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Poker Became the New Pogo Stick.

As TV made poker a spectator sport, everyone got in the game.

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Blame it on ESPN2 and its countless hours of World Series of Poker. This year, poker became the pastime of choice in every social stratum, giving New Yorkers a new reason to practice their dead-eye stare. Here, four regular games around the city.

Photo Credit: Reuben Cox

The Doctors’ Game
These Mount Sinai doctors, medical students, and researchers squeeze in a few hands of no-limit Texas hold ’em between drawing blood and making rounds (that means on their own time, of course). Players routinely cut out to check back on work. “If you’re running an experiment, you just leave and come back,” says Jason Mastaitis. “Scrape some cells. Spin them down. Run a gel. Then get back in the hand.”

Photo Credit: Reuben Cox

The Ladies’ Game
No smoky, louche Runyon-esque scene here: Instead, it’s a Tribeca loft filled with fresh flowers, tasty snacks, sparkly city views, and a chalkboard noting the hierarchy of hands (THREE OF A KIND BEATS TWO PAIR). The organizing force is Toby Bochan, a lifelong enthusiast who got the group together as a way of coping after dumping her fiancé. She’s now written a book, The Badass Girl’s Guide to Poker, due out in May from Adam’s Media.

Photo Credit: Reuben Cox

The Wall Street Game
Phillip Meng hosts a weekly no-limit game of Texas hold ’em for fellow traders and financial analysts in his Tribeca apartment, with a $50 buy-in and a potential take of $300. It’s not just a hobby, says Meng; the game teaches useful skills like game theory, decision-making, and calculating probabilities on the fly. And, of course, any good Wall Streeter has gambling in his blood. As one regular says, “If I’m bored, I’ll bet $50 on a coin toss.”

Photo Credit: Reuben Cox

The Kosher Game
Brothers Darren and Chad Chervitz host a weekly game of “whore’s poker”—anything from wild card to seven-card stud—plus a Texas-hold-’em tournament for a sprawling contingent of brothers, cousins, second cousins, and friends. It’s a casual game, with no set buy-in—and no pork rinds, naturally. “The Old Testament doesn’t take a stand [on poker],” says regular Gary Belsky. “Most rabbis will tell you it’s okay as long as it doesn’t lead to other vices.”


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