Five minutes before my first home game, I was frantically searching YouTube for, “How to Play Texas Hold’em.” I had played online before for a couple months, mostly for free, but the app had done all the dealer thinking for me and I was very hazy on the details of a real live poker hand. As I impatiently tried to keep track of the betting rounds in the video, there was a knock at the door. The guests were arriving.
Two weeks earlier, enamored with my discovery of poker, I had decided to reach out to my neighbors and friends to try to cajole them into a game of nickel poker around the kitchen table. “I’ll print out the hand rankings,” I reassured them on the Facebook event, “Let’s learn this together and be SUPER FRIENDS!!!” Those who arrived were all ladies; fellow moms from my kids’ school. Our first poker night was a hit. I started hosting two or three a month. I knitted dollar sign loot bags for my friends to haul home my money, and baked shortbread cookies shaped like all the different suits. One of the moms who learned poker that first night asked me to increase the stakes to dimes after she won $12 in a night with the help of a set of Aces, and so another poker night was added to the calendar. It was only a matter of time until we were loading up in the minivan and going to the casino on weekends.
During these COVID-19 times, it’s hard to imagine a better future when we’ll light-heartedly invite random large groups of people to our home. But, remember, in happier times ahead there will be many social ladies starved for human interaction. Poker is so incredibly accessible to completely new players. If I can be the blind leading the blind through the blinds, then certainly any woman with a modicum of skill can help other women in poker explode onto the scene. As real life emerges once more, consider hosting a home game when safe to do so. You might be surprised at who shows up!
Dr. Alexandra Chauran