My latest article for the 2+2 Magazine, An Old School Home Game, is a bit of a departure from the standard fare. It’s about a very interesting home game to which I was recently invited, and while it contains some strategy content, even that is mostly concerned with the correct plays in games with wild cards and multiple flops. Most of the players were twice my age, and the game itself was older than I am:
Carl asks if I have much money stuck on Full Tilt, and I tell them that yes, in fact, I do. “You know Richard here invented online poker?” I say nothing but look up inquiringly. “He started the World Rec.Gambling Poker Tournament. It’s still played every year. By e-mail.”
This is the moment when I realize that, though these guys are the furthest thing from cowboys and Texas road gamblers, I’m in the presence of a sort of poker old school. These guys were exchanging ideas about the game in the Rec.Gambling.Poker newsgroup before most of us knew what the internet was. They played a meaningful role in the beginning of poker’s movement away from the realm of gambling and gusto and into the realm of mathematical analysis.
The same obsessive passion that drove Steve Jobs and Bill Gates to tinker away in their garages drove these guys to a natural confluence of two geeky hobbies: computers and card games. Though they didn’t exhibit Gates’ and Jobs’ relentless entrepreneurship in monetizing their passions, their early attempts to share their hobbies with like-minded enthusiasts around the world are surely the forerunners of such behemoths of the modern-day poker world as PokerStars and the Two Plus Two Forums.
It was a pretty fascinating experience. Hopefully writing about it didn’t weird my hosts out too much and I’ll get a chance to play with them again sometime.
Do you play in a home game? What’s it like? How long has the game been running? How seriously do people take it? This experience has gotten me really interested to learn more about the cultures of informal games like these, so I’m eager to hear about it!