The Poker Game

HIMYM episode 9x05 (189)

The Poker Game (8)
First aired:
October 14, 2013
Pamela Fryman
Dan Gregor
Doug Mand
Barney's Blog

Images (14)

When Barney is forced to pick sides in a fight between Robin and his mother, Lily coaches him on how not to ruin his relationship. Meanwhile, Ted and Marshall get into a dispute over wedding gifts and thank-you notes.


On Friday at 6:00 PM, (48 hours before the weddingBarney, Ted, Robin, LilyJamesMarshpillowTim Gunn, Ranjit, and Billy Zabka continue to play poker. All but Barney, Robin, James, Billy Zabka, and Ranjit fold before long. During the later stages of the game, Robin dares James to wager his own wedding ring over his frequent jabs against getting married. Robin wins the ring, but James later brings his mother Loretta into the mix to try to force her to give it back. As a result, Barney is torn between siding with his mother and brother or Robin (who defeats Loretta in a round of strip poker and gets her special blouse). Lily counsels him that in a marriage, saying that the husband always stands by the wife - "Happy wife, happy life." This prompts Barney to declare that he's severing his ties to James and Loretta after realizing that they're both selfish, but claims Robin ordered it so.  Lily is visibly displeased at Ted's plans to give Barney and Robin three wedding gifts. Future Ted says her anger stemmed from Ted's apparent failure to give them a wedding gift six years before; Marshall repeatedly signaled Ted about it ever since (even as he was about to get married to Stella). When Ted is interrogated about the present, he insists that he sent them a coffeemaker as his gift but also dropped his own hints for Marshall to acknowledge it. Lily discovers that Ted never got a thank-you note because Stuart passed it off as his present; he claims the item further strengthened his marriage to Claudia. Ted reconciles with Marshall by placing an order with their old Chicago pizza place Gazzola's and having a delivery man send it to Marshall as he and Daphne pass through Chicago. Future Ted says he received a thank-you note from Marshall four months later.

Loretta lets Robin to keep the blouse, but warns that she's not yet finished with her.


  • Loretta Stinson was last seen in The Bro Mitzvah.
  • Claudia was last seen in Baby Talk, while Stuart was last seen in The Over-Correction.
  • Naomi (the Slutty Pumpkin) makes a very brief cameo during Ted's "thank-you note" scene with Marshall at the Halloween party. The Slutty Pumpkin was introduced in Slutty Pumpkin.
    • Ironically if Ted wasn't so hung up on his "thank you note" costume and wore his hanging chad costume again and was paying more attention he would have run into the Slutty Pumpkin four years before he actually did in The Slutty Pumpkin Returns.
  • Apparently Naomi (the Slutty Pumpkin) did wear the same costume each year. At a minimum she wore it three times (2001 when Ted was wearing the hanging chad, 2007 when Ted was dressed as a thank you note, and 2011 when she reconnects with Ted.)
  • Marshall and Ted took a roadtrip to Gazzola's in Duel Citizenship.
  • Marshall describes the Gazzola's pizza similar to the way that he described the burger in The Best Burger in New York.
  • Robin uses the word "literally," which she has said numerous times in the past. (Spoiler Alert)
  • Stuart and Claudia were shown to be having problems in Bachelor Party and Baby Talk.
  • Ted gave Robin a picture of the gang in The Locket.
  • After Claudia lists the things she started doing when she decided to leave Stuart she says "the whole nine" afterwards. Jeanette previously said "the whole nine" when she planned to break up with Ted in Weekend at Barney's.
  • In the flash back to Marshall and Lily opening their wedding gifts (which can be assumed to be a few weeks after their wedding), Marshall has a patch of hair missing straight down the middle of his head, a reference to him shaving it it in Something Borrowed.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Ted mentions that he has two other gifts, which foreshadow later events in the season. One of Ted's other gifts is Robin's locket, although he eventually decides that it would be better for Barney to give Robin the locket.
  • Ted will give Barney and Robin the other two wedding gifts in The Rehearsal Dinner and The End of the Aisle.
  • Barney says that Lily does look a little fat, around the hips. We learn that she is actually pregnant in Daisy​.
  • Lily kneeing Barney in the groin after Barney's honeymoon shows that he and Robin do get married as seen in The End of the Aisle.
  • Cassie will step on the toy car which was left by a little boy on the stairs wen Lily was talking to Marshall in The Lighthouse​.
  • Barney will give James his ring back in Gary Blauman.
  • William Zabka will try to sabotage Ted so he can become the best man again in Mom and Dad.
  • Robin and Loretta's conflict will also be resolved in The Lighthouse​.
  • Ted says that he is the master at wedding gifts, which is later mentioned in The Rehearsal Dinner and Sunrise.


For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category: The Poker Game images.

Memorable Quotes

Barney: James, let me spell this out for you: now that I've got Robin, we are not brothers anymore.
Robin: What?!
Barney: Uh-huh. If you and Robin are both ever hanging from a cliff and I have one hand free, enjoy the fall. Uh, buh-bye.

If you (Loretta enters the room) Oh, Mom! Good! You should hear this, too. This mother-son thing-- it's over. It's been a nice few decades, but I've got a wife now, so you mean nothing to me.

Oh, and me coming over for Thanksgiving and Christmas, that's done! No more of that! And you know why? Because Robin said so! This came directly from her! See ya, losers!
Robin: Oh, my God.
Barney: Yeah. Fiancee of the year? I think I know what's next.
Robin: Oh, God. Oh, God. I can't leave this room for the rest of the weekend.
Barney: I'm sure we can find something to do, eh?

James: Glad you came to your senses. You can't let being married keep you from being you. It's like Tom, always telling me I spend too much time at the gym.
Barney: Exactly. Is it so wrong if you want to work out a couple times a week?
James: Right. Or a couple times a day.
Barney: Or a couple times-- A couple times a day? Really?
James: A few hours before work, a few hours after. Only way to keep up the chocolate xylophone.
Barney: Still, that's a lot of time at the gym. Especially with two kids.

James: Hey, I'm hungry. Should we get some bluffalo wings? Raise you 20.
Loretta: When I walked in I saw an all you can eat bluffet. Raise 50.
Barney: Hmm.... I could use a bluffberry muffin--A blueberry bluffin--Sorry, a blue bluffy muff bluff. All in!

Ted: I just love giving wedding gifts. I love giving wedding gifts so much I wish I could marry giving wedding gifts and then get myself and giving wedding gifts, a wedding gift! Maybe saying things like that, that's why I'm not married...!!

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • Zabka, Ranjit, and Lily were clearly seen leaving the room in one shot, but in the next shot they somehow all managed to hide somewhere completely off from the door without anybody noticing even though Barney and Robin were still present the entire time. 
  • Ted was living with Marshall and Lily when they got married, so it's implausible that he wouldn't have known about the wedding gift confusion as soon as it occurred. 
  • When Lily confronts Stuart about the coffee maker, Stuart grabs conditioners off of the housekeeper's cart, At first they are cap side up and when it flashes back to him they are cap side down. They also change direction once more when Lily tries to tell the housekeeper about Stuart stealing the conditioner.
  • When Future Ted mentions his engagement to Stella, a picture of a wedding invitation appears on screen with Ted and Stella's names.  Ted and Stella's decision to get married was a last second decision since they took over the wedding of Stella's sister after her breakup with her fiancee, so it's unlikely there would have been enough time to print invitations. It is possible that it was an e-Invite sent via email.
  • In The Stinson Missile Crisis, a flashback photo shows Lily, Marshall, and Ted's 2007 costumes were C-3PO, R2-D2 and the robot Luke's uncle almost bought from the Jawas. Here in the 2007 flashback, Ted is a 'Thank You' note and Marshall is a wedding present.
    • While it's unlikely that Ted and Marshall would have had multiple Halloween costumes in a single year, it's not impossible. At one party they wore the Star Wars costumes, at the rooftop party they wore the gift and thank you note costumes.
    • It's also possible that the flashback photo was not taken at Halloween and was just a costume they wore to another party sometime in 2007.
  • After Robin wins the hand where she and James bet their rings she is shown putting her ring back on, but a moment later as she starts to stack her chips the ring is not there.
  • When Lily kicks Barney in the flash forward from after the wedding; when he came back from his honeymoon in Belize, Lily would supposedly be in Italy, so it doesn't make sense that it happened.
    • Lily had only just found out she was pregnant so she wouldn't travel until safe and honeymoons only last a week or two. So they probably waited and hung out with Tracy and Ted

Allusions and Outside References

  • Lily’s Halloween costume is referencing the 2007 comedy-drama film Juno, “Home-Skillet” being a quote used in the film. She was dressed as Michael Cera's character Paulie Bleeker and Marshall was apparently supposed to dress up as the titular Juno MacGuff in a gender-bending duo.

When Ted says "Ah coffeemaker" instead of "a coffeemaker" Ithe is a reference to Wayne's World when Wayne says "I don't even own ah gun." in response to an anniversary gift from his ex-girlfriend


  • Nocturne In E-flat Major, Chopin Opus 9, No. 2 - G. Schwarz, C. Arrau, I. Biret, C. Zongyin, Le Chopin Rassembler

Other Notes

  • When there's the flashforward to after the honeymoon, Barney has changed his hairstyle and Lily is in New York; as established in Daisy, Lily and Marshall move to Italy for a year, so they must not have departed until after Barney and Robin's honeymoon.
  • Actor Neil Patrick Harris was one of the stars on "Celebrity Poker Showdown" where celebrities play Texas Hold'em Poker for their favorite charities. Neil's charity was the American Red Cross. He won his first game (against Chevy Chase, Shannon Elizabeth, Kathy Griffin, and Donny Deutsch), but lost to Mathew Perry in the game the various winners played for the grand prize.



  • The episode was viewed by 7.98 million people[1]
  • Donna Bowman of The A. V. Club gave the episode a B-.[2]
  • Max Nicholson of IGN gave the episode a 7.3 out of 10.[3]
  • Angel Cohn of Television Without Pity gave the episode an N/A, stating that he now believes that the writers genuinely hate the characters on the show, and that the show is becoming increasingly un-watchable.[4]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 8 out of 10 stars. "...Marshall wants Chicago pizza..."


External Links

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Start a Discussion Discussions about The Poker Game

  • "The Poker Game" Discussion Thread

    13 messages
    • there was a scene where barney is back from honeymoon...that indicates that he did get married...also,ranjit said that he saw stuart & clau...
    • I don't know why the writers are doing this to the characters from previous seasons. Giving them bad light, I mean they did it to james, t...