posted by Joe Anaya on April 9th, 2012

There have been “home games” since the beginning of poker. Almost exclusively the poker games have been the dominion of men. Occasionally, a woman will come in and play, but mostly the girlfriends and wives stay at home and “let” their man go out and have some guy time. So, I’m going to give all you curious women (or men who haven’t had the luck to go to a home game), a sneak peek into what really goes on during poker night.

First we arrive. Usually we meet in someone’s garage, because it’s Southern California it’s plenty warm enough. Occasionally, we get to play inside if a bachelor is hosting or if a wife is exceptionally generous and comfortable with her dining room filled with guy-talk (you get a bunch of guys together and the language gets pretty f#$%ing salty). The host provides the majority of foods and drinks, but it’s always polite to bring something to share. I’m not a chef so I just put out various chips and dips, but some of the more metro-sexual guys get fancy and provide full meals. Some guys are more health conscious and provide vegetables and fruit, but that’s pretty rare, thank God. We usually catch up with the guys, talk about work, sports, whatever while waiting for the rest of the guys to show up. And as guys are prone to do, there’s a lot of smack talk going back and forth.

When enough guys get there, we sit down and argue about what music to play. “Who is better than U2 during the 90s? And don’t f*&%ing say Queensryche.” Some guys prefer classic rock, some guys current rock, nobody wants top 40 pop.

Most home games go Dealer’s Choice, that’s where the guy dealing gets to pick the game. After the dealer calls a game, we spend the next 5 minutes arguing over the details, limit or no-limit, max bet or no max, blinds, etc. If the dealer picks a less common game, we spend 15 minutes arguing over the exact rules: one down, one up, then a round of betting, low hand must be below an eight, inside over outside. God forbid, if someone at the table hasn’t played that game; he gets five guys yelling instructions on how to play while arguing with each other about how to play.

This goes on all night interspersed with jokes about levels of manliness like “You suck because you brought the crudité,” “You suck cause you said ‘crudité’.” “You both suck, cause you know the f#$%ing word ‘crudite’.” The evening wouldn’t be complete without at least one reference to someone’s length of manhood or lack there of.

And after many beers and a long night of the big stack floating from person to person, the evening usually ends with a game based on random luck that ends up costing lots of money. (I have a special hatred for Acey-deucy. It’s not as bad as Indian Poker, but pretty darn close.) The last step is to cash out, say our goodbyes, and tentatively set up the next game.

No deep philosophical debates, no supportive emotional wraps, no brain trust at work. Just guys hanging out being a little competitive, busting each other’s chops, making fun of everything, in short, being guys. Now you know.

File Under Mr. Cool