Saturday, July 12, 2014

WINNING WAYS a short story

“Dallas Hustead,” he said to the officer. “You already know that.”
“Do you understand the charges?”
“Hell, I’ve been gambling all my life. “Of course I know I was cheating’.”
“You’re admitting to it. That’s a new one,” the officer said.
“I’d like to see my attorney,” Dallas said, as he put his hands behind him for the officer to snap on the cuffs.
This was clearly the worst day of his life.
If there was anything Dallas hated worse than loosing at poker, it was loosing to Eddie Elkins. The stupid kid had beat him twice on the World Poker Tour, and robbed him of the coveted gold bracelet, not to mention over four and a half million dollars. The kid was a better player, Dallas had to admit, but that wasn’t what was eating at him. Dallas had written the book on Texas Holdem and it had sold over twenty thousand copies the first week it was on the shelf. He was one of the best. He knew the odds, could calculate the risk in his head, and wasn’t afraid to go “all in” when the cards were in his favor. Luck didn’t enter into the equation. Luck was for suckers. Dallas put a finger to the hearing aid in his right ear to turn down the background noise. There was only one reason the kid had beat him. The kid was cheating.
Dallas began to reflect on the moments before the officer had appeared.
He stared down his opponent with his steel blue eyes, he knew Eddie hated being called the kid. The kid painstakingly worked at making himself look older than his twenty-three years, had grown a mustache and goatee and dressed a little more conservatively for this high stakes match. He knew, he was thrilled to be playing across from him. The kid had read all of his books and would do anything to beat the master at his own game. There was only one problem. When he reached the final table, Eddie had only one third the chips that he had and it was a tremendous disadvantage in heads up play. The kid would have to call in a trump card if he was going to beat the master this time. After all, he was somewhat of a celebrity, a poster boy, if you will, for the younger set who were playing internet poker and watching the big money games on TV. He couldn’t let the master get the best of him at this point in his career. Dallas watched as Eddie glanced over at him giving him a wry smile, a tactic he’d picked up from his book. In fact he’d mastered all the principles Dallas had so eloquently outlined in his book. Eddie lowered the bill of his Raiders cap and straightened the dark glasses to make sure his eyes were not visible. He knew that straightening his glasses was considered a tell. Though it didn’t matter. He had set Dallas up from the time they had started the high stakes game. He could tell by the way Dallas fingered his chips that he didn’t have the hand to back up his massive bet. But he didn’t have to rely on the tell Dallas was giving him. He knew Dallas  only had a pair of deuces. Dallas had told him, by the tell. A million dollars in the pot and Eddie was about to call.
Dallas tipped up the corners of his cards. Stupid, he thought. This pair of deuces isn’t getting any bigger, but it didn‘t have to.  Dallas knew the only way he could lose this hand would be to fold. He had the kid right where he wanted him, holding an ace high with most of his money in the pot. He quickly scanned his opponents stack of chips and determined if he lost this hand it would be all over. There were no more buy ins allowed.
Dallas mucked his pair, knowing full well it was the winning hand.
That was when the security guard descended on him and placed him under arrest.
“You let him win?” the attorney asked, clearly not believing the story.
“Didn’t I just say that,” Dallas said. “There wasn’t any way that runt could have beat me except for what I did.”
“But why?” the attorney asked, still not believing.
Dallas leaned back in his chair, his eyes fixed on the attorney. “I had to. That’s all I’m going to say.”
“I don’t understand it, but  I’ll try to get you out on bail,” the attorney said.
“That will be fine,” Dallas said.
As he walked out of the county jail, he saw his daughter get out of a car. She ran to him. “I want to press charges.”
“It’ll only make matters worse,” Dallas said. “ He doesn’t know it, but the next time he comes up against me, he’s going to get a dose of his own medicine.”
“You’re going to  kidnap his daughter?” she asked.
“No, his new bride,” Dallas said. “The kid has broken all the rules.”