I won 70 dollars in the first game of poker I ever played in Boston, and I’ve never stopped loving it since. I’ve played with family, in casinos, with college friends and in the pub for small money and (relative to my income) big money, there’s no game in the world like it and here’s why.
- It’s incredibly cheap entertainment
Buy in for a fiver. Maybe another five if you buy back after a bad beat or top up during the break. Ten pounds/euro/dollars and you’ll easily get three or four hours of fun. You couldn’t have a night out or go to the cinema for that price, you can barely have a night in for that price!
Now if like me you choose to have a few vodka and tonics as you play that will set you back a few quid more – but that’s entirely at your own discretion!
- It’s a great way of getting to know people
I can’t think of any other game where you’ll find nine people from backgrounds as diverse as they come in poker playing together… Young, old. Rich, poor. Male, female. Clever, stupid. Quiet, extroverted. You name it, you’ll find it at a poker table. And they all have a story to tell. You might not hear it the first night you meet them, but play poker with the same group of strangers a few weeks in a row and they’ll come; the wars they have fought in (literal and metaphorical), how they met their wives, what they’re calling the baby when it comes. Genuinely fascinating stories week on week from people who you almost definitely wouldn’t have met in any other context.
Which links in with my next point…
Getting a read
You really get to know someone at a table, even if they rarely say a word. Some things you get to know soon – are they bluffers or do they only call with the nuts (the very best hand), do they go on tilt after a bad beat (let the outcome of a previous hand effect how they play the next one). How do they stack the chips they have? Messy chipstack = loose player! When they’re running out do they go down fighting or cling on as long as possible? There’s a lot you can tell from how they play a hand.
- The thrills
I have never taken a penalty in a Premiership League football match or performed a concert in front of a sold out audience at the 02, so I can’t tell you how poker compares to that – but I have done a bungee jump so I can tell you that the feeling you get looking down from the top of the crane as you’re about to jump is comparable to the one you get when you go all-in. How many callers? Flop, turn, river…. The exhilaration if you’re stack is doubled, the disappointment of the loss – it’s roller-coaster stuff. No two hands are the same, no two games are the same.
- It’s completely unpredictable
As Jay-Z says in Forever Young “you get a new hand soon after you fold”. Lost the hand? No problem, they’re already dealing you a new one. Lost all your chips? Throw another fiver in the pot and buy in again. Lost the game? Play again next week. Try not to worry too much about the post-hand analysis. Maybe you played it right and got unlucky, maybe you got it wrong and you’ll know better next time. That’s the way the game goes.
Not to mention, it’s one of the only games in the world where you have a good chance of going home with more money than you arrived with!
Any fellow poker players out there? If not – why don’t you give it a go?!