Last week's scuffle between the Grizzlies' Tony Allen and O.J. Mayo on a team flight sparked questions about Mayo's future in Memphis. It raised another question too: What the heck is Bourré? The Cajun card game at the center of Allen--Mayo has become popular among NBA players looking to pass time on long flights. In the game, players compete for pots by collecting tricks, trumping other players with cards of varying value. "It's like poker and spades blended into one game," says Lakers forward Lamar Odom.
It's easy to see why Bourré (pronounced boo-ray) has become so popular. It's inclusive (up to eight players can ante up), involves simple strategy (players fold or play, based on what cards they think others are holding) and lends itself easily to high-stakes wagering. Pots in Bourré games among NBAers have been known to grow to tens of thousands of dollars. "Guys were taking my money for a year," says Lakers forward Luke Walton. Ever think about quitting? "No," Walton says with a smile. "It's addictive."
Addictive and volatile. With so many variations in play, disputes can arise over the rules. Last year the Wizards' Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton got into such an argument, which eventually led to the two brandishing guns in the locker room. Tempers can flare over a big pot. The Grizzlies fight came after Allen (top) took Mayo for more than $1,000. Those incidents have led several teams—including the Wizards and the Grizzlies—to ban all gambling on team flights. "I told my guys if they read a book, that would be good," said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins."