Monday, March 8, 2010

Poking at Poker

When you think of "poker", what do you think about?

I'm trying to sort this out in my mind, so bear with me here.

I get this image in my mind of a smoky bar, and people crouched over a table, whiskeys in hand served by a gal named Dinah.

The reason I'm asking is because not one but two reputable Christians that I know not only admit to playing but actually say they enjoy playing poker and allow their children to play with them.

Why does this not settle with me? Is Poker a card game like any other card game? Or is it instinctively more addictive? If you are playing a game for fun (and not for gambling) is it wrong?

I'm not an avid card player. For the most part, I think they are a waste of time. But I have not thought of all cards as any worse than let's say... playing monopoly.

Or is it my reputation that I'm worried about?

I can see it now.. Joanna has just started a courtship with some fabulous fella from some fabulous family. And they ask her,
"So, what does your family enjoy doing together?"

"Oh, we love to play poker!"

Start the smoky bar images in their minds. They now imagine Joanna's mother and how she must look. Big blonde hair, too tight jeans, bulging cleavage, holding a whiskey. Name is Trixie.

Yeah. You see? It's just not what I want to happen, OK?


LaVonne said...

Well, I don't play poker. I just didn't see the fun of it. There are so many other fun cards games out there. But I have noticed it becoming more mainstream lately, and more of a family fun time. But, I have seen the addiction of gambling (not necessarily the same as playing family poker for fun)in my own family and I just don't think we will teach my daughter that game. She will be raised with an understanding that our money is really God's money. Hopefully she won't find gambling fun at all. :)

Just some of my thoughts. Thanks for stopping by my blog today!


sara said...

Judging it just on its own merits, I think it's just a card game like any other. If it's the gambling aspect that makes you uncomfortable, remember any card game can be betted on. Actually, anything, game or otherwise, can be gambled on.

That said, very few of us are betting on Go Fish. I also think of it a little like a Romans 14 issue. For me personally, it probably would not cause me to stumble, but it still makes me uncomfortable because I have a brother with a gambling problem.

Because of that, I'm a little protective of my kids when it comes to games like that. NOT because there is anything inherently wrong with poker, but because there is cultural baggage, including gambling, that goes with it. And yes, if a poker-playing young lady is in the running for one of my boys, I will triple check to make sure it is not an addiction and that she does not partake of any of the yuck that is sometimes associated with it.

By the by, I remember loving to play pool when I was a teenager - and I nearly gave my mother a heart attack with that one.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Ooo, you renegade! You forgot to mention your muffin-top and the tattoos.

Actually, my dad grew up playing poker (as a family) for match-sticks, or something similarly worthless. Just for the fun of it, and nobody has developed a gambling addiction.

But they do play an absolutely ruthless game of pinochle. Heck, they'd revert to Swedish to "sneak" information to their partners when they were playing in pairs - I'm sure of it!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

And you probably need TWO names, Trixie-Mae.

Becky said...

For some reason, the first thing that came to my mind when I read the title of your post was a fireplace poker. A card game is just that, a card game - unless your betting on it, then it doesn't matter what the name of the game is, it's gambling. I totally agree with the point that it's okay if you treat it as any other card game, unless you are with someone who has a problem with gambling, then it would be putting a stumbling block in front of them to make it seem like it's okay. But, to tell the truth, I don't play it. We prefer card games like SPOONS and UNO.

Kristi Lea said...

I grew up with a gambling addict for a grandmother and the stories I've heard of what she put my mother and her brothers through, just blew me away. I have never step foot in a Casino since I turned 21, and I don't ever intend to. With that being said, my husband and I play poker for fun, even with chips, just no real money. We play the Hoyle casino games on the computer too. We are avid fans of about any game, but especially card games. I personally don't see ANYTHING wrong with playing poker for fun and no money involved.

We are pretty strict Baptists, and we go to church will many even stricter folks. I know some who look down upon poker cards, no matter what they are being used for, but they are also non judgmental about what other families decide to do. I do think it's important not to be a stumbling block for others, but at the same time, we all have to make our own decisions for our own families.

Mrs. Parunak said...

Hmm. Poker. Definitely cultural baggage there, but is it worse intrinsically than other games? I suppose you could say that it is worse because you MUST bet in order to play (even if it's just Poker chips that you're betting), so maybe it gives people a taste for gambling. But then, does Monopoly give people a taste for ruthless capitalism? Does chess give people a taste for war?

I grew up playing poker with my parents from time to time (never for anything other than poker chips), and I never thought that it might be evil or dangerous in some way. I think I would have to decide against a lot of other games, too, if I decided Poker was evil.

Organizing Mommy said...

Trixie-Mae here, O.K. I did not realize that you must "bet" in order to play. That does make it different, in my mind. I grew up playing "21" when my folks were heading to Vegas for the first/last time. It was more like a math game.

Thanks for your input--it really does help!

Christy J. said...

HI Organizing Mommy,
I want to email you but cannot find where to do that. Could you email me so I can contact you that way? I am a homeschooling mom and strive to be organized but fail miserably!
Christy Jusino in Illinois

Kristi Lea said...

Actually, there are several ways to play, and you don't have to bet to play. You would if you were playing the "real deal" but friends of ours, and my husband and I often play poker without chips or anything of the sort, and no betting. We just deal the cards, draw what we want, and the best hand wins!

Dawn@Finding My Way at Home said...

We are a family of card players. I grew up playing setback, rummy, gin, etc. DH is more of a poker and texas hold em player. Cards and board games as well are always part of our family get togethers - stakes are from the change jars (or for the kids comprised of pretzels and/or M&M's). I actually think in our family playing cards has taught everyone math skills, strategy and sportsmanship.

But yes there are a lot of gambling issues out there that have poker and sports betting at their center. So I can fully understand someone finding them 'seedy' or inappropriate in that context.