Friday, July 08, 2005


A couple of my co-workers know that I have been reading about and learning to play poker over the last couple months, specifically Texas Holdem. One of them says that he played a lot of poker with his family as a kid, mostly 5-card draw. The other said that poker was never really his game, but he apparently played a lot of billiards for money and other games of chance when he was growing up.

A couple days ago one of them noticed that I had a book on Holdem poker with me in the office that I was reading on lunch hours ("Small Stakes Holdem" by Sklansky, Miller, and Malmuth, if you must know) and seemed amused that I was reading books on how to play poker.

"We should get together and play sometime."

"Yeah, that sounds like fun," the other contributes. "We could play for, oh, nijuuman'en each or so."

Nijuuman'en is 200,000 yen, or in the general vicinity of US $2000.

My eyes bug out. "Nijuuman'en?! Are you serious?!"

Sure, he says, and the other co-worker agrees. "It's gotta be enough that it hurts if you lose it. This would be a good amount - would be very nice to win it, but not too bad if you lose. I'd just take another Microsoft exam to pay for it if I lost." (Our consulting company gives bonuses out for each certification exam that their employees pass.)

Let me point out here that neither have ever played holdem. The 5 card draw player knows the general idea of holdem because I briefly explained it to him a while back. The billiards player probably knows basic poker rules but nothing about holdem.

"No thanks," I say. "That's just way too rich for me."

The idea really bothered me. I mean, I would love to play some cards with these guys since I don't have anyone to play with so I'm pretty much stuck to playing on the internet. Tokyo is not a seething hotbed of poker activity. What I would want would be a group of guys playing a friendly, but serious, game of poker, mostly holdem, for smaller stakes. I don't want to have to worry about losing a couple thousand bucks to play a game of cards with friends. I don't think I'd even want to win a couple thousand bucks off my friends at cards. Wouldn't that, you know, put a strain on your friendship?

I think these guys are more interested in the gambling aspect of the card game, and I'm more interested in the card playing. If you're at a table full of strangers in Vegas you'd probably love to have guys like that - guys who think it's a great time to wager a bunch of money and if luck favors you, you win big. If not, oh well, better luck next time! Hell, that sounds pretty sweet.

But friends and co-workers? No thanks, I will pass. Even if I was confident enough in my skills to be certain of winning, it would make me feel like a real shit to start a poker game with these guys for several thousand dollars and take their money because they barely know how to play. And I'm not even that good. A game for those stakes at this point would terrify me, and I would play like crap. I'd be constantly dreading whatever bizarre play they would come up with to lay a bad beat on me to the tune of $1500. There I'd be with pocket aces, and a third on the flop, and they'd draw and make their straight and kick my ass because they had 10-8 at the start and felt like "making it interesting".

Hopefully someday I will get to the point where the thought of a $2000 buy-in doesn't chill me to the point of immobility. But even so, I don't want that game to be against friends. If I'm going to outplay some donkeys and relieve them of their hard-earned money, I'd rather it be against strangers or vague acquaintances.

Shit. Eat. You know.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I completely and wholeheartedly support the efforts to
regulate online gambling because I feel that all humans should have the right to gamble from the comfort of their own homes without government involvement.