Trust me. Unless you’re looking for a legitimate reason to get divorced from your significant other, or wish to never be invited to your parent’s or in-laws for the holidays, never play poker with your family!
If the corrosive bile that is spat across the table when they lose isn’t enough to have you screaming to the gods, then the constant reminder about ‘how lucky’ you were will have you reaching for the metaphorical rat poison.
Just don’t do it!
Take Jim, for example. His name is Jim; he isn’t fictitious and is definitely not based on my own experience in any way. Aww, who am I kidding!
In order to make up numbers one evening, I suggested to my prospective father-in-law that he join my regular, but somewhat thinned down, Thursday evening game. It was a small stakes game: a buy-in of €20 minimum with blinds of 50 cents and one Euro, and I would be providing the drinks and nibbles – a typical, social game.
George duly arrived, the new player was introduced to the regulars and, drinks in hand and everyone bought in to the game and received their chips…
After about eight or so hands, George decided he didn’t like the focused silence that always marked the beginning few hands of the evening and began to engage everyone in conversation. Not talk about the river card that given him his quad fours just two hands earlier, nor about the pair of aces that he’d folded, face up, because he’d forgotten they were high cards and not, in his words ‘just ones’. No, he chose to talk about a number of inconsequential things: the weather, the latest political scandal or who had won the latest episode of some inane reality show.
I could tell, by the look on the faces around me that this chatter was not appreciated. It was not the usual bawdy, irreverent, banter that crossed the table, but some kind of incessant, beige, mind-numbing drone that drew you in and insisted on a reply. Nobody could focus. Everyone was missing straights and flushes, folding their Ace/Jacks just to escape the table and hide in the kitchen or bathroom for a few minutes and, because he was my father-in-law, none of my friends, out of deference for his position, told him to shut up.
About an hour later, beers drained and exceedingly lighter in chips, a couple of my friends decided to call it a night; one by going all in with just a two/seven and nothing on the table, and another, less subtly, by faking a call from his wife. That was the beginning of the end. Without exception, we were folding half-decent hands just to speed up the inevitable process.
Eventually, after nearly everyone had left, we tallied up the remaining chips. I had lost all my 20 Euros, Nick, the only friend remaining at this point, was down about 12 and the others, long gone and probably slumbering at home, had also lost between 15 and 20 Euros each before walking, somewhat hastily to the door.
Seemingly surprised at his fortune, George gathered up his cash and politely (George is alwayspolite) saw Nick to the door as the latter left mumbling under his breath about paying for the privilege of being bored senseless.
With just the two of us left in the room, I thanked George for coming and trued to usher him to the front door.
“Thank you for a wonderful evening. You have such polite friends,” he said.
“Sure, no problem,” I remember replying. “And well done. I can’t believe how lucky you were,” I added, with as much humour in my voice as an undertaker with a heavy cold.
“Although,” he continued. “They’re not very good poker players, are they? I mean, if they can be put off by some old guy talking nonsense at them all evening.”