Gambling Games with Friends
The April 15th DOJ Indictments haven't allowed much room for a light-hearted Weekly Shuffle recently. This week, we decided to do something about that. If you want the latest on online poker's legal issues in the U.S., you can read our Blue Monday recap. This Weekly Shuffle will be free of poker legal issues while we instead share some fun gambling games you can play amongst friends.
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What Lodden Thinks
If you've never played What Lodden Thinks, you're in for a treat. This game has rescued many a gambler from the perils of boredom. The game was originated by Antonio Esfandiari and Phil Laak who decided to bet on poker player Johnny Lodden's answer to random questions, hence the name "What Lodden Thinks". The game is very simple to play, but it does a little getting used to.
A traditional game of What Lodden Thinks requires three people: two players betting against each other and a third person whose answer to a question they are betting on. First, the two gamblers think of a question they want to bet on. For example, they could bet on the number of blue whales their friend thinks exist. You can bet on just about anything with this game. And it's not important what the actual number of blue whales is, it only matters how many blue whales the "Lodden" player thinks there are.
The "Lodden" player comes up with the number of blue whales he thinks there are and keeps this number to himself. The two gamblers then hold what's called a Chinese auction to establish an over/under line. One player will start the bidding. The other player can bid the number higher or say "sell" which indicates that he is taking every number under the previous bid.
For example, player A bids 300, player B bids 700, player A bids 1100, and player B says "sold". This means player B has under 1,100 while player A has over 1,100. The designated "Lodden" is then asked to reveal his answer to the number of blue whales that exist. His response determines the winner of the bet.
Once you get the hang of this game, you realize that there is a limitless amount of things that can be bet on. It's easy to incorporate a lot of people into the fun (example: "How much does that guy think that guy paid for his watch?") And remember, the actual answer never matters, only what the "Lodden" player thinks the answer is matters.
Stack vs. Stack
This is a fun game my friend Leif Force introduced me to last summer at the WSOP. You and a friend take seats at the same poker table with the same amount of money. A bet size and a fixed number of hands are determined beforehand. Once you've played the number of hands, whoever has the smallest stack between the two of you pays the other player.
For example, Leif and I bought into a $1/$2 game with $100 each and put $100 on who would have the biggest stack after 10 hands. Going into the 10th hand, my stack was larger than Leif's so I folded blind while he raised in hopes of building and winning a pot. He actually got all of his chips in on a 50/50 spot and lost, so it was pretty exciting for me and extra brutal for him.
Race to the Bottom
This game is a lot like the Stack vs. Stack game only it's played at a slot machine, or more preferably, a video poker machine. Two players buy into a machine for the same amount. It doesn't have to be much, usually $5 or $10 works. The bet is basically just an elaborate coin flip. Participants play hand-for-hand (or spin-for-spin) on the machine. The first person to go bust pays off the other player. This is more fun on video poker since sometimes it's tempting to make a -EV decision to chase a big winning hand. While this is a very simple game, it's quite a lot of fun in practice and usually leads to some good sweats.
Four vs. Tens
This game is played at the craps table. One participant is assigned the number four, the other gets the number ten. These two numbers come up equally as often in the game of craps. When you hit your number, the other guy owes you a unit. For a game where the payoff occurs less often, play 3s vs 11s or 2s vs 12s. This is just a vig-free way to make craps a little more exciting than it already is.
2-7 Offsuit Game
This twist on the rules can make poker home games more fun than they already are. The game is pretty simple: if you win a hand with 2-7 offsuit, show your cards and everyone at the table has to give you a predetermined amount. High stakes players sometimes implement this rule and award anyone who shows 2-7 offsuit $10k from everyone else at the table. It's a great little twist that can loosen up the action a lot.
Credit Card Roulette
A classic gambling game among friends is credit card roulette. The game is about as simple as it gets: when the bill for a meal comes, everyone puts in one credit card. A card is chosen at random. That person pays for dinner. If you want to decrease variance a bit, you can select multiple cards and have those people split the bill.
Impromptu Rock Paper Scissors
When I was at the 2008 Irish Open, Roland de Wolfe got a lot of gambling action started amongst a bunch of poker players hanging out in a hotel bar together. He threw €50 on the ground and challenged anyone to a best-of-5 rock-paper-scissors match. All you had to do was walk up and match the money on the floor. What started as €50 matches slowly grew into €5,000 matches filled with intensity by the end of the night. Rock-paper-scissors is a great gambling game to bring out the emotions in people because 100% of people who play it are 100% sure they actually have an edge on their opponent.