How much is that hand really worth to you?

December 14, 2008

I was sitting on my couch this afternoon, waiting while my ribs were smoking on the back porch (they were delicious), looking at my 1-year-old son, and the strangest thought popped into my head.

I’m going to share it with you, mainly because I needed something to write about this week, but it sparks a logical question that every serious or semi-serious gambler has or needs to ask himself or herself at some point.

I thought, “Well, there’s definitely no way I’d ever wager him in a poker game.”

Sound reasoning, right?  Yeah, I thought so.  No clue why that random thought pushed its way to the forefront of my brain, but it did nonetheless.

So, I’d quickly established what I wouldn’t put up for grabs at the table…thus prompting the inevitable question – what would I put in play?

What would you put in play?  How much?

We’re talking a house game, of course.  Unless the new rules in Vegas allow for pink slips among green and black gambling chips.

I also want to lay out one more ground rule for considering this question.  It doesn’t pertain to a “can’t lose” hand.  No “sure win” five of a kind hands.  There’s no risk there, so it’s no fun to weigh what you could win against what you’d actually risk losing.
            All right…me first.  I’ll set the scene.

Let’s say we have a nice game of seven-card stud going (a preference to Hold ‘Em for me…at least this week).  My opponent has 3 different hearts showing…with an Ace and some lower ones (that happen to be 3, 4).  He’s been betting strong since the start, so for the sake of argument we’ll assume he has at least 4 hearts before the river.

The river comes out and he bets $1,000.  The pot’s already built up to about $700 through your bets and others.  And, obviously, it’s not an all-in type of game.  Anyone can bet what they want, whether it’s on the table or not.  I understand it’s not a likely set of circumstances for a house game, but let’s humor the situation…suspend reality a bit for this exercise.

You have a pair of two’s showing…a couple more hidden.

Not to steal anything from “Speed” but…what do you do?

He could have that straight flush.  Or he could be betting on you having only three of a kind to his high flush…either way, he’s put a ton of money in play.  Do you let him buy it or do you come back even stronger?

Ah, one problem, though…you don’t have that much money, even in your bank account.  So no checks.

But what about that nice Movado watch you’ve got on?  The college graduation gift from your parents…yeah that one.  That should cover it. 

Worth the shot at paycheck there in the pot?

I would.  The watch would go in.  But that’s probably where I’d draw the line.

As cool as it’d be to re-enact some ’80s movie where I’m tossing my keys into the middle in slow-motion, I just wouldn’t go that far.

My house, my car, my family, anything that would compromise my job…all that’s off the table.  Literally and figuratively.

But I’m sure there are many of you out there that have made some ill-advised bets.  So I wonder, how far did you go?

A couple hours with your girlfriend? (Given she was on board with the wager, of course.

30 minutes in the dog run with the crazy neighbor’s pit bull?

How about a good head-shaving?

Ah, the possibilities are endless…especially for the drunk and stupid.

Well, that’s the end of my random thought.  And I’m thinking, as long as everyone keeps their unmentionables safely secured in their pants, no wager could be that bad, could it?