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Top-10 places for a spontaneous poker game

28 July 2014

By Aaron Todd
Suffering a bad beat at the poker table can be frustrating, but not nearly as frustrating as being stuck in traffic.

Drivers stuck in traffic in Los Angeles discovered a great way to pass the time last Friday when one of them pulled out a table, cards and poker chips and started a game with other drivers bogged down on the road with him.

Kudos to whoever thought of the idea. There's nothing worse than waiting, and I believe there should be more spontaneous poker games to pass the time. In addition to traffic jams, here are 10 other great locations to set up a quick poker game.

10. Post office
It's amazing how long it can take just to buy a book of stamps. Set up a poker table in the lobby of the post office and see if you can get a round in before it's your turn at the front of the line.

9. Pharmacy
How long should it really take to count 30 pills and put them in a bottle? Apparently longer than it takes me to count to 30 with my three-year-old twins. If you do set up a poker game at the drug store, keep in mind that with all the senior citizens that are likely to be in line with you, the game may be a complete rock garden.

8. Halftime/intermission
I love going to sports games as much as the next guy. Breaks in the action can be a good time to visit the concession stands or hit the restroom, but with commercials slowing down the action even more, there can be plenty of down time during the game. I'm pretty sure that if sports teams set up poker tables — even without real-money play — they'd find plenty of takers during halftime or intermissions. Hockey would be a prime candidate, too. Have a six-max turbo shootout, with the first round after the first period and the winners playing the next round at the second intermission. Then, you could play the final table after the game.

7. Hairdresser/barbershop
Depending on when and where you get your hair cut, you could find yourself waiting for 30 minutes for a haircut. Set up a poker table in the lobby, and people won't mind the wait. You can even keep playing once you're in the chair if the chairs are set up in the right way. Hey, it has to be better than the banter you usually trade in the chair.

6. Train/subway
I've always found trains provide a relaxing atmosphere and I think poker would work well on a train. The bonus of a train is it's generally a pretty smooth ride, so your chips and cards aren't likely to be sliding around as much as on an airplane or a bus.

5. Airport
While poker with chips may be a bit tough on a turbulent flight, I've actually played poker at the airport before. When Ryan McLane and I first started writing for Casino City, we were on our way home from the Become a Poker Pro tournament, where I had won a set of poker chips in the media tournament. So of course, while we were waiting to board, we started playing $.25/$.25 heads-up pot-limit Omaha. It was fun to see how horrified most of our fellow passengers were, especially as we decided to pass on boarding until the last possible moment so we could continue the game.

4. Movie theater
I remember when movie theaters didn't have anything up on the screen before the trailers started playing. Nowadays, theaters try to distract you with advertising, pop-up facts, trivia about movie stars and pop-culture and other annoying material. If I get to the theater early, I'd much rather play a quick poker game than watch that nonsense.

3. Hospital
There are some hospital visits where a poker game may not be appropriate, but other occasions make perfect sense. Awaiting the birth of your first grandchild? Why not start up a poker game with other grandparents-to-be? Waiting for the surgeon to finish the arthroscopic surgery on your kid's knee? Poker is the perfect distraction. So long as it's not a life-threatening situation, I see no problem with starting a poker game while you're waiting at the hospital.

2. Disney/amusement park
Forget the VIP passes that allow you to bypass the lines at Disney. I just want in on a poker game. As I get older, I've found that a poker game has more thrills and causes less of an upset stomach than amusement park rides, anyway.

1. DMV
Everyone hates waiting at the DMV. No one said it better than Dane Cook did nearly a decade ago, in the routine embedded below. If officials with state DMVs want to lower the stress level in their offices, they would do well to start up some poker games for the people waiting in line.


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Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.