Home games offer amateur players a chance to get together and socialize while enjoying their favorite game. Chances are that most will never play poker outside the confines of the home game.
However, there are many of us who are more ambitious and are able to take a few risks in life. When this happens, it becomes a big deal in the local home game community. Below is a list of five big-time events for home game players.
1. Playing the World Series of Poker
Most amateur poker players will never have the experience of playing at the World Series of Poker, so when one of your home game buddies gets to go, it becomes a big deal. It doesn’t matter whether you play the Main Event or the $565 Colossus, as long as you are playing for a WSOP bracelet.
The first time I went to the WSOP in 2006, it was a huge deal with all the folks that I played poker with locally. By pure chance, ESPN got a shot of me in the $1,500 Limit Hold’em event at a table that was beside Phil Ivey.
For two weeks afterwards, I got phone calls whenever someone “saw me on TV.” I was only on screen for about 8 seconds as the camera panned across the room, but I was on TV playing poker and to everyone at home, that was a big deal.
2. Vegas Baby!
Vegas is considered the Mecca of gambling and poker in the United States. Whenever a home game hero decides to trek out to Vegas, it’s usually a banner event. While many of you play for cash in your home games, it doesn’t compare to playing poker in Las Vegas.
Depending on what stakes you play for at home, you may be playing higher in Vegas than you’ve ever played, even if it’s for relatively low stakes. Odds are that your home game buddies are going to give you advice on what games to play, what poker rooms to visit, what you should go see – even if they’ve never been to Vegas themselves.
Also, be prepared for “can you take this $100 and gamble it for me?” In some cases, your buddies may want to pool some resources and back you in some games. It’s up to you whether you want to take them up on it, but make sure you have a solid agreement in place before doing so.
If you go to Vegas, try and pick up a few cheap souvenirs for your buddies. There are plenty of cheap gift shops in Vegas and you can even get some customized poker chips made on Fremont Street that can be given out as card protectors.
3. Win a Tourney While on a Poker Trip
There are fewer things that will make a home game hero feel invincible than going on a poker trip and taking down a tournament. It almost doesn’t matter the size of the tournament as long as they walked away with the trophy.
— Valerie Cross (@vcrosspoker) June 15, 2017
For weeks afterwards, the home game will hear stories about the event and how he or she outplayed the various locals and donkey tourists in the event. They will likely bring their trophy to the next home game.
If you’re lucky, they will bring some of the cash they won in that tournament and “donate” it in your games.
4. Meet a Celebrity Poker Pro
Remember the first time you met a celebrity poker pro? Chances are that you posted about it on social media and then started telling all of your buddies about it.
When this happens to a home game hero, expect to hear about it at the next game. They’ll probably break out the selfies and autographs they got from the pros. Those of you who play with Robbie probably are sick of selfies by now.
— Robbie Strazynski (@cardplayerlife) June 14, 2017
I must admit, I am even guilty of this. When I went on my first live poker trip, I ran into Robert Williamson III, Men “The Master” Nguyen, Phil Ivey and a host of other pros at a WSOP Circuit Event. I still have the autograph I got from RWIII.
5. Go Broke on a Poker Trip
This isn’t something poker players want to experience, but many people will go on a poker trip and lose everything they take with them. Whether it is a streak of bad luck or admittedly bad play, they go out with hundreds or thousands of dollars and come back with nothing but a story.
— Justin Sung (@TheCrAzian) November 26, 2016
When this happens, the best thing you can do is to try and console your poker buddy and welcome him back into the game. At this point they are just looking for a bit of a confidence boost to take away the sting of the loss. This isn’t the time to give them shit about their losses.
Welcoming the losing player back into the fold will help strengthen the bonds already established and ensure they keep coming back in order to donate to you what they left elsewhere on their trip.