The Game #51

The cards were shuffled and dealt again.  The blinds were now at five-hundred and a thousand, Edward was back on the big blind and the button.  The cards hit the felt and Edward left them face down.  Darius was first to act.  He pushed a stack into the pot without comment and let Kenny announce the bet.

“Six thousand”.

Edward looked at his hole cards; queen of diamonds and the three of clubs.  In heads up play, aces and faces were always good.  Edward called the bet, stacking the chips firmly in the center of the table.

Kenny burned the top card and flopped the next three onto the felt.  The nine of clubs, four of hearts and the six of clubs.  Not much of a flop for Edward, but probably not much for Darius either.  Edward would have to ride it out and see where it went.  Darius checked his hand and Edward checked behind him.

The turn card was the three of spades, giving Edward a pair.  A pair of threes with a queen kicker; Edward would have folded except that Darius had checked the last hand so it was costing him nothing to stay in at this point.  Darius bet a thousand, the minimum.  Value bet, or the start of a trap?  Edward called without raising and waited for the river card.  Darius had shown himself to be capable of a hight level of deception and Edward had no desire to go down that road again.

The river card was the three of hearts.  Edward had three of a kind, but the pair on the board opened up a large number of possibilities for Darius.  If he had started the hand with a set, the pair gave him a full house.  He could have made a straight as well if he had played a five-seven, though that seemed unlikely.  Edward waited for Darius to act.

“Five thousand”, Darius announced the bet and set the chips down in the center of the table with more force than usual, Edward noticed.  A bluff or semi-bluff?  Darius had started with a strong bet before the flop, but had checked afterwards.  Now he was betting strong on the river.  Had the pair on the board improved his hand?  Edward ran all of the hands back through his mind.  When the idea hit him, it almost knocked him off the stool; Darius had a weak hand or was bluffing altogether.  Edward could not have explained how he knew this, but his gut told him he was right.  He could go over the top and force Darius out, but better to call timidly and continue his charade.

“I call” said Edward, flipping over his cards to show the three of a kind.  Darius showed a nine-four, two of a kind.

“Three threes is the winner”, Kenny announced and pushed the chips to Edward.  As he stacked the chips, he was starting to see a pattern.  Darius had made his hand on the flop, yet he had checked it.  That was exactly the way he had played the last hand.  He was trying to disguise his hands and draw Edward in, then back off and see if Edward came back strong.

I’ve got your number now, Darius.  Edward almost let a smile turn up the corners of his mouth, but years of discipline prevented him from doing so.

“Well played, Mr. Teraneau”, said Darius.  “The river seems to be bringing you good luck.”

Edward looked briefly at Darius and replied with a taciturn “Yep”.  He made sure to knock over one of his chip stacks as he added the pot.  He wanted Darius to think he was struggling and that this win was totally unexpected.

The cards were collected, shuffled and dealt.  Edward looked at his cards.  The first one was the ace of diamonds; excellent.  The second was the ace of clubs.  Edward’s heart starting pounding in his chest.  He had seen aces cracked in many hands, but rarely in heads up.  This was it, his chance to get the hell out of this nightmare.  He had to play this just right and make sure Darius came along for the ride.


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