Poker Buddies column

Poker with these guys was a blast

Published June 14, 2008
Kansas City Kansan

I’ve played in a lot of card games in my life, some for money, some just for fun. But I’ve never enjoyed poker as much as when I had the opportunity to play with the five gentlemen I features on Page 1 of today’s paper.
Wyandotte County resident Jack Smith - one of the members of the group, which has been playing a monthly poker game for over six decades - is a subscriber to the Kansan, and he called me one day last year and suggested I come play cards with him and his friends and consider doing a story. I jumped at the opportunity, and last November I drove to Jack’s house to play cards.
As you’ll read in the story, , this group plays a pretty low stakes game - a nickel ante each hand, and the minimum bet is a penny. My wife had given me an allowance of a dollar for the game, so I slapped the dollar down on the table and Jack handed me a stack of chips.
That dollar’s worth of chips lasted me about two hours, but eventually the other players busted me. So I dug deep into my pockets and managed to find three dimes that I had sneaked out of the house (Take that, Jamie!). That bought me enough chips to play for the rest of the night.
By the time the game was over, I had built my stack back up to 82 pennies. That made for a net loss of 48 cents.
Many a night, I’ve lost 48 dollars or more in one sitting in the poker room at a local casino. After playing with Jack and his friends, here’s the lesson I learned: whether you lose 48 dollars or 48 cents at the poker table, strangely enough it hurts just the same.
Although these guys play for pennies, they’re very serious about the money involved. At the end of the night, I turned in my chips to Jack to claim my 82 cents. He didn’t round it off to a dollar, or even 85 cents; he meticulously counted out two quarters, three dimes, and two pennies.
After that night, I got sidetracked from writing a story about the group. At first, I thought losing sight of the story was a bad thing, but it ended up being good for me, because it gave me the opportunity to go play cards with them again.
Last month was again Jack’s turn to host the game, and he invited me back. This time I didn’t fare any better out of my dollar, I left with 44 cents.
Jack says it’s rare that a player wins or loses more than a dollar in a certain night.
One of the original members, Leonard Rose, keeps track of his winnings. In 2006, Leonard won $10.30. Last year, his total winnings added up to $7.03.
During my time with the group, I found that Jack and Leonard won the most hands, although Robert Campbell probably won the large pots most frequently. The other two players - John Wilson and Bill McCune - were also skilled players and won their fair share of hands, too.
So after two sessions, I’m into the group for a grand total of $1.14. You’re welcome, guys.
And remember - if you ever need an extra man, I’d be happy to bring my dollar and play along. I’d really like a chance to win my money back.
Hey, wait a minute! I just thought of something. Technically, I was playing poker as a work assignment. Doesn’t that mean the Kansan should reimburse me for my $1.14?

Matt Kelsey is the editor of the Kansas City Kansan.