Last night we started our sixteenth year of Pokeno. On September 28, 1994, 12 women from the Brook Highland Subdivision in Birmingham, Alabama, got together for the first time to play Pokeno. I was not at the first meeting, but I joined the group at the second meeting in October. I've been playing ever since.
Pokeno was introduced to us by Cheryl, who had moved to our neighborhood and had played in a Pokeno group in Louisiana. Cheryl has since moved to Little Rock, and other members have come and gone, but we're still playing every month on the fourth or fifth Tuesday.
Pokeno is played with a set of special cards, a deck of playing cards and poker chips. The idea is to cover five spots in a row with poker chips, vertically, horizontally or diagonally, much like Bingo. When one person gets a Pokeno, that hand is over. However, along the way you can get points for other things--four of a kind, center, four corners, etc.
Our group keeps up with points by accumulating toothpicks. We each chip in $5.25 to play, and at the end of the evening first place wins $25, second place wins $15 and third place wins $10. If we have enough players, we also award money for last place (Boobie) and for blackout, and if someone Pokenos in 12 cards or fewer, she wins the quarters.
At one point Luna bought a second set of Pokeno cards, which came with rules. It was then that we discovered that we had not been playing by the "real" rules but rather by Cheryl's rules. We still play by Cheryl's rules.
Early on most of us had small children, and they would always ask, "Did you win?" as soon as we got home. And if you won the quarters, you could use them for the kids' "juice" money for school. Now many of us have grandchildren and we don't worry about "juice" money anymore.
When the group first started, the hostess would fix a whole bunch of snacks and serve soft drinks, iced tea and wine, both white and red. Later we found that making a light dinner was easier than trying to come up with a lot of appetizers. The soft drinks and iced tea disappeared as well, because everybody mostly drank wine.
Now we enjoy an evening of dinner and wine and catching up on each other's news. As Luna often says, it's our night of Gambling, Gossip and Grazing.