In the opening scene of Rounders, Mike, played by Matt Damon, decides to take his entire bankroll ($30,000) to the underground poker game of Teddy KGB (John Malkovich). He ends up losing it all and having to start over and having just lost the remainder of his law school tuition.
Once you get the itch to play, it becomes difficult to remain at attention without giving yourself a scratch. Think about the last time you did some landscaping of your undercarriage and soon developed an ingrown hair. And then think about being unable to scratch it. That’s how I feel about poker right now. I need a scratch and don’t feel like driving an hour to the Sands or two hours to the AC to reach down and get some relief.
Recently, I have been fascinated by private clubs and how they start and more importantly for my purposes, how to find them. The infamous Mayfair Club. Ben Franklin’s Junto Club. The Metropolitan Club. How did they get started and how do people that want to join become members?
One of my favorite memories of my childhood was playing weekly poker games with the guys. This was before we found out about drinking (see the last blog) or that girls, despite popular belief, do not, in fact, have cooties. This was the peak of the craze of Chris Moneymaker and ESPN showing poker on a nightly basis.
The only underground game I’ve played in was on Bloomfield Avenue in (removed to protect those involved) eight years ago. I went maybe four or five times and loved every minute of it. To enter, you walked down an alley and made a right turn at the back of an old building. There was a small light with a camera in it and a doorbell that you pressed to say who you were, and if it was your first time, the person that was vouching for you. After you entered the door, there was a small room, more like a closet. Once the door closed behind you, then the second door opened and you entered in the main poker room with couches, TVs, and a woman who would make you sandwiches and get you your poker chips. It sounds sketchy in a way, but I never felt unsafe and all the guys were nice and fun. You met people from all walks of life, but at the table, you were all equals, except for the level of poker talent. Nothing else mattered.
Now, this doesn’t mean I want to become a professional poker player or that I want to find a club controlled by the Russian Mob. Really, I’m just looking for a weekly game that is fun and competitive and I know that when I want to play, there is a table open. Simply a weekly game with a bunch of good guys where I can risk $100, have fun and some good conversation and compete on the felt.
Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find.