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Old school fun

RAJA THIRU/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Material Science senior Lance Brack examines his cards in a game last night at Jefferson at Star Ranch apartments.
By Andrew Salvati
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, December 4, 2003
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Stakes are low, but fun is high at guys' poker night

Whether it's three-, five- or seven-card, stud, draw or Texas hold 'em, guys like to get together to play cards, drink beer and watch sports.

That's what a few people were doing one night when I stopped by to see this small, albeit important, tradition.

The game was five-card. No wild cards. I would later be told that wild cards are "for pansies." The drink was Miller or straight bourbon, and it would not be long before all the players were talking loosely about the world, work and women.

"We get together every once in awhile to play poker," said Dave Byrnes, a bioengineering senior. "It isn't exactly every week or every month, or any set time, but more like whenever we all have a free night."

And so it was and still is; with the rigors of being a full-time student at the UA, and for some of them, working part or even full-time, there's not a lot of room for poker night.

"That is, we don't play as much as we used to," said Brian Danker, a material science and engineering senior. "Back when we were sophomores or juniors, we could get a lot of poker in."

RAJA THIRU/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Brian Danker, a material science senior, reaches for his winnings during a poker game at his apartment yesterday evening at Jefferson at Star Ranch apartments.

As we gathered around a wooden table cracked from nights long past, and as multicolored chips were tossed into the center, I knew I immediately understood the whole purpose of the traditional poker night. It wasn't really about winning or losing (although everyone did get their fair share of each). It was more about camaraderie - kicking back with buddies and enjoying a good beer and something a bit more sociable than just playing X-Box.

"It's not really about who wins or loses," said Lance Brack, as he sipped a Miller and threw down a full house, giving him a sizeable pile of chips to add to his own. "But it's always fun to rub your friends' noses in it when you do."

A moment later, Brack's winnings were all but spent when a bluff failed to pay off.

But poker isn't the only game enjoyed at guys' nights at home.

"Personally, I like craps better," said Danker as he folded and grabbed a can of beer from a strategically placed mini-fridge.

Danker mentioned that every once in a while, they convinced a friend to bring over a craps felt and die.

"It's a lot more intense and faster-paced," said Danker.

"Craps is fun," agreed Byrnes, "But the trick is, someone needs to be the house, and it doesn't always work out."

Indeed, a successful craps game is hard to find outside of Las Vegas. Danker told a story about how he and a friend broke the bank at a previous game, which caused play to stop indefinitely.

"If you bet a stack of chips and your number comes up, the bank has to have enough to pay you," he said. "Or you could just play with quarters, but that's no fun."

By the end of the night, most players had cut even. But the ambiance of the night was definitely clear; whether your game is poker, craps, darts or even blackjack, the point is just to have good fun with good friends.

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