I invited a new guy to play only to discover he has dementia

DrStrange

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I invited a new guy to play in my low stakes game. I have known him for twenty year but not isolated from his wife the last ten years. As the night progressed it became painfully obvious that he has dementia - perhaps not enough to require special medical care but bad enough.

So what should I do about letting him come back? I have postponed talking to him about the game. Could be he isn't interested anyway. But I would like some ideas before opening up the conversation.

This is a $20 cash game. But you can still lose a couple of hundred dollars in a night. That isn't going to break the guy but it is significant enough. I am sure his wife will not appreciate a $2,000 / year gambling loss.

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upNdown

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Any chance you’re overestimating the severity of his condition?
Any chance he has good days and bad days and you caught him on his worst day?
 

Josh Kifer

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I invited a new guy to play in my low stakes game. I have known him for twenty year but not isolated from his wife the last ten years. As the night progressed it became painfully obvious that he has dementia - perhaps not enough to require special medical care but bad enough.

So what should I do about letting him come back? I have postponed talking to him about the game. Could be he isn't interested anyway. But I would like some ideas before opening up the conversation.

This is a $20 cash game. But you can still lose a couple of hundred dollars in a night. That isn't going to break the guy but it is significant enough. I am sure his wife will not appreciate a $2,000 / year gambling loss.

Opinions?
Honestly, I wouldn't address it unless he asks. If his condition is as you say it is, most likely he won't remember that as a "recent" activity to ask about.

But I think a call to his wife and playing it off but informing might be the decent thing to do.

I'd text in my group and say "he seemed exhausted and spaced out, was he feeling okay?"

It initiates the conversation without dropping any bombs. Let's you know if a flag exists of an issue or maybe a valid reason, and if not, gives the wife a heads up to maybe pay attention.

Just my way I'd do it.
 

JMC9389

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I'd just leave it be. If the dementia is as severe as you're making it out to be, it may sound crass, but he may not even recall your game and may not even ask about it again. It's not nice to let someone that doesn't have all of their faculties play a game that may involve a decent sum of money. All it takes is one dishonest player to significantly take advantage of him.
 

Nanook

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I would for sure reach out to his wife. If she gives the green light then I wouldn't give it another thought & try and take his money just like anyone else. If she doesn't know he's playing or if she isn't comfortable with him playing at the stakes you are playing then you should come up with some strategy to keep him out of the game without making him feel bad.
 
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upNdown

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I'd just leave it be. If the dementia is as severe as you're making it out to be, it may sound crass, but he may not even recall your game and may not even ask about it again. It's not nice to let someone that doesn't have all of their faculties play a game that may involve a decent sum of money. All it takes is one dishonest player to significantly take advantage of him.
Forget about somebody taking advantage - if it’s that bad, it would ruin the game. How are you supposed to play cards with somebody like that at the table? You don’t WANT to take his money, but you’re playing poker - what the hell else are you supposed to do?
 

LotsOfChips

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I play in a group where something similar happened. One older gentleman was clearly confused, folding repeatedly when checked to, not sure what to do when the action came to him, not knowing what hand he was holding. It was painful to watch, and painful to play in that game.

I asked the host, and she didn't seem concerned, just said that he was a semi-regular and he must have been tired and it was past his bedtime (09:30 pm). It was a microstakes tournament ($2 "toonie tourney" with unlimited rebuys), so it;s's not like the guy would lose the rent money, but still I'm glad that he hasn't been back since.
 
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JMC9389

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Forget about somebody taking advantage - if it’s that bad, it would ruin the game. How are you supposed to play cards with somebody like that at the table? You don’t WANT to take his money, but you’re playing poker - what the hell else are you supposed to do?
Right, which is why I just wouldn't mention it and just not invite him back.
 

BNM

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Even if this isn’t official dementia, @DrStrange is a reliable source, and if this guy is not in full command of his faculties then he shouldn’t be in the game - for a variety of reasons. If you know the wife, I guess you could ask, but if you knew her well enough wouldn’t she have said something? How’d the guy get to the game? Just don’t invite him again? Alternately, if he is paisan, then drop stakes and understand that this game isn’t for you, it’s for him.

Tough situation.
 

Schmendr1ck

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Forget about somebody taking advantage - if it’s that bad, it would ruin the game. How are you supposed to play cards with somebody like that at the table? You don’t WANT to take his money, but you’re playing poker - what the hell else are you supposed to do?
I play in a group where something similar happened. One older gentleman was clearly confused, folding repeatedly when checked to, not sure what to do when the action came to him, not knowing what hand he was holding. It was painful to watch, and painful to play in that game.
I've told a similar story here about an older gentleman with a younger caretaker who came into my local poker room and sat at my table one night.

It became quickly obvious that he didn't know what was going on. The game slowed to a crawl, he had to be prompted on every single action, and he would just throw in a call whenever anyone at the table told him to. I think he believed we were playing blackjack - no joke.

Eventually he was asked to leave, and the rest of the table breathed a sigh of relief. I didn't want to tangle with him because it didn't feel right, and he slowed the game down so badly that a couple of players racked up and went to different tables.
 

DZPoker

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Part of me hopes that when I’m old and more feeble a group of people will still let me hang around them for a couple hundred dollars a night, just to feel like I’m still part of the group, even if I don’t remember it later.
There’s a lot of truth to this. For me, figuring out how much this was ‘his one thing that makes me feel normal’ would matter. If he’s ok and the wife is ok, I’m ok. Many spend a few grand a year on A B or C with nothing to show afterward. It wouldn’t bother me if he can afford it and this is his ‘what makes me feel normal’ thing. If this was sacrificing his/her lifestyle though, or as others have said really is ruining the game…then I have to evaluate.
 

CrazyEddie

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His condition will get worse over time.

Possibly slowly, possibly very quickly. But it's not going to stay like it is now, and it's not going to get better.
 

allforcharity

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On the one hand, this could be a lot of trouble because he could easily be taken advantage of. Some unscrupulous person or persons could really try to fleece him if there isn't some hard limit on how often he buys in.

On the other hand, perhaps the game is one of the few activities that enhances his remaining quality of life, and the stakes are small enough that it doesn't matter one way or another. If it gives him joy, and a sense of social belonging, and everybody isn't being a jerk about it, then maybe it's good enough for the price of admission.

I work in Palliative Care and Neurology. I've seen enough to know that when things are inevitably going bad, quality (not quantity) of life is all that matters.


Another perspective: maybe as his constant caregiver, his wife could use the break for a little time for herself when he's at the game, and the inevitable bit of gambling loss is money well spent for her own emotional well-being.
 

DrStrange

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Once upon a time, something like forty years ago, I played in a moderate stakes game in Houston. The players were high income and/or high net worth so the money really wasn't a big deal.

One of the players was a famous doctor, but he was in a not-so-gradual decline. He got so bad that he though a flush was all red or all black cards and would bet accordingly. < for what it is worth, he had a car and driver to bring him to the game and take him home. >

We decided to talk with his wife and she told us this. Yes, he is in a bad way and getting worse. The lost money is meaningless, they had made a fortune so a $20,000 / yr gaming loss was not an issue. Thing is, this poker game was the last "normal" activity he could still do. The guy looked forward to it as the high point of the month. If we could find it in our hearts to let him play with us, she was perfectly fine with his losses.

Just a few months before he died, the Poker Gods smiled upon the guy. If he went all-in, anyone with a hand wanted to be in the action to get the easy money. But this one session he ended up winning something like $3,000. His wife thought we had thrown the game - she wrote us a note saying that was one of the happiest days in this guys life and she was eternally grateful for our kindness.

My new guy isn't nearly so bad. But he also isn't a huge poker player either
 

Nanook

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Your story about the Dr 40+ yrs ago is exactly why I said that I would talk to the wife and as long as she is good with it then invite the guy back. Sometimes the wife does not know and would be furious and other times the wife knows and she is actually in favor of it because of exactly what you said... Poker brought joy to this guy when not much else would and the money is meaningless..
 

Forty4

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There’s a lot of truth to this. For me, figuring out how much this was ‘his one thing that makes me feel normal’ would matter. If he’s ok and the wife is ok, I’m ok. Many spend a few grand a year on A B or C with nothing to show afterward. It wouldn’t bother me if he can afford it and this is his ‘what makes me feel normal’ thing. If this was sacrificing his/her lifestyle though, or as others have said really is ruining the game…then I have to evaluate.
Could also be a break for his wife. Probably worth more than the $100 he might lose. Not being crass that could be her prospective he gets a night out she gets a night of not worrying if he is going to burn the house down by turning on the stove.
 
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