If you're going to gamble like NBA players, know these rules

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I haven't played much poker in my life, or played it well, but there are some basic gambling lessons everyone should know.

And I don't just mean the rules of the game you're playing, but etiquette to keep it somewhat friendly and from anyone having to be investigated by the police for having a gun where it isn't supposed to be, as NBA player Gilbert Arenas is doing.

Arenas and Washington Wizards teammate Javaris Crittenton were playing the card game bourre, also called boo-ray, a game similar to poker that combines some of the grade school card game War. The players had a dispute over the game, according to various reports, and Arenas supposedly refused to pay Crittenton a debt from the game.

Bourre is a Cajun card game popular in Louisiana, and isn't played in casinos because players often have their own set of rules, according to a blog at Washingtoncitypaper.com.

That's my first informal rule for playing a serious card game:


Know the house rules.

"There might be five guys at the table together, and if they're all playing together, they might have five different sets of rules," Preston Guidry, the author of the 1988 book "Official Rules and Techniques of the Cajun Card Game Bourre," told the Washingtoncitypaper blogger Andrew Beaujon.

Whoever's house you're playing at should set the rules. If you're in a chartered jet after an NBA game, then the player who started the game should probably call the rules.

Bring cash.

One rule of bourre is that if you don't take one of the game's five tricks, you must put as much money into the pot as is already in it. This can get expensive, even for people like Arenas, who is in the second year of a six-year, $111 million contract with the Wizards, although he isn't getting paid now since NBA Commissioner David Stern has put him on indefinite leave.

Yahoo Sports reported that Arenas refused to pay the tens of thousands of dollars he owed Crittenton in the bourre game. Unless you're at a casino where a pit boss can get you a quick loan, come prepared with cash if you're playing cards for money.

Don't taunt.

No one wants to be taunted, and it's especially galling that Arenas taunted the man he owed money to. Taunting someone you owe money to is a bad mistake, which is a lesson you'd think anyone who has watched The Sopranos would know.

The taunting included a smiling Arenas threatening to blow up Crittenton's car, and Crittenton threatening to shoot Arenas in the knee. Bad form on both sides. As I tell my kindergartener, "Just because someone threatens you with a gun, doesn't mean you should threaten them."

Leave the guns at home.

This final lesson should go without saying, but for any future NBA players out there, it bears repeating: Leave your guns at home. Unloaded and locked away.

Two days after the Dec. 19 card game, the argument moved to the locker room, where Arenas left four unloaded handguns out for Crittenton to pick one and shoot Arenas with, according to the Washington Post.

Ever the gentleman who didn't want to use someone else's gun, Crittenton grabbed his own gun, loaded it and chambered a round, according to the Post.

If you're going to try to settle a card game dispute, do it with your fists. Or yell. Or leave the room. But don't bring your gun. It will only lead to trouble, as the fun-loving Arenas will hopefully explain is his new book due out May 4.

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area who can be reached at www.AaronCrowe.net
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