Poker Weekend, July 1999

The gang converged again for our semiannual meeting, this time near our alma mater: South High School in Torrance.

We got in various times on Friday night, watched a video, and spent the night.

We started Saturday at the Lighthouse Cafe in San Pedro, where we had a great meal and talk. We then split up, with some of us going to the beach, Doug to see his Dad, and Sid to look for more books, as he was a little short at home.

I was in the beach group, and the warm water allowed us to body surf for 45 minutes at a time. Here are three happy guys. This next shot is just before some beach wrestling; note the look on Brian's face when, at the last moment, he remembers that he didn't go out for wrestling  .

As two of us were soccer fans, the rest joined us to watch the finals of the Women's World Cup. All seven of us got into the match. Here is a photo of the winning shot in the shootout, and a picture of the victors.

That afternoon we ordered pizza and sent Doug and I out for beer, and then we were ready to play.

For this reunion I'm showing a few of the games we play. But first, we play a fair number of High-Low poker games. In these games one person wins half the pot by having the best poker hand and another wins half with the worst poker hand.  The way we play, we don't count straights or flushes against a  low hand, so its possible to win both high and low and take the whole pot. Who gets to bet first is determined by the highest cards on the table.

Rock Crusher

The first game  is  called either "Rock Crusher" or "Pass the Crap." Its a High-Low game. Everyone is dealt seven cards. You then pass three of cards to your neighbor, and pick up three cards from your other neighbor. (We rotate between passing left, right, and across.) You then pick the five cards you want to play and place them facedown in the order you want to play them. Then everyone turns over a card simultaneously, after which you bet. After four rounds of betting, you turn over the last card to see who won.  The skill is in selecting cards to pass, guessing what cards you will be passed, putting them in a clever order, guessing who is going high and who is going low, and then betting to maximize your gain or minimize your loss.

Here is a picture of Rock Crusher after four cards have been revealed: Rich's cards on the left shows a 6, 2, 3, and Ace, which looks like a very good low hand. Arleigh's cards in the middle shows a King, pair of Queens, and an Ace, which is at best three-of-a-kind, not that high a winning hand for a typical game of Crusher. Sid's cards on the right are a 4, 5, 6, and 8, which is either a straight if his last card is a 7, or a so-so low hand. Since a straight beats three-of-a-kind, Sid could win high. On the other hand, if Rich's hole card is either bigger than an 8 or it pairs one of his other cards, Sid could win low.

The next card reveals all. Rich's hole card was a 7, givng him a "76" low; Arleigh's was a 5, giving him just a pair of Queens for high (thus Arleigh was probably bluffing that he had a high hand, which probably drove out others with better cards earlier); and Sid's hole card was a 2, giving him an "86" low. Thus Rich wins low, Arleigh wins high, and they split the pot.

Criss Cross

This game is played by the pros in Poker Championships, in part because the audience gets to see lots of the cards.

Each player gets three cards, and five cards are dealt in the middle, placed in a cross. The winner is the highest poker hand using the best five cards from his hand and then either set of three cards in a row from the cross. The cross cards start face down, and are turned up one at a time, with a round of betting after each card is revealed.

In this game, here is the cross after all five cross cards are turned up: Ace, 10, 2 in one row, and Jack, 10, 8 in the other.  Here is my hand, giving me an Ace high straight. (Wouldn't you bet high on this hand?) Here is Sid's hand and the rest of the cards: a pair of Aces and a 2, giving him a full house: three Aces plus a pair of 2s, which easily beats a straight.

Sid's luck continued like this the rest of the night, and here is the big winner. Anyone else detect an air of smugness in this shot, or am I still bitter about that hand?

For the first time we had several hands were we misread our own cards. One of us used a diamond to fill our a heart flush, and another used a 6 to fill an inside straight, when he needed a 7. I guess its Jumbo Index cards from now on, as our eyeballs apparently are also over 50 years old.

The next morning went headed for an outdoor breakfast at Ruby's, inside King Harbor in Redondo Beach. Notice that Rich's wife, Nancy, has joined us. Nancy joined us the last night since her alternative loding fell through, but she used up her once-a-decade permit by joining the men. Another big meal and big talk, catching up on what is going on in each others lives.

We then posed for a group picture. Here is another angle of the South High Varisty Poker Team. These two pictures will help document the graying of the Team.

Next time, its Superbowl Weekend in the snow.