Poker Style: Food and Drink
We already know the host of a poker home game has the advantage when it comes to controlling subtle details like background music. Feeling confident because you’ve tuned out the sound and reached for that whiskey sour? Step back and smell the proportion of whiskey to sweet-and-sour liqueur. If the ratio’s 90% alcohol to 10% sweet-and-sour mix, look away from your host’s smiling face to their cup. Don’t be fooled by that lemon on the side; it’s plain Jane water.
Alcohol and poker go together like peanut butter and jelly, but that doesn’t mean the combination doesn’t get sticky. There’s a reason Vegas casinos hand you free drinks while you play—the more you drink, the more you bet. Moreover, the more you drink, the less you can maintain your poker face, so many players stay sharp with a swig of water between sips of their favorite cocktail.
Fortunately, poker parties pair alcohol-absorbing carbs with drinks, so you’ll be able to keep your buzz in check. But before you dip that quesadilla in salsa, make sure it’s not packed with MSG, which makes you sleepy. And if you do feel sleepy, whatever you do, don’t grab an energy drink. At first, guanine may seem like your best friend. You’ll feel like you’re thinking faster and intensely focused. But then, a few reckless games later, the high level of sugar will just leave you jittery and jaded. Choose—or better yet bring– the guacamole dip when you’re next at a poker party. Avocados offer a healthy energy boost without a crash. Also, if you deep-fry avocados, the carbs will absorb your alcohol content. It’s a win-win.
There’s even a high profile BBC game show, Food Poker, that capitalizes on the relationship between poker strategy and cooking skills. Hosted by British personality Matt Allwright, the 45-minute show, centers on 4 chefs being dealt 2 cards along with 3 shared cards, which feature ingredients instead of suites. The chefs then have to decide whether that hand of cards will make a winning dish and pitch—or fold. Those who pitch their food idea go before the food panel who give chefs poker chips according to the strength of their hand/deliciousness of their potential recipe. The two advancing chefs receive one more card before they begin a 20-minute cook-off. That card must be the central ingredient (often a meat) of the dish they’ve already elected to make. The two losing chefs vote on the two competing chefs’ dishes, and the host votes if there’s a tie. The show features much of the banter, face-reading, and strategy of poker so it might be a fun way to pair your interest of poker with your love of food next time you have some friends over to play.
Food and drink choices can play an important role in your poker strategy at big tournaments or even on reality shows like Food Poker, but in the comfort of your own home, you can eat, drink, and yell as much as much as you want without losing face. Your online poker face won’t reveal you, you can buy free drink gifts for friends without spending a penny, and best of all, you can play with Hollywood celebrities.