Saturday, June 24, 2006

Everest Friday

After probably a couple months away, I went to the Everest Cup game at JPPA on Friday night.

I'd heard from Bluejay that there were quite a few more foreigners coming out for the Everest games, but I wasn't quite expecting so many. I think about 8 other gaijin (other than myself) came out - all of them fairly young men. All of them seemed to know each other, and from snippets of conversation, it sounded like they mostly lived in gaijin houses, low cost monthly-rental apartments aimed at short-term residents, mostly foreigners. It's a bit like living in the YMCA.

Three or four of them were asian and spoke Japanese quite well, as well as English. A couple of them spoke something that sounded like it might be Danish. One of them had a bit of a Gus Hansen look going on.

Twenty-eight players entered. I lasted pretty long, going out in sixth place. I was reasonably pleased with my play - I don't think I made any glaring errors, which is pretty good for me. The blinds go up pretty quickly in the Everest Cup games, so that they can finish in a few hours on Friday nights, so I made it to the crap-shoot point where any raise I could make was all-in. I won the first one or two, then lost one, crippling me, and went out soon after.

The feel of the game was different with so many young male gaijin players - it was louder, more energetic, with more drinking and English tabletalk. A bit like a frat party.

Most of the Japanese players didn't seem to mind, but I worried. Japanese aren't as familiar with poker as Americans, have no kitchen-table games in their childhood or background poker stories or knowledge in their culture. It's new to them, and there's no guarantee it will catch on here. It helps to have someplace where they can learn and play the game in Japanese, with other Japanese, and not have to worry about dealing with English.

Was it just coincidence that there was only one female player there on Friday? I've been surprised by the number of young Japanese ladies who have taken an interest in the game - in this case, the lack of poker background and stereotypes in Japanese culture works in their favor. But if they're put off by loud Americans, they may not want to play anymore.

Hopefully I am just overreacting. But my first reaction is to skip the Everest games on Friday and just go to the Saturday games at the JPPA, which are more expensive (Everest Cup games are only 500yen). For cheap Friday night games, there's still Duke. And not overrun with gaijin.

Yes, I may well be a hypocrite.

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