First memories of poker

Kidsthesedays

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I'm curious to hear what everyone's earliest memories of poker are. Whether it was watching Moneymaker win the WSOP or playing with jellybeans in county jail, at some moment we all became interested in the same thing and ended up here.

TL;DR
started playing when I was young. lost touch. uncle showed me the way 11 years later



My earliest memories of poker was back in 2003 when I was maybe 9 years old. My older brother and I went out to San Jose, CA for the first time to visit my aunt and uncle. Who later I found out liked to play cards too much. My aunt's younger brother, he must have been 12 or 13 at the time, was obsessed with poker. He loved it so much that he wanted to share that interest with my older brother and I. This is how I came up on my first headsup set of mint dice chips. We picked up a couple racks at Spencer's Gift and on the way home, in the back seat of Toyota Camry LE( I swear if you were vietnamese your camry had to be LE) he broke the game down with hand rankings. Later that night we had a family dinner with aunts and uncles I never met before. After eating our fill of ginger lobster, black bean mussels, and steaks marinated in soy sauce, someone spread a blanket over the dining table. The chips came out and everyone threw in $20. Twenty dollars was my net worth at the time so my aunt covered me. I don't remember winning or losing, but I remember having fun.

A couple days later and my brother and I were back in Minnesota with our new chips. We'd play headsup almost everyday after school. He slowly lost interest and since I didn't have anyone to play with, I did too. Over the years I had chances to play here and there and it was still fun, but not consistent.

Fast forward to 2018, and I'm in Saigon, Vietnam. The uncle who taught me how to play in the backseat of that Camry LE is now grinding tournaments in Vietnam. We caught up and he reintroduced me to the game we both enjoy. I was there for 3 months and for maybe 3 weeks all I would do is eat, play poker, eat, play basketball, and eat some more. I came back to Minnesota with an itch to play. I met Forrest that summer and eventually went to one of his games. I remember seeing his table and feeling the chalky mint chips. All I could say was "damn these are nice". About a year later I wanted to start my own game and ended up here with all of you.
 

davin

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I used to come home from school (HS) in 2003 and always watch it on espn, finally I attended college in 2005 at UNLV. And poker was popular. I ended up getting stuck on grinding the free roles on Bodog poker. We then started playing 5$-20$ sng’s with friends. I then got deeply into playing online poker - multitabling sometimes 8-12 tables grinding. It was so much easier back then to make money.... I remember playing $3-55$ tourneys on stars. I left college after 2 years and worked full time for family business and also continued about 40-60hrs a week of online poker. It got so bad my gf was going to leave me so I minimized it a lot. Black Friday came around and both my FT and stars accounts got seized. I got my money from stars but not FT. Since then only home games and flying to Vegas.
 

FordPickup92

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Cool idea, thanks for sharing!
Let's see, long time ago when I was a teenager I used to play drunken 3 card molly with some friends, I was usually a luck box because I didnt really know what I was doing. Wed occasionally play 5 card stud or draw as well. Fast forward to last year and my second poker encounter was this beautiful forum which lead to lots of home play every single night with @Ben8257. And that turned into my first ever tournament (and win) at @krafticus' home game. Hooked ever since! :LOL: :laugh:
 

HobokenNJ

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I played a poker-variety when I was a kid. WC Fields Chickadee Poker -- link here. I don't recall much about it other than it was possible to get five aces.

Didn't really play again under about a year-and-a-half ago when I realized regulated online poker was a thing in NJ. Got sucked into reading and learning more about it.

EDIT:

After reading a bunch of the stories below, I hope my son has the same fond memories are many others do. My live poker experience is mainly heads up with my young son. It's really great. (In case you're wondering, I was the points leader in 2019 and leading in 2020 as well.)
 
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Kain8

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Grandpa taught myself, my brother, and my two cousins, the basics of 5 Card Draw and 7 Card Stud, back when I was 5 years old. I still remember the ultra thin plastic chips and the joys of showing a flush that we would make on 7th street!
 

Rhodeman77

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Earliest memories of poker are of my Mom, grandma, some aunts, uncles, and older cousins sitting around picnic tables or dining room tables at every family gathering playing 5c/10c/25c dealer choice games with piles of change and a few $1 bills. My mom actually kept a zip lock bag in her purse full of change for this reason.

They would play all the crazy games you would expect. All were 7 card stud based games, follow the Queen, low spade in the hole, midnight baseball, etc.

Often times I would sit beside my mom as she played not really having any clue how the games were played but loving it none the less!

My other earliest memories are also of my Mom. When I got my first computer, sometime in the late 80’s I think (it had a cartridge for basic lol) one of the many games I had was a poker game. It was stud poker against 4 or 5 computer players with names like Bubba and Slim lol. I was a bit of an insomniac as a youth and I would find my mom playing that game in the middle of the night so I would sit up with her and she explained to me hand rankings and how to play the game.
 

aaronroch

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My earliest memory is playing with 2 friends in my grandma’s basement... I don’t even know if we were using chips. I do remember had no idea how betting was supposed to work!

Next was senior year of high school, the ‘losers club’: a bunch of us who were pretty much losers throughout school finally woke up and said “this is stupid, we should just hang out with each other and party”. Jeff’s older brother taught us to play what I know recognize was 0.05-0.25 spread limit. We played every couple of weeks in-between partying and hanging out with the girlfriends that we suddenly all got. Ah, good times. :)

EDIT: that would be like 30 years ago. Yeah, I’m old.
 
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upNdown

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Intellivision
8F2C613B-5BE4-423F-AC0C-D56CE0CF6B06.jpeg

In the early 80’s the big upgrade from the basic Atari system was Intellivision, and the game that came packaged with the console was blackjack/poker. 5 card draw, 5 card stud, and 7 card stud. That’s where I learned to play. And also, we’d play for buttons with Mom, sometimes.
The poker boom somehow passed me by. I had some not very close friends who had a game. I showed up once, because I loved poker and thought I knew how to play. Nope - I knew nothing about Holdem, and got crushed by guys who played weekly. I was smart enough to know it wasn’t bad luck, I was just outclassed. I had no idea how learnable the game was, so I just never went back. Damnit.
Ten years later, I bought Poker for Dummies on a whim, started showing up to the same game, and became a winning player after just a few sessions.
 
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Davism72

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Huh, I'm at work right now, so I didn't really think I'd type up a long story like this. But I did. Guess I wanted to talk about it. Thanks @Kidsthesedays for a solid thread.

-----------------

We used to go to Yosemite every Christmas for a family reunion. We stayed in a house my grandfather -- Papa Earl, as he was known -- built for he and my grandmother to retire in. At least once every trip, we'd have a poker night. We played dealer's choice, but five-card draw was almost always called. Red, white, and blue interlocking chips were all we had, and they played just fine. Stacked like bricks.

One of the best parts was that only the men played. I don't remember if this was actually a rule, or if the women just chose not to participate, but it was always a guys-only thing. I remember feeling very mature and manly when I was finally old enough to play. It'd be a whole evening of sitting at the big table with men I admired -- giants then, and giants still -- gambling away my dad's money. It felt like serious business then, but it wasn't. Wilds were welcome if the dealer desired. I remember something about wearing big floppy women's hats, and maybe the silliest hat got more money.

In addition to draw, we played a lot of five- and seven-card stud. I even remember Papa teaching us some strange Texas game where you only got two cards and then a bunch were out on the table for everybody. This was probably in '96-'98, way before I'd ever played poker with friends or seen it played on TV. Hold 'Em might as well have been Manadrin for all of the sense it made to me, but looking back I think Papa was pretty cool for having been ahead of the curve. I wonder where he learned it. He'd been an Air Force pilot in the pacific during WWII. Maybe he picked it up from a fellow airman.

I'm thirty now. I didn't think there were that many years between that me and this me, but I suppose there are. I wish I could remember more details. My grandparents sold the Yosemite house because they were getting too old to handle the upkeep. Papa died six or seven years ago. My grandmother, Grace, who we named my last daughter after, passed in the Fall. They were both old and sick, and they'd lived full lives, but it's still hard that they're gone. They both suffered from Dementia. They both forgot the people they'd loved most before they died, and that just scares me to death. I remember sitting around that same dining room table a few years later, playing with the same cards and chips, and watching Papa have a hard time remembering the rules of the games or what the value of the chips were. This was probably '04 or '05, so I was in my early teens. It didn't even occur to me at the time that this might be the start of something much more painful for him.

They're gone now, but so is their pain, and I'm grateful for that. I'm grateful to have known and loved them. And I'm thankful that Papa introduced me to a game I love and gave me some great memories along the way.
 

shorticus

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My earliest memories of poker are being a young kid (probably 5 or 6 years old) and my grandparents would go to draw poker games as this is a common game around my neck of the woods. When they would win a pot, they would call me over and give me a quarter. I can't remember how much money I would have at the end of the night, didn't really care, but I definitely cherish those memories.

My grandpa died 3 years ago and he had always been my biggest life fan. I miss him very much.

Thanks for this thread. I had never really expressed this to anyone before. Crazy.
 

Coyote

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I can remember, as a kid, my father and his friends (men only, of course) playing poker at Christmas Eves and New Year's Eves in our home or in their homes after midnight, when dinner was over, in the mid and late '70s.
It was 5-card draw and 5-card stud, with a short deck (5 and upwards, ie 40 cards).

I was pretty curious, but mom told me "it's too difficult to even understand; I 'm personally clueless and recommend you stay out of this when you grow up"
Still, dad taught me the very basics when I was sixteen, in 1985.

The poor guy (my dad - may he rest in peace) was not a good player, rather too tight and not aggressive enough, but he never lost any embarrassing amount.
The guy who invariably would crush the game was inevitably his (also late, may he as well rest in peace) best friend Nikitas, a hard-core right-wing mathematics professor (unsurprisingly) from Mani, the southern tip of the Pelopponese peninsula, famous (infamous?) for extreme right-wing royalism / anti-democratic feelings.

Nikitas (an avid smoker; I can still enjoy his favourite, indeed beautiful, tobacco flavour in my lungs, 35 years later) was a math tutor for me, and a poker tutor also. He told me once "Your brain's capabilities are exceptional, but you 're too fuckin' scared. Math, Poker, and Life take courage"
:)
 

Forty4

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My story is similar to @Rhodeman77 just remember my parents/aunts/uncles playing low stakes at the kitchen table numerous weekends throughout the year. I was certainly under 8.

My aunts is probably one of the best. My moms family had a cottage on Lake Ontario and their neighbors were all their aunts and uncles so pretty much every weekend was a card game. One weekend they invited “Sister so-n-so” out well she apparently had some issues with a child being in the poker game.
 

allforcharity

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My grandma taught me how to play 13-card poker (a.k.a. Chinese Poker) when I was 8 years old and we were vacationing in France. My brother and parents went to the Lido (or was it the Moulin Rouge?) one night, and we didn't/couldn't go, so we passed the time while we were stuck in the hotel room.

With friends, I remember learning 7 card stud when I was about 12.
 

abby99

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I learned hand rankings and basic games like 5-card draw and 7-card stud in the back of 5th-grade math class. The details have been long forgotten. Yes, it was during class. I was bored.
 

shorticus

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My grandma taught me how to play 13-card poker (a.k.a. Chinese Poker) when I was 8 years old and we were vacationing in France. My brother and parents went to the Lido (or was it the Moulin Rouge?) one night, and we didn't/couldn't go, so we passed the time while we were stuck in the hotel room.

With friends, I remember learning 7 card stud when I was about 12.

13 card poker? WOW....can't wait to google this.
 

Kidsthesedays

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My grandma taught me how to play 13-card poker (a.k.a. Chinese Poker) when I was 8 years old and we were vacationing in France. My brother and parents went to the Lido (or was it the Moulin Rouge?) one night, and we didn't/couldn't go, so we passed the time while we were stuck in the hotel room.

With friends, I remember learning 7 card stud when I was about 12.
Hmm in Chinese poker are 2s high? I played this a lot growing up also
 

upNdown

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Hmm in Chinese poker are 2s high? I played this a lot growing up also
My buddy from Canada keeps talking about a kind of Chinese poker he used to play, that is different from the Open Face that most people are referring to, these days. Maybe you Northerners do things differently.
 

Yellowfin

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Hmm in Chinese poker are 2s high? I played this a lot growing up also

I believe the game you're referring to is called "Tien Len" (not really a poker game). This is an amazing game and was our go-to cash game before tournaments back when I still lived in Michigan. Taught my poker friends how to play this and to this day they still play it.
 

AH77

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Playing Omaha at the lunch table in high school with no blinds or antes (so essentially no reason to ever bet unless you had the nuts) and still somehow making profit at the end of the day. Back in the golden age of ‘04 when nobody knew how to play and you could get an edge by just basically reading the hold em section in Super System. Now there’s probably a 5 year old somewhere playing 4-8k talking about merging his range and running a solver in his head.
 

Kidsthesedays

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I believe the game you're referring to is called "Tien Len" (not really a poker game). This is an amazing game and was our go-to cash game before tournaments back when I still lived in Michigan. Taught my poker friends how to play this and to this day they still play it.
You're right. I just always described it as such. Happy new year!
 

JMC9389

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My first memories were of my grandfather teaching me five card draw when I was 7 years old. No chips, but would "play" for a piece of hard candy (that he supplied anyway) that the high hand would win. I was hooked and had my parents, grandmother, and later on, my younger sister all playing with us, playing for hard candy. I liked it so much that I even forced my other grandparents (whom are from and reside in Portugal) to play with me when they would fly back to the US for the holidays. I'll never forget my other grandfather whom would play some hands straight, but would start to play tricks as soon as he lost a couple of hands in a row to me. One hand, he takes only one card, and flops over a boat with Aces and Kings that he had been storing up his sleeve over the course of the last few hands by distraction and sleight of hand. Guy didn't and still doesn't speak a word of English but in that moment we shared a laugh that I'll remember for a long time.

Next phase was some friends and I getting together at each other's houses and playing NLHE with our allowance money (usually $10) with dice chips. This continued through college when we were still poor and broke students. We'd play only occasionally after college, as most of us had gotten real jobs and were trying to navigate weddings, funerals, and new kids.

I found the Friday Night Poker Series scrolling through Facebook a year and change ago and that inspired me to get my own game together again, which led into me looking for a nice set of chips, which led me to finding this place through Google, and the rest is history.

My first grandfather passed away almost three years ago due to aspiration pneumonia resulting from dementia due to years of alcohol and valium abuse (he hadn't been eating properly for weeks before he finally aspirated), and my other grandfather is still hanging around but not doing well, also with diabetes and dementia. The possibility that there's a good chance that I will encounter the same fate if I make it to my 80's is terrifying. It's absolutely horrible to say, but I'm hoping I die before I literally lose my mind. @Davism72 's post really struck a chord with me. Thank you for sharing.
 

Josh Kifer

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Oi. I'll reply to this with the understanding, it's bad parenting.

My dad and I used to just play five card all day when I'd see him. We would sometimes drive 200 miles south to a little shit hole town in Northern NV called Jackpot. One resort, one casino. That's it.

We, once and a while, would drive down there, he would toss me a deck of cards, and I'd shuffle and play with the cards for 4-5 hours while he did blackjack.

Now, horrid parenting, I'd say. But, I'm going to that exact casino in 2 weeks to play 1/3 all night. So, it holds a place in my heart. Hence the two new custom sets....
IMG_20200130_164503.jpg
 
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Highli99

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I never really played poker as a kid, although I have learned my father did because my grandfather lived to play. My Dad told me he got In trouble in second grade playing poker with other kids for milk money. My Dad no longer plays and is very much the opposite of degenerate in all ways. I take after my grandfather I guess.

I started playing around 2000 in college. A group of four of us would play $10 tournaments. One of the guys would only play if we bought in for him. Me and another player covered his buy in because it sucked playing with only three people and he was so bad we always won it back anyway. Also, he would get so mad every time he lost it made for high entertainment. Eventually that grew into a regular weekly game I organized through homepokertour.com.

My own kids will be taught poker as soon as possible - I want them having memories of learning 30 years from now.
 

pltrgyst

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As I recently posted in another thread, my parents used to play poker every Saturday night with two neighbor couples. The game was 3 cent / 6 cent limit poker;. Everyone had a coffee can full of pennies. 5 card draw, 5 stud, 7 stud, no wild cards except for an occasional round of 7 stud with the low hole card wild, or follow the queen.

I got my own coffee can for pennies at age 8, in 1954. Been playing ever since...
 

APatHand

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My older sister encouraged me to learn to play poker when I was visiting her in Las Vegas in 1995. She said that playing against other player rather than the house was the only real way to win.
I started off playing no ante, $1-$5 spread limit 7-card stud in the casinos there after reading the book "7 Card Stud; The Waiting Game" by George Percy. (Still an excellent introduction to 7-card stud, IMO.)
I never got to play against her.
 
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