With so many ways to play poker, between the (OMG illegal!!!) internet, underground cardrooms and casinos (for you lucky bastards that don't live in the Carolinas), why do we bother getting together once a week for two years to beat our friends brains out over the felt?
For the love of the game? Partly. For the money? Not really, but it gives a good way to keep score. For a way to kick back after work for those of us who aren't interested in bars anymore? Mostly.
I've hosted a home game for nigh on two years now. It started out pretty sporadic, but for at least the last year, we've played almost every week. We've had a rotating cast of characters, with some that will drop in now and again, some that will be regular for a while and then move to California to have sex on a more regular basis, and some that just keep coming back, time after time.
Last night we held a special game for Tripjax, cause he was stuck working in Charlotte all week. Well, when one of my boys is gonna be in town, we're either gonna get drunk (like me, Blood, Easycure and our respective better halves did over Christmas, and like the legendary-at-least-in-my-house bender that me & Daddy went on when he came to town) or we're gonna play some cards, bitches! It was a typical donkfest, with me only looking at my cards on every other hand, Warbucks thinking that K-high was good enough to call my blind bet with (he was right) and the straddle in play at least once per orbit.
I took an early lead in the battle to Stack Mountain, mostly by just hammering out raises, getting my isolation on, and pushing either Trip or Suzy off the better hand. That didn't last long and eventually I had to look at my cards once or twice. I played fairly well, and was a bit of a card rack, catching at some point in the night every premium starting hand and losing only with my Aces. I woulda played them better had I looked at my hand preflop, but I didn't, and misplayed them, and gave Jim a good $50 on that hand. Oh well, I took it back from Nate with a suck-resuck when my top pair on the flop fell behind his top pair on the turn but caught my kicker on the river to stack him. And that's how it goes in a home game. Here's a good example of what you get when you play the same people for two years.
I'm in middle position with A5o. I limp, Jim raises from the button to about $3. It's $.25/.50 blinds, by the way. Nate calls, I call. I'm pretty sure I'm behind Jim, but could easily be ahead of Nate here. Flop comes textbook-perfect, let's see how I can fuck this up beautiful - 234 rainbow.
Nate checks, I check, Jim fucks up my plan by checking behind. This confirms my initial read of Ace and a face, as he bets if he's got any little piece of that here. Turn brings the worst card in the deck for me, the 5.
Yup, I got the perfect flop and got no money in, so now everyone in the world has caught up with me, and I've slowplayed myself into a 3-way chop, which is worse than kissing your sister, more like kissing your ugly aunt Ethel. Nate leads out with a good-sized bet, and I look down, think that there's only one way to get any profit in this hand, and that's to steal half of Jim's initial bet.
"All In." I say. I have both of them covered by a lot, so I've certainly applied the pressure I intended. Jim thinks for a long time, decides I either have a 6 or big brass cojones, flashes an Ace and folds. Nate calls, because of course Nate calls. I look down, ask him "do you have a 6?"
"Then pull it back, cause we chop." He shows A3, I show A5, Jim mutters something that sounds suspiciously like "good bet, asshole," chuckles, and I grab my half of the pot.
Tripjax looks over at me and says "I don't have that move in my game," and I respond that I knew exactly where I was, because I've been playing with these same guys almost every week for better than a year. And that's what you get in a home game. Most of the time it feels like we're pushing the same $50 back and forth between us, but it's a good time, and occassionally you get some really good moves, like the two times Jax pushed me off a better hand last night by going over the top of me all-in when I held small pocket pairs.
My wife, however, was playing the role of the card rack, taking a 3 buy-in profit off the table, largely on the skill of hitting a set of Aces twice and trip Aces two more times. See, poker's easy, just wait for Aces, get paid off, make more money!
The monthly theatre goof tournament is this Sunday, hopefully I'll be able to make it past the first table for the first time in three months.
Oh, and on an unrelated note, more volumes of Transmetropolitan came in, and I'm very convinced that Warren Ellis has spent some time drinking with Pauly to create the Spider Jerusalem character. Very convinced.
Now if you've read this far, you've found the subliminal message that says - go to the banner and donate money to Shakespeare Carolina. All the Cool Kids are doing it!