Poker Home Games: Pass The Trash

February 24, 2008

I can’t believe I’ve forgotten about this game up till now. It’s a relic from my college years (at least that’s where I learned it), but remains one of my favorite “break up the poker action” games to play – next to hearts, of course. As you may have guessed from that last sentence, this game isn’t really associated with any type of poker-related rules other than it’s based on a high/low card system.

The best part about pass the trash? It’s a sure fire way to absolutely piss off anyone sitting next to you, which more than likely will happen multiple times over the course of the game.

Now, for me, unlike traditional poker where I prefer a smaller crowd of 4-6 people max, the more you have for pass the trash the better.

Here’s how the game works if you’re not familiar.

The object, plain and simple, is not to be stuck with the lowest card at the table for any given round.

1.) Everyone places 4 of the same monetary denomination on front of them, spread out so that there are 4 distinct piles. These can be chips, they can be dollar bills….you can have these be worth a quarter or 20 bucks a piece…completely up to you.

2.) Everyone is dealt 1 card, face down.

3.) Rotating from the left, each player looks a their card and makes the decision on whether to keep their card or pass it to the person to their left. If the player chooses to pass, the person to their left is forced to give up his card in the exchange.

** Note ** If a player is holding an Ace (or King if you play Aces as low), then that serves as a block, and he does not have to trade cards when requested. Only the Ace can be a block.

4.) The person deciding whether to pass just says “pass” or “keep.”

5.) The same decision goes to the next player, and then the next, until we come to the end of the table.

6.) The last person has the option of keeping the card he has or was passed, or exchanging it for the top card off the deck.

7.) When the round is complete, everyone flips up their cards, and the lowest card must push one of his money stacks into the middle.

** Note ** If two people both have the lowest card, they both must put in a money stack.

8.) The cards from the previous round are discarded, not put back into the deck, and the remaining cards are dealt out again, rotating 1 spot to the right. The person who decides first this time also rotates 1 spot to the right.

9.) The game continues until there is only 1 person remaining with any money stacks, and he clears the pot in the middle.

** Ride the Bus note *** The first person to have to put all of his money stacks in the middle has the option of “riding the bus”, which is buying into the game for 1 more stack of money. Only the first person to lose all his stacks gets this option. If he passes, nobody gets to ride the bus…and certainly nobody gets to ride the short bus, as much as you may want to.

Can’t say there’s a whole lot of strategy to this one. It’s more gut feelings and trying to remember what was discarded from previous hands. I also can’t think of a reason not to ride the bus, unless you lost the first 4 hands and everyone else is sitting with full stacks of money…then I could see it being pointless to buy in again, even if it gives you another chance. However, you really never know, because there have been times I’ve seen someone ride the bus, ride it smoothly through 16 more hands and win the money in the middle.

So, as I said, not much of a traditional poker game like the games on DoylesRoom, but a fun money game and a good change from poker if you’re looking for something like that

Are you superstitious?

February 17, 2008

Let’s talk black cats….or maybe just the theme of superstition. Are you superstitious? Are you a superstitious card player? I’m sure there are thousands of devoted poker players out there, cool as a cat when it comes to holding back the joy of a full house heating up between their fingers, who have their little qwirks or fears that lead to supersitious…dare I say obsessive/compulsive tendancies.

I know I do. I’ll admit it. What’s my problem? Deck color.
That’s fine, laugh all you want. In the grand scheme of things, you know the big picture of smart betting, knowing what cards to hold, reading other players, keeping a straight face, trying to strategize through every little situation possible….you’d think whether you’re playing with a red or blue deck wouldn’t quite push it’s way to the front of your thoughts. But at least in my case, you’d be wrong.

See, I need a red deck. I covet…a red deck. If you bust out a blue deck, I’ve already branded myself a loser for the remainder of the hands. I’ve even stooped so low as to “accidentally” rip a card out in the open so the blue deck must be retired in favor of bringing back a red one. Yeah, I might eat the $3 cost of buying a new deck, but hey, it’ll pay for itself from all the money I’ll be winning flipping over the top hands backed by that beautiful red.

Don’t try to sqaush my dilusional thoughts, either. Much like electronic fanboys, you can’t convince me otherwise, even when I know you’re probably right.

But anway, what are some other superstitions that pop up around the card table?
I know in my old high school game, when there were 4 of us, we HAD to sit in the same spots, at least when playing Hearts. In fact, it got so ridiculous, one of the players would accuse the game of being unfair just because we all WEREN’T sitting in the same seats. Explain the logic on that one to me.

I won’t spiral into a life question pondering what makes us superstitious. I’ll leave that for a future column (heh…is he joking?). I just thought this was something that had to be somewhat common in the home poker game community.

Does one person always have to bring the Cheetos? And someone else the beer?
Am I superstitious that something unlucky will happen if I don’t break the record for most question marks in a poker column?

I wonder, also, if someone’s supersitions have got in the way of a game to the point of annoying or irritating players enough that a regular group of players had to break up or split apart as a result. I can see it happening. What if someone you sat right next to every Saturday night had to tap his largest poker stack 8 times and then flip two chips off his lower stack onto the table, eat 3 Cheetos, take 2 swings of beer and then sing the same 4 notes to himself from the lastest Hannah Montana song after each time he checked or raised?

Thought so….red deck’s not looking so bad now, huh?

Play with whatever color deck you think is lucky on today.

Poker Home Games: A Little Piece of Omaha (ALPO)

February 10, 2008

There’s nothing I enjoy more when it comes to poker than a variation on a classic. A variation that really works, mind you, and forces seasoned poker players to rethink their entire strategy to adjust to a new set of circumstances.

A Little Piece of Omaha (or ALPO for short) has that in…..well…..spades.

I’ll assume everyone is familiar with the general rules of Omaha Hold ‘Em, so we’ll pick up from there.

Important note to start – This game cannot be played with fewer than 5 players. 5 is the absolute minimum, and although I’m typically not a fan of a packed table (just my preference), the more players there are for ALPO, the more interesting it gets.

1.) Each player is dealt 5 cards, face down. Note this is one more card per player than in typical Omaha.

2.) The deck is set aside, as it has served it’s purpose for this game and won’t be needed anymore.

3.) Each player then sorts through his or her hand and selects one card to add to the discard pile for the dealer. It is discarded face down, so not even the dealer sees it.

4.) At this point, the dealer shuffles the discard pile and selects 5 cards out of the bunch to make up the 5 community cards for the hand.

5.) Betting, play and payouts proceed as in regular Omaha at this point.

I really can’t explain how much I love playing this variation of Omaha Hold ‘Em. I introduced it to my regular group after just learning about it a few months ago myself, and now I’m totally addicted. When my deal comes around, I’m playing ALPO 9 out of 10 times these days.

The strategic plays are endless. If there’s more than 5 people playing, you have to ask yourself….will my discarded card show up in the community? If you’re dealt 3 aces in regular Omaha, the third Ace is worthless…but in ALPO it might make perfect sense to discard it in hopes that it comes up in the community.

What if you have 4 to a straight but a lone, out of place Ace? Do you discard the Ace and give your opponents ammunition for a high two-pair or full house?

I’ve kicked myself a few times already over the decisions I’ve been forced to make. I’d say having to discard something you know will help your opponents is almost as bad as breaking up a full house in pass the trash.

Give it a try, it might not build up the largest pots (unless you’re playing no-limit like the games at BodogPoker, of course) but it will definitely cause a few internal wars in your head. And isn’t that just as much fun? Laughing

Let’s play some (hic) cards!

February 3, 2008

I had an awkward experience a few weeks ago while playing cards. One which, oddly enough, actually had nothing to do with the game itself. Quick scene-setter.
Regular group, regular place, regular time, etc….
Right at the start of the night, though, something happened. It was my painful realization that I was doomed to spend the night as the only sober person at the table.

I know, the horror.
This may or may not have happened to you before, either during a poker gathering or at any other social event. So if it has, I now have felt your pain.

I’ll quickly recap how this came to be. It was my turn to bring the poker chips, which I did. I also made sure to grab some snacks en route to my friends place where everyone was playing cards. Cheetos. The puffy Cheetos not the crappy crunch Cheetos.

Anyway, my fatal mistake was forgetting to bring my own liquor, which I didn’t think would ever be something I’d have to worry about. Especially since these poker get-togethers have never been BYOB….or BYOL(iquor).

But, evidently, this one was, because the host house was bone dry. Apparently, the Friday night funfest emptied them out of everything from the rum to the toilet paper. (Don’t worry, that was taken care of….we used paper towels).

Thus, upon arrival, I’m hit square in the face with the harsh news that the only beverage being served from the tap is luke-warm city water. Mmmmmmm.

This turned out to only be an issue for me, since the others at the game took it upon themselves to not leave the certainly of their upcoming drunken stupor to anyone else but themselves.

Player 1 – 12-pack of Bud Light cans.
Player 2 – 6-pack of Heineken.
Player 3 – Budweiser for himself, more Budweiser for the host.
Player 4 – Already drunk upon arrival, plus a couple 40oz. bottles with the label illegible.
Player 5 (me) – Cheetos.

Now before you ask, I’ll clear up two questions. First, no, I don’t drink beer. Hit me with a vodka drink any day of the week and/or weekend. I’ll even tolerate rum in a pinch. Or whip me up a margarita…..or, being that I live in South Florida, throw a Sangria in front of me and I’m good to go.

But not beer.
I’ve tried. I’ve forced it down a few times. Doesn’t work for me. It’s like drawing to an inside straight. I could do it, but there are better options, including just giving up.

Second question, yes, I did still have my car. But it would’ve been a 10-minute drive, and I rest on my champion reputation of laziness when it counts.

So, taking both of those explanations into account, I was left to my own wits as my counterparts slipped deeper and deeper away from reality.

And the saddest, most pathetic part….let me add embarrassing….and definitely unfortunate….was that I wasn’t the big winner of the evening. The only one thinking straight, and my brain turned on me and screwed me over more than once. Probably because all I was feeding his body was now-stale instant cheese-diarrhea capsules.

More information than all of us needed. All right, forget it. I’m going to get tanked. It’s Super Bowl Sunday and I’ve got to get my bets down at! See ya!