A Smith & Wesson Beats Four Aces
Hot shots eh? I say let the DICE do the talking!
It's about one in the morning. Closing time for the Amethyst. I get a call from Dean inviting me over for a light game of poker. ' You should know that Benny G. is here.' he warns. Damn. I still owe Benny G. about $170 from September's 'light game of poker' when he had the winning streak from Hell. Every one of the boys owed Benny at least a hundred bucks that month and we'd scurry away like cockroaches to a flashlight at the very mention of his name. Poker games were held in secret for a while and we'd be prepared to turn off the lights and hide under furniture at a moments notice should he happen to visit us unannounced at three a.m. but it seemed all that was going to be resolved this early morning.
There are two groups of people that I regularly play poker with. The first group I'll call the Amateur League that comprises of ex-bar staff Miko, his housemate Smiley and Phil who is the token guy who comes in halfway through the night to lose all his money. The stakes are never very high and even if you have a good night your winnings only translates to a cab ride home and maybe a chicken schnitzel sandwich for lunch the next day. The other group is the Croupiers. All are gambling-crazy current and former croupiers at the Crown Casino who spend much of their lives taking the last dollar out of people's wallets, emptying their bank accounts, stereos get hocked, seeing marriages disintegrate, families crumble, hair pulled out, children sold into slavery, kidneys auctioned and think: I could be that guy. A casual visit to any of the Croupiers may result in a spot of random gambling where we bet on what the secret ingredient is on the Iron Chef and somebody ends up driving away in a loser's car (this actually HAS happened before, though not with these guys. The stakes got stupidly high between two brothers playing cards and one of them placed his car keys onto the pile of money. He lost the hand and his ride.)
I get to Chimp's apartment, a mere five minutes' limo ride from my work, and proceed up the stairs to his room where the lads have been spending the last few hours making each other poorer. Debts settled, I sit down for several hours of berating, haranguing, yelling, near fistfights, drinking and even a bit of cards.
The game du jour is Texas Hold 'Em which has risen in prominence these last few years thanks to films like Rounders and TV shows where celebrities like that snotty kid who played Spiderman and the former Mrs.J-Lo play amid the glitz and glamour of a Vegas casino. It's strange to think that even three years ago playing card games until the sun came up would make you a social pariah, a hideous skunk at gatherings. But thanks to the Hollywood cigaratti the image of tubby men with sunglasses smoking their lungs black and sipping warm beer is starting to dissipate. Which sucks for us.
I like poker because it reveals the true nature of your character. Everyone has an attempt at a poker face (looking like we're figuring out complex sums without use of abbaci) and the mountain of chips migrate from one end of the table to another but the way we play tends to be fairly unique. Doug-Ray, who wins thousands of dollars on horses, bets weird number of chips that make you question his hand. "Cool Hand" Chimp bets in EVERY hand so you never know if he actually has anything. Benny G.'s tactics is to win every hand which usually pisses everyone off (not a good night for the lad however, as he owed about five hundred by the end of night). Dean makes smart ass comments all night long which will make players like Craig throw his cards in the air and leave the building. Paul smiles constantly, makes pleasant remarks, acts stupid ('Is this a good hand?', 'That's a straight flush.', 'Is that good?', 'Shut the f-ck up you son of a bitch!') and bets heavily which means that he only needs a few hands to fluctuate from really rich to can-I-borrow-money and back again. I shuffle cards in a way that causes everyone to duck for cover and win hands due to sheer ignorance.
Seven in the morning. Beers are all drunk, the sun is up, the trams are now running and have a handful of yawning passengers on their way to work. We cash in our chips and figure out who owes who. Another infant day is about to begin and I plan to spend most of it sleeping.
Know when to walk away, know when to run,