The Game #50

“Two thousand”, Darius said as he pushed his chips into the pot. 

Again, he slid them across the felt rather than pick them up.  The amount puzzled Edward again.  If he was bluffing, surely he would have come on with a stronger bet.  What could he have that the six would have improved?  Edward kept running his thoughts over and over  in his mind.  If Darius had played a seven-nine, the six would have given him a back door straight, but a five thousand dollar bet on a seven-nine was either a very gutsy or a very foolish bet.  Edward could feel Darius getting to him.  The circumstances were certainly part of it, but there was something else.  Edward was starting to feel like Darius was just toying with him, that he had been one step ahead the whole time.  Edward took the least damaging course of action and simply called the bet.  If he won, he would have Darius against the ropes, and if he lost, the damage would be minimal.

The two men flipped over  their cards and Edward saw that Darius had been holding the ace-king of clubs, giving him an ace high straight.  What Edward realized was that Darius had made his hand on the turn, but had checked.  He could have easily made a small bet and Edward would most likely have come along for the ride.  Not only was Edward struggling to get a read on his opponent, he was having a hard time figuring out the man’s game.  Most players had a certain rhythm to their play, almost similar to a dancer’s moves.  So far, Darius had not been consistent in any way.  Edward had to give him credit, he was proving himself to be quite the poker player.

There was a short rumbling sound and Edward glanced nervously at Mary’s cell.  The water only rose a few inches before it stopped.  Darius was ahead of him in chips now, about forty-five hundred or so.  Now, any loss Edward suffered would put Mary more at risk, unless he could get his lead back. 

One hand at a time, Edward reminded himself.  That was something his mentor, Joe “Aces Up” Sheldon had drilled into his head when he was still learning the game.  It took Edward a long time to understand why Joe had chosen to take Edward under his wing.  Joe had been in his late sixties back then and Edward hadn’t been old enough to legally get into most of the card rooms in which he played.  Joe’s health had been deteriorating and he knew his days were numbered.  He had taught Edward everything he could for nearly three years.  Joe lived just long enough to see Edward win his first bracelet before his heart gave out and he had died in his sleep.

The thought of Joe picked up Edward’s spirits a bit and he refocused his attention on the game.  OK, their stacks were about even and Darius was surely thinking he had rattled Edward.  No reason to let him think otherwise, thought Edward.  If Darius wanted to read him, Edward would be happy to oblige.  Darius was no fool, he wouldn’t fall for anything over the top, but a few subtle hints might work to Edward’s advantage.

Kenny finished shuffling the cards and dealt them to the two men.  Edward was now on the small blind and would be first to act.  That suited him just fine.  He checked his hole cards; ten of clubs, seven of diamonds.  Perfect, actually.  Edward bet the blind and waited for Darius, who checked his option.  The flop hit the table; king of diamonds, two of clubs and the queen of hearts.  Edward checked, Darius bet two thousand.  Edward made a small show of re-checking his cards quickly, stared at the flop for nearly a minute before tossing his cards into the muck.  He made sure to flick his cards a bit harder than normal, sending them skittering across the table past Kenny.

“I take it the hand was not to your liking, Mr. Teraneau?” Darius said.

“Part of the game, can’t get winners every hand”, Edward replied, making sure there was just the slightest edge in his voice.  He glanced at Darius as though taking offense to the question.  There it was, the slightest hint of a smile. 

Off to a good start, thought Edward.  Let the games begin.


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