A couple of posts ago, I mentioned that I would be trying to play in some home games during the week, when I am somewhat reluctant to make a trip to the casinos because LA traffic is at its worst and casino poker is a bit slower. Since then, I've played in four home games, and they seem to be a waste of time. Three of these games I was invited to by Aaron. The fourth game was actually at my apartment, with some of Brigid's friends from the UCLA Statistics department. The main problems are that the games are too small and too slow.
My friend Alex has commented to me that he doesn't think he could be a pro poker player because he can't stand the other poker players at casinos. Personally, I kind of like interacting with the people at the poker tables. Often, they are people who I would never otherwise interact with in anything resembling a social manner, and frequently they are actually interesting and more friendly than I would have expected. Meeting new people every day keeps things interesting. On the occasions when they are obnoxious, I have no qualms about ignoring them or telling them off. I can then focus on the game instead.
Ideally, in a home game, I won't encounter obnoxious people, because they are all friends of friends of friends, but I haven't really found this to be the case. My friends are pretty agreeable and so are their friends, but this can easily break down after another iteration or two. Also it's not uncommon for a competitive game like poker (which also involves money) to bring out the worst in an otherwise amiable person. Since I'm a guest in someone's home, I don't feel right ignoring or arguing too much with obnoxious players in home games, as I might at a casino. Worse, the games I've played in are played at such a slow place and for such low stakes that the games can be tedious even when I generally like the other players. This is the case for the game with Brigid's friends; I feel like I spent most of my time pointing out whose turn it is and then explaining what their options were.
I suppose that if I found a home game with high enough stakes, it could be worthwhile, but in that case I might be worried about the security of my winnings. Home games also can be worthwhile if you enjoy the company of the other players (as with Aaron Orange County game), but then it's more of a social event, not a substitute for actually earning money at a casino. If were willing to make a 3 hour round trip to Orange County, I think my time would be better spent going to the Commerce.