I’m writing this in the dark by the light of a candle as our power is out because of the storms. Apparently the experiment I did last year – trying to manage without gas and electricity – was good practice! But if I manage to get this up on the blog at all today it will – hopefully – be from borrowing a friend’s internet connection. Fingers crossed that her power is still on…Hooray, the power just came back on!
Now, it may seem an unorthodox frugal activity – in fact perhaps you won’t think it frugal at all – but over the past weekends DJ and I have revived our poker playing skills. In an effort to beat the credit crunch and organise some cheap nights in, friends have held mini poker tournaments this month.
Before anybody accuses me of being a shameless gambler, I must point out that, unlike some other forms of card games or gambling, poker is a game of skill. Plus the ‘buy in’ – the amount you pay to play – was £5 one week and £10 the next (in addition of course to a bottle of wine/pack of beer to take along). We’re a reasonably tight-fisted lot. The most we’ve ever spent on a buy-in was £15. That was a Christmas special at a friend’s house years ago. If I remember rightly, I managed to stagger home with a profit.
Triumphantly, or perhaps slightly embarrassingly really, DJ and I succeeded in cleaning up at both mini Texas Hold ’em tournaments and taking our friends’ money. Last weekend despite some appalling hands and going all in (betting all my chips at once) at least three times because I was bored, I managed to win (jointly). Everyone else was out and it was only me and James playing. Understandably he was bored – it was nearly 1am and we’d been playing since 7pm – so he called it a draw and split the money with me. I walked away with £20, which was a surprise. Often I have a habit of getting bored or tired in the middle of game and giving up, so I was pleased with my £15 profit.
This weekend I was feeling a bit under the weather, so DJ was forced to go it alone to the second tournament at Maz’s flat. There were only four players so fortunately the game didn’t take quite as long. The buy-in was £10 this time but still DJ won £40 – a £30 profit! Well, I say ‘won’ but in true credit crunch form DJ is not yet in possession of the winnings. The other three players had ‘forgotten’ to bring their money and claim they will be paying him by bank transfer…mmm! At least the previous week I was paid in cold hard cash.
Our lucky streak got me wondering whether we could take up poker as a way to supplement the frugal life. An extra £20 or £30 here and there would come in useful, after all. But we won’t always be lucky and I for one wouldn’t have the skill, patience or nerve to play in serious poker games. Playing poker with friends is fun, but the idea of playing for big money doesn’t appeal. I don’t think my risk-averse nature could stand it, even if I were a good enough player. Not to mention the large amount of cash you’d probably need to enter a proper tournament.
Ultimately it’s a cheap form of entertainment. You can dream of being a Las Vegas card sharp while having fun with your mates, with an added bonus that you might go home with a little extra cash. And that’s probably it.
Do you play poker? Would you use it to supplement your income or is that the road to ruin?
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