With maturity comes responsibility and sometimes, the responsibility factor can spoil the fun. But just because we have bills to pay, doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun- fun doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, if anything at all. What’s more, ‘living in the sticks’ or more pointedly, living outside the city means there isn’t a whole host of entertainment on our doorsteps so sometimes it’s a case of making your own.
To mix it up a bit, this last Saturday we hosted a poker night at our home. My boyfriend Chris is an avid poker player; he loves going to the casino to play in tournaments and even sat at a game on our recent trip to Vegas (until he got too drunk to concentrate- alcohol is free in the casinos!), so amongst the newbies at the table there was at least someone who knew what they were doing. It also meant we had chips and cards which is, essentially, all you need to have a poker night.
For snacks, we got a whole host of food from the new American range, courtesy of M&S (they also gave us some of the UK ales to try too). Normally when we host nights in, even if just for drinks, we always put some snacks out- this normally entails lots of mess in preparing snacks and lots of clearing up. As the American range entails cooking (emptying the food onto baking trays), I was expecting to do more washing up than usual but actually there was significantly less to do (2 baking trays and 3 plates, that was it!). Aside for the ribs (already covered in a BBQ sauce), they all came with their own little sauces and the portion sizes meant they were great finger foods. All I had to do was transfer the food from baking tray to plate, cut the ribs and hand out paper towels- it really did take any stress out of hosting and left lots of room for just relaxing and actually enjoying the night! What’s more, it was really tasty and not dry (as some reheated food can be), I could have got away with saying they were homemade (why didn’t I?). There was lots of appreciative mm’s coming from everyone, we all highly recommend giving this range a try- particular favourites were the creamy mac and cheese bites, breaded mushrooms (personal favourite, pretty much devoured them!) and the ribs. For those of you that like a spicy kick, the stuffed jalapeno peppers will do it for you (a firm favourite for Andy and Chris), just a little too on the hot side for me. We also got to try the mozzarella dippers but sadly, I couldn’t seem to make them gooey (possibly in too long, oven too high scenario- if you try them and manage it, let me know your secret)- how do TGI’s do it? Make sure you click on the images to gallery format WARNING– your mouth will water!
Poker games, as you may be aware, can last forever. As we had to be conscious of time, we predetermined the blinds (blinds are forced bets posted by players to the left of the dealer button in the form of small and big blinds) based on the number of chips available, this was 1800 per person. We then outlined times per session, for example:
Although we’d run over on some hands, inevitably it evened out. Within an hour, Kylie (who’s played poker previously) wiped the floor with us and her mound of chips was proof. Was it skill, luck, all a bluff? Throughout the game it was a mixture I think but that’s all part of the fun, you never really know what the other players have or are thinking.
Rather than playing to a strategy, I always go for luck. Inevitably, I see a 3 and 5 and think a flush will come and keep betting until the last card is turned, usually unsuccessfully but occasionally my luck comes up. Though you can be sure I’m never in a game for long.
Whether because we got a bit silly on the betting (we only bet with chips not actual money or prizes) or there were some very skilful players at the table, we managed to play 3 games- which ordinarily never happens. I appreciate I am speaking for everyone when I say this but it seemed to be a pretty successful night- it was a lot of fun with a lot of laughs- another night is already on the cards (pun intended!).
If you’re interested in playing at home, here is what you need to know in terms of hands:
|Royal Flush||Is 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace in the same suit (e.g. Hearts)||The best hand but also unlikely to come up|
|Straight Flush||e.g. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 in the same suit (e.g. Hearts)|
|4 of a kind||e.g. Four 3’s|
|Full House||Is 3 of a kind and two pair|
|Flush||Is Five of the same suit|
|Straight||e.g. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5|
|3 of a kind||e.g. three 3’s|
|Two Pair||e.g. two 3’s and two Jacks|
|Pair||e.g. two 3’s|
|High Card||e.g. King|