No, I'm not stuttering. The G-Game is simply a reference to our lovely town of G-Vegas and the poker community herein. It's now been about four years or so since I started playing semi-seriously in various games around town. Those include home games, away games, and the slightly infamous underground scene that was in its hey-day back in 2007. To say the environment has changed would be a pretty large understatement. What follows is simply my own personal musings on the matter. Take them for what they're worth.
The game I've played in most consistently has been Monday Night at GucciRick's. The people attending have slowly changed over the years as new folks who get the highly-coveted invite replace those who either are no longer interested in playing as much or who simply cannot afford to. The stakes are not high, at least not upon initial inspection. The blinds remain $1/$2 with a $5 straddle put on roughly 30% of the time. You can buy-in for $300 and re-buy for $600 should you get stacked. This doubling of the re-buy makes the game rather deep in the late stages of the evening and it's not uncommon for players to post four-figure profits and losses. It's this latter fact that has had the most impact on the game as the swings can get large. Enduring a loss of $1000 or more takes some getting used to and not everyone does. As such, some players no longer play and some take occasional breaks. With all that said, in the end it is Gucci Rick's game and he manages it very well. It's lasted as long as it has due directly to some decisions he's made about the game and hopefully the game will continue to blossom.
The old Thursday night crew I believe still plays quite regularly. I've not been to one of those games in a while mainly due to other players having dibs on seats once I could no longer commit to a weekly attendance. That game is structured a bit lower in steaks which is probably why it is still going very strong.
The always insightful Peter Birks has frequently made comments about skinning and shearing a sheep and how the longevity of a poker community could very well depend on such decisions. The player turnover on Monday night vs. that of Thursday night could be an example of such a notion. I used to think that accelerated re-distribution of poker money would not ever effect the landscape of our local scene, but that was before the economy took such a downswing. There are many players who no longer have the expendable money they used to dedicate to poker.
Other home games I've played in have been my own, one up in Charlotte, and one hosted by Lee Jones in Asheville. Besides my love for playing poker, my primary reason for trying to get to these out of town games as often as I can is because of the reciprocity in player base. Lately, if I want to host a game at my house, I depend on some out of towner's making the trip so that my game is viable. Without them, there have been multiple occasions where I've not had enough people willing to play and had to cancel a game. I do enjoy hosting and cancelling a game is something I'm loathe to do.
The underground scene has also had some consolidation. I'm not as much of a regular as I used to be. After the issues that occurred in late 2007 (if you're a long-time reader, you know what I'm talking about), I ceased playing in a raked environment. Late last year however, one of the games moved from its location inside an abandoned commercial building to a residential location. The new setup is more amenable to my preferences and I was able to convince my better half to allow me to play there once again.
But even then, the games are not necessarily as busy as they used to be. Many of the other underground games around town are no longer operating. The environment is certainly not conducive to the longevity of an underground game. You still need to dodge the legal aspects and the rake-induced acceleration of alleviating the poorer players from their money.
I recently got invited to another home game locally and had a great time. I'm hoping that the player base of that game will mix into the player bases of the other games I play in as the new blood, so to speak, could really be helpful in keeping the life of the games going. Getting to play live, local poker a couple of times a week is a luxury I don't want to give up.
And Toby, if you're reading this, hopefully someday I can play a pot with the best player in South Carolina.