My group of friends played Texas Hold 'Em, tournament style, so nobody ever lost more than $20 bucks. It was an opportunity for the guys to hang out together once a month, eat junk food, play some cards, and talk about guy stuff. It was really the only time I got to see most of them, so when Poker Night ended, so did my interaction with the group. Friends became acquaintances, and later, people I used to know.
So how did gambling ruin our friendship? It didn't. It was NOT gambling that ruined our friendship. Due to religious reasons, we all decided to give up gambling altogether. (for the most part) Without a monthly game to bring us all together, everyone sort of went their separate ways. While girls have a plethora of reasons to congregate and talk any day of the week, there are very few events that can mobilize a group of guys together to do the same thing.
Here's a phone call you'll never hear:
Me: Hey Joey, what's up?
Joey: Not much, what's going on?
Me: Hey, I was thinking. Why don't we get the guys together this Friday night at my place.
Joey: Sounds great. What for?
Me: Oh, you know, to talk and eat snacks.
Me: No! I just thought it would be cool to hang out and get to know each other better.
Joey: Ah, I think that's my other line. I'll get back to you.
As you can see, there are very few reasons guys can get together for an evening without appearing gay. Now, if we were gay, this would all be a moot point, but alas, we're not.
Sure, there are things like video games, watching sports, and BBQ's that sufficiently qualify as non-gay enough to warrant us hanging out. But there are two problems with these:
1. Most wives/girlfriends want to come
2. Even if they don't want to come, most wives/girlfriends won't give the "ok" for these activities.
For some reason, only "Poker Night with the guys" elicits a green light from the ladies for their guy to have a night off. At least that's how it was with our group. I'm still single, so this was never a problem for me. But since most of my friends and my friend's friends are married, Poker Night was one of the few times I could hang out with them. Giving up playing Poker (which I loved) was tough, but giving up my friends was even tougher.