Like many people--young and old-- resident Bob Aitchison grew up playing cards. And for 94-year-old Aitchison, that means he first learned how to play cards in the early 1900s.
“I’ve been around cards most of my life,” said Aitchison, who is one of the top players participating in the Grosse Pointe (SOC) SOC-IT-TO-ME POKER program. “I was in World War II and played cards during that time. My parents were great card players, too.”
Most recently, Aitchison is known for his prowess at the poker table, claiming the monthly championship among his many other victories at the SOC poker tables.
“This is a game of both skill and luck, like most card games,” he said. “When you’re playing for points it’s a lot more competitive.”
About 30 men and women participate in the ongoing poker playing at SOC. And like Aitchison said, the players compete for points, not money. They each pay $3 entry fee, of which $1 goes to the house and the rest is used for supplies and prizes.
Tournament Director Harry Burkey, of Grosse Pointe Woods, proposed the idea of teaching poker at SOC back in 2009. After receiving approval, he held a presentation, attended by five people, one of whom was Aitchison.
“He and four others joined me the next week for a tournament and lesson,” said Burkey, who runs the tournaments on Mondays and lessons on Thursdays. “It took me nearly a year to prove to everyone that it wasn’t gambling and would never be."
“Tournament poker is not gambling but rather a competition until the last person has accumulated all the chips. There have been as many as 30 players competing in a tournament. While I did all the dealing at first, it became evident that I also had to teach everyone how to deal and handle the chips.”
Aitchison is the first to endorse poker playing as a way to keep the mind sharp and enjoy weekday afternoons.
“Harry is a great instructor,” Aitchison said. “I’m probably one of his oldest clients. But it’s nice to have a hobby. It’s something challenging to do--challenging and competitive without being gambling.
“Playing poker will take your mind off of all your aches and pains. You do a lot of mind-searching when you’re playing, so you don’t have time to think about anything else!”
The current SOC location is on the third floor of the at 159 Kercheval. To learn more about the poker program or other activities, email or call Susan Kopf at 313-882-9600, extension 242.