You’re making me nervous

May 22, 2007

I like a game that flows. One that keeps a good, steady pace to it. You get your beer, a bowl of popcorn or chips, gather round the table and buy in for an evening of cards…with the understanding that everyone else around the table will actually being sitting at the table.

Because without a calm, enjoyable group of people serving as further company to your 52 red and black comrades, the typical home game can and likely will descend into absolute chaos.

OK, that’s a little dramatic, but here’s my point. There is one sure enemy to the game that flows, one mythical creature who always seems to find a way to rear its ugly head whenever I get ready to play, without exception.

And that being — the antsy player.

Don’t you hate this guy? I can’t tell you how many hundreds of times over the course of my years of gaming that I’ve said, “Would it be possible for you to just have a seat?”
Well, typically it’d be littered with harsher language than that.

This species is not a rare one, and the identifying language can be heard universally in home poker games worldwide.

“Ahhh, just deal me out a hand.”

First of all, “a hand” turns into 8 hands as he finds his way into the kitchen and experiments with the vodka and Kahlua for 15 minutes. Or he suddenly feels an uncontrollable craving for the last six of his frozen burritos coming on, and he just had to act on it before he died of starvation.

And if you’re only playing with four or five total people, losing one for a few minutes likely will put a halt to the game, as nobody wants to deal 3-person Omaha when your antes are less than your bus fare.

Moving on, another common phrase is, “Can’t a guy take a leak?”

A leak — yes. Eight leaks in an hour? I don’t care how many beers you’ve had or how many seals you’ve broken — no. Control your bladder or stop drinking 56 oz. mega gulps of Mountain Dew.

And then there’s the all-inclusive “Take it easy, man, it’s only cards.”

A very telling statement, and now you know this guy isn’t as interested in winning money as he is in getting drunk or hitting on whatever female may be there, or just plain being an idiot.

So how do we, as the other players who become annoyed that the game keeps being forced into 5 or 10-minute breaks, deal with this guy, classified of course in the modern book of poker science as “shallowbladderis assaholius.”

The ideal method, of course, is to form an unspoken alliance (completely legal) with other players to suck out as much money from this guy as possible, and as quickly as possible, to just get him out of the game altogether. (You could always as a group ask him to leave, but then he’d take his money with him…unless of course you beat him over the head with those frozen burritos.)

But the problem with this method is that sometimes you’re the only one that seems to be bothered by a guy who gets up every few minutes to go to the kitchen to fix a drink, or go to the bathroom, or check the scores on ESPN, or feed his cat, or smoke a cigarette outside, or play on Full Tilt Poker, or change the CD in the stereo, or grab a sweater because it’s “drafty”, or…you get the idea.

Another way to deal with him is the direct approach. Use a variation of the line I cited earlier, which is actually a variation itself of a classic Kevin Spacey line from “The Ref.”

“(Insert name), would it be possible for you to sit the f— down for 10 minutes and play some cards?”

It goes without saying that you won’t sound as cool as Spacey, but you’ll get your point across.

This is much easier to get away with, though, when you’re in a group of people you know and are comfortable swearing at. If you’re at the antsy person’s house or you’re playing with a group for the first time, you may have to bite the bullet and make yourself a drink of your own in the meantime.

I don’t know, maybe I’m alone here, but I want to play with people who, for the most part, keep their head in the game. I like quick deals, quick decisions and a steady, moving pace to the night. It actually takes me out of my game when things are stop and go, with the antsy player and the player who takes too long to bet being the worst offenders.

And in conclusion — hold on, I have to take a leak, I’ll be back in a few minutes.