The Game #49

Edward sat down at the table and looked over at Mary.  Again, he was troubled by the fact that there seemed to be no source of illumination anywhere in the room.  The ceiling of Mary’s cell was smooth and showed no signs of a fixture or even reflected light.  There was no glare on the window, either.  The thought was beginning to become unsettling and Edward had to push it from his mind as Kenny was ready to deal the next hand.

Edward was on the button and the big blind.  He dropped six-hundred dollar chips into the pot and waited for his cards.  Now that he was across from Darius rather than next to him, he might get a better read.  Darius put in the small blind as Edward turned up the corners on his hole cards; pair of jacks, hearts and spades.  Almost a slam dunk in heads up, but after the last disasterous hand, Edward was not going to assume anything.

Darius was first to act.  “Five thousand”, he said, sliding the chips into the center of the table.

Edward had not expected Darius to lead off with a bet that size.  Did he have kings or aces?  Edward studied his face, then his hands, looking for some sign that would give him an idea of what Darius was holding.  The man had a very calm demeanor.  His hands were folded on the table in front of him and his eyes were looking back at Edward as if they had been friends forever.  He was not quite smiling, but there was something about his mouth that implied a smile was not far away.  He had at least one strong card, probably an ace or a king, but Edward did not feel it was a pair.  His gut told him that Darius would have slow played anything stronger than pocket nines.

Jacks were a strong starting hand, so Edward called the bet.  He waited for the flop, not wanting to see any over cards that might pair whatever Darius was holding.  The three cards hit the felt; ten of diamonds, eight of clubs and the queen of spades.

Damn!  That queen could be a problem. thought Edward.  Darius would be first, so Edward could do nothing but wait.  Edward had a gut shot straight draw, four nines out of forty-seven cards, an eight point five percent chance.  Not odds on which Edward would bet the farm to be sure.

“Check”, said Darius, tapping the table in front of him.  Edward breathed a mental sigh of relief.  Either Darius had missed his hole cards, or he was trying to set a trap.  Either way, Edward could get to the turn for free.  He tapped the table to check as well.

Kenny burned the top  card and laid the turn card out on the table.  The jack of diamonds stared up at Edward giving him a set.  It also made it far more likely that Darius had hit a straight.  Edward waited for Darius to bet.  To his utter amazement, Darius checked again.  Edward studied him.  Was there a hesitation there, a twitch?  If Darius had been bluffing or had missed hitting one of his hole cards, then Edward was in a perfect position to take down some of his chip stack.  And if Darius was slow playing…. if he had a set of queens or the straight, then it could cost Edward.  In the end, he opted for a value bet.

“One thousand”.  Edward pushed his chips into the center.  Darius would not fold a solid hand and might even bet a small amount on a bluff.  Darius paused and studied Edward as though trying to get a read on him.

Good luck with that, thought Edward.  Edward’s opponents over the years would have told Darius that getting a read on him was nearly impossible.  Edward either froze solid and unmoving, or he was as animated as a hyperactive kid in church.  There was no correlation between his hand and his actions, the best Darius could hope for was a lucky guess.

“Call”, said Darius after a minute or so.  He slid the chips across the felt instead of picking them up.  Hesitation?  Edward couldn’t be sure.  He had not raised, so it was likely that his still had not made his hand.

Kenny dealt the turn card, the six of spades.  Edward did not hit the straight, but his set of jacks were likely the best hand.  He waited for Darius to place his bet.


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