Monday, April 11, 2005

Cleaning Up

I'm not sure what the etiquette is with respect to taking your friends' money.

On Saturday night, I met up with some people for a friendly game of poker. I had met them through a Craigslist posting which explicitly asked for "normal, sane people." (Contrary to what others may think, I consider myself one of those.) The idea was, apparently, that these people weren't seeking hard-core poker fanatics who expected huge sums of money to change hands or who were big-time hustlers. They were seeking low-key, low-pressure players.

There was a low buy-in of $20. Since that's more than I would have spent if I had spent a night out at the bar, it was a bargain night of entertainment.

All in all, the night is supposed to be for fun more than anything. But there's always that strange element that creeps into it because money is involved.

J. and R. have this elaborate system worked out. It's a little geeky, but it's pretty awesome at the same time, and also a bit ironic seeing as they had explicitly sought "normal" people. Basically, they've set up a system where, at the end of the night, they can tell you how much your $20 gained or lost -- to the penny -- so that you can take a payout (or wallow in how much of your $20 you lost). (The payouts usually round away the last digit or two. And usually no one makes a big deal about the pennies they lose to rounding.)

This Saturday, for a $20 buy-in, I walked away with $57.50. Not too shabby. (One girl at the table walked away with $0.43. She laughed about it a lot. She's a trip.)

There was, of course, the requisite joking that I would not be invited back for the next poker night. And the howls of how I was totally raking it in because I'd bet large amounts on crappy hands just because the other players clearly wouldn't be able to afford such large bets.

That's the strange Catch-22 of poker nights for money. There's always the delicate balancing act between winning because it's fun, winning because you get to take home money, and being careful not to win so much that you piss everyone else off. Including your hosts.


Will said...

as a regular player of "friendly" poker I understand the balance and how delicate it can be. Of course I've played with the same group for so long we no longer feel and regret about taking cash from one another. Maybe I need new friends.

kat said...

I have a weekly poker game with some really good friends - we also do a $20 buy in, but we play 2 $10 no-limit tournaments where the top three players get money and the other four get the shaft. It seems that I inevitably end up winning the first tournament, so I make a concerted effort to lose the second, because I'm just that good of a friend.

ericorbit said...

I never learned how to play poker. But I do play a mean Go Fish.

Dennis! said...

Will: I say you meet new people for poker and decide whether you like them or not. If you do, then you have new friends. If you don't, take them for all they have then don't bother to call about future games.

Kat: How very nice of you. I'm sure my competitive nature would kick in. But then if you're splitting $70 three ways, that's not a whole lot, so I guess losing on purpose is cool.

Eric: I didn't get into poker until they started televising the thing all over the tube. And I'm a dork that way. Question is, do you wear underwear while you play?.... hahaha.

katie said...

I always feel a tinge of guilt about winning. But I quickly get over it.

p.p. said...

I have no guilt. But this is immaterial b/c I never win.