent another hour battling back and forth before the game finally ended. I won, but that’s neither here nor there.

I think we’d all seen some Texas Hold’em on TV — I know T– and I watched all the Celebrity Poker Showdowns back when that show was on — but none of us had really played and there were aspects of the game that didn’t make sense to me until we started working through it. By the end of the night, we all four had a pretty good grasp on it. K– and I were the only ones who really fully got the betting rules, but we were also the ones trying to figure it out. The other two just went with it and focused more on their hands.

We all agreed it was a great time. B– and Toby both expressed interest in future Poker Nights, but neither was able to make it to this one. To be fair, they only got one day’s warning, so that’s more my fault than theirs.

Given that we are all of us gamers, it’s unlikely we’ll ultimately limit ourselves to just poker, but Poker Night sounds a lot more impressive than Tabletop Gaming Night, so we’re going to stick with the little white lie. We’ve discussed playing Magic (D– and my brother-in-law both have as much experience with that as I do, and the other three are all interested in it), Risk, and a…umm…strategic terrain-based combat simulation D– owns called HeroScape. But we’re calling it Poker Night.

I’m already really looking forward to the next one.