The Shame of Texas Hold ‘Em

“If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”
Paul Newman

The Shame of Texas Hold ‘Em

The game of poker is a lot of fun. It is gambling and social with a set of rules that go back at least one hundred years. It is ideal for casinos and television. Personally, I won’t play the game anymore and I think that is a shame.

Let us look at the before and after of Texas Hold ‘Em.

I had a loose group of friends who would get together every two weeks for an evening of poker. This was with many beers, snacks, poker chips and a few foul smelling cigars. It was quasi-macho and one guy even wore his “lucky cowboy hat”. Twenty bucks and no more was the House Rule. And it was Dealer’s Choice which variation the next hand would be.

The first hour was usually five card draw, probably the best way to play poker. And then someone would suggest seven card draw. We’d throw in an ante if we agreed to play the hand. By the second hour, someone would say “one-eye jacks are wild”. Now the chances of getting a fancier hand were better. The beers would continue.

Brad, very serious, would start quoting Kenny Rogers, “Son, you gotta know when to hold them …”

The third hour would find us playing a game called Indian. We’d have our hands fanned out on our foreheads so everyone else could see but we could not. And we would laugh. It was so silly that we’d be roaring. Finally our host would announce Last Hand and we’d bet a bunch of chips and then go home.

Our group insisted on playing Texas Hold ‘Em. It was all the rage and on television. It was the most popular version of poker in the land.

And everything changed.

My group of buddies were now playing to win. That pseudo-macho cowboy image was gone to be replaced by manly chiding as in “don’t be a pussy, bet on your bad hand”. The strategy now was to let others drink enough so the winner could urge the loser to make bad choices. Then, having won, he’d strut out of the house with the most money; our money, as if we were chumps. And we surely were.

It is a shame that those free-wheeling friendly games are gone. Twos wild, Chicago, Aces Low, Stud, Draw and even Indian were Dealers Choice and a lot of fun.

Playing to win is no fun at all when it comes to gambling. Especially with friends. I’m out.

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