I Like Gorillas
to win at poker when everyone’s cheating and there are
three large men standing in front of the only door out of the room.
When I say “everyone’s cheating,”
I mean including me.
Over the past four hours, I’d palmed a few Aces which had come
in handy, and I’d used the Memphis Slide once, so I was up a couple of grand.
know why the gorillas at the door hadn’t just taken all our
money, but then again, I didn’t know who they were with.
Maybe I shouldn’t call them “gorillas”.
None of them seemed to be nearly as intelligent as a gorilla. I like gorillas. More gorillas,
fewer people, if you ask me.
I think that Vinny and Eleanor, the only people
I knew at the table, had finally figured out this was all a scam by the time someone said
it was midnight. Funny phrase “midnight”. Middle of the night to me is about
three or four or five, any time before the sun starts.
Vin and El and I had exchanged
skeptical looks about ten, and now we just smiled forlornly
at each other. No one else knew we knew each other. Between the three of us, I thought
we had enough fists to get past the wannabe gorillas if things went south, but I wasn’t
sure of that.
There were four other players. It took me a while to figure out who
was connected to whom. I thought that the old bald guy David was in cahoots with
the young blond Kyle, and that the scrawny red-haired Bobby was in it with the middle-aged
woman who said she was a countess. Are there actually countesses anymore? I didn’t
think about it a lot because she may have been even though she looked more like a woman
I used to know who lived in a trailer park.
Anyhoo, I’d seen Kyle give David a card
that had filled a flush, and the Countess had once dropped her cards on the floor along
with her cigarette and her potato chips which Bobby had helped her pick up, and the result
was the Countess won the hand with four Kings.
So when the next hand was ready to go, and the
Countess suggested unlimited stakes, and the three guys at the door shuffled almost in
unison, I knew crunch time was coming.
I’ve never understood why Texas Hold ‘Em
has become the game of choice. It’s probably due to its being on TV all the time
and that’s the only game some people know. I miss draw and five-card stud. I even
like Stop. So, when I realized that the goons belonged to the Countess, I said, “How
about a game of High Chicago?”
In case you don’t know, High Chicago is
a seven-card stud game with the twist that there’s a split pot. Best poker hand splits
the pot with the highest Spade down. At the end of all cards being dealt, you declare whether
you’re going for the best poker hand or the high Spade or both. If you go for both,
you have to win both. Two down, four up, one down, you bet after every card starting with
the third card.
(You can also play Low Chicago – lowest Spade in your hand –
or High Chicago, substituting Clubs, Diamonds, or Hearts, but that just seems to me to
be something you do when you’re drunk.)
El said, “High Chicago’s a great game!”
Vin said, “I like it.” The Countess said, “I’ve been to Chicago.”
So that seemed to seal it. Four out of seven.
It was El’s deal. As she dealt, I went over
the rules of the game. “Yeah, we know,” said David. I didn’t know why
he was speaking for everyone else. I wondered if the other four were all in this together.
My first two
down cards had no Spades; I had the Queen of Clubs and the
Jack of Diamonds. I looked at the other players. The Countess flinched slightly. She had
a Spade for sure.
The first card up for me was the Ten of Spades. Straightening. The Jack
and Queen of Spades also came out in others’ hands. The Countess revealed a small
smile. Did she have the Ace of Spades? At least, she must have had the King. Or maybe she
had the Nine or the Eight. At this point, who could tell? Maybe Bobby had passed her all
four of them.
The bets were reasonable. No one folded.
My fourth card was the King of Diamonds. I was
seriously straightening. I needed only a Nine or an Ace to fill a straight. I bet a grand.
Bobby folded. Vinny folded. El folded, which surprised me
because she was the dealer and I’d assumed she was cheating.
The Countess raised a grand. David called. I felt
good and raised another grand. They both called.
The fifth cards came out. Nothing
useful for me: Six of Diamonds. I checked. So did they.
Apparently nothing for them either. Same with the sixth cards, for me the Eight of Clubs.
And there was
the seventh card, down. I got the Four of Clubs. No use at
bets were made. I was pretty well oblivious by this point. I raised a
couple of times. So did they. After a while, we got tired and called. There was a pile
of cash in the middle of the table I couldn’t have begun to know how to count.
And then it came
down to Declaration. “Pick up three coins, people,” said
Eleanor. “One for high Spade, two for poker, three if you’re going for both.
Show them. Palms up.”
David showed two coins. The Countess showed one coin.
I showed three coins.
David had three Queens, and I don’t know
how he’d managed that considering I had the Queen of Clubs in my hand and the Queen
of Spades was face up on the table in front of the Countess. I suppose that happens sometimes
in friendly poker games like this one.
The Countess had the King of Spades in her grubby
As I mentioned before, I’m good at palming
cards. I had the Ace of Spades. Straight ahead. I had to find a paper bag to carry
Eleanor gave the gorillas a thousand dollars, and we left in peace.
Bill Kitcher’s stories, plays, and
comedy sketches have been published and/or produced in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Canada, Czech Republic, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, Nigeria, Singapore,
South Africa, and the U.S.