Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Over the phone came the words I dreaded to hear. We didn’t talk long as the fat man did not like telephones. At least, this time I didn’t have to travel very far. The game was to take place in my adopted home, Babylon. It was game time. All I had to do was beat four of the toughest pros in the world to get at the real live money. What was left unsaid is that the game would primarily be limit hold’em. Kick butt high hold’em. Nosebleed section. Not for the feint of heart here. Check your blood pressure at the window. Was this the place for a former golden boy, one-day surefire star, who stumbled with an illness that took it all? The fat man thought so. I downed the first of my pills and stumbled into the night in the lost city of Los Angeles.

The fat man was nervous. The room was alternately cold and warm. I just had taken my second anti-nervous breakdown pill and was waiting for a rebirth of wonder.

Actually, I was waiting for anything including godot. If he showed up then the scene would be complete. It was time for one of our walks but it was really freaking cold outside. The last time we had walked in such weather was in Tahoe a long time ago and we both came down with some outrageous poker related illness. Too sick to get out of bed, I called a physician right out of the yellow pages. Haughtily, he replied that he didn’t make house calls. Haughtily, I mentioned a fee. He was there thirty minutes later. Twelve hours later I was back at the table. Twenty-four hours I was back home in Vegas. Thirty-six hours later I was in a hospital. And fifteen years later I am in this house game in Los Angeles losing our collective assets.

The fat man comes up to find me looking at the space where all our money has been replaced by some very expensive green felt and a lot of pain. So I’m staring and he says something about going outside to do something which is our daily code for lets take a break and figure this out.

I am thankful for the walk. Before my second anti-nervous breakdown pill I had imagined the fat man coming out to the mound.

“How you doing kid”?

“Im okay, I know I can get out of this Situs Judi Online24Jam Terpercaya 2021

“You’re lobbing melons up there.”

“I’m telling you I’m fine.”

“I don’t think so kid. We’re going to go with someone else. Go grab some bench.” Then he turns and signals with his right arm and at steady pace comes a younger version of me. But it isn’t me. It is someone else. Someone better.

We go outside into a not supposed to be freezing night in Los Angeles. We walk up to the limo the fat man took from Vegas. He motions for the driver to follow us, which is weird since we are in an exclusive neighborhood. Till I remember about the money the fat man is carrying and that the limo driver is more than a driver.

I start. He knows most of it. He knows all the players except the real rich guy who was invited by an equally rich guy. Everyone else he knows one way or another. The fat man knows everything. He even knows why his horse is losing. At least he thinks he does. That is the purpose of the walk. He becomes my father, my coach my confessor. We break down my mechanics. Drop and drive he says. Lock and load say I.

I’ve lost before, but this time I feel the magic slipping away as if the chimes have been loosed in the world and the magic is being drained away. I can feel something. It is almost tangible.

I start again. The Vegas kid is beating me bad. I can’t get a read on him. He is playing me as if he is looking at my cards before he does anything. Did you do the drill the fat man says? I had. I took a tour around the room looking at the wall, the rugs, anything where there might be a camera. I felt under the table. Changed the cards more than is my want. Still I felt something was wrong.

The young guy from California was beating me. Every time I bet he just looked at me as if to say “nice try.” The Asian pro from Vegas was beating me. The Asian pro from Los annals was beating me. The rich guys were beating me. We were down six figures deep. I realized that I had never been stuck this much in my life in anything I had ever done.

We go through the ritual though there is nothing superstitious about it. It just always happens. I start. Best player? The fat man thinks for a second.

“Chip Reese.” He always says Chip Reese. He always takes the chalk. I don’t argue though because he’s right. Any game I say?

“Remember that movie about Jim Thorpe,” the fat man says.”When they went to the track meet and they only brought two guys and the other coach asks where his team is and pop warner says that one guy ran two events and Thorpe did everything else? Well, chip is my Thorpe.

“And I’m the other guy.”


Except I don’t have two events. I have one. Texas hold’em. I start again.


“Chip. Maybe Danny Robinson. Deuce to seven Chip. Eight or better, Chip. Pot limit holdem, Erik seidel or Bobby Hoff. No limit Bobby Baldwin, short handed anything Stuey. Bobby or Zewin for razz.”

All that was left was limit holdem. The fat man looked at me. “Not today he said,” ‘Stuey short anything?” I said. He knew what I meant. “It would be close,” he said. I was satisfied.

We walked on. It hit me. They thought I was a fish. They were outdrawing me. I had done everything right, laid traps like they were land mines and they cruised. They had been lucky and I hadn’t been. Worse of all they didn’t know me.

“Most of them don’t have any idea who I am.”

“Whaddya wanna do, show a highlight film?”

I walked back in refreshed and freezing. The fat man went to a table full of epicurean delights served by a couple of women that looked like they just fell out of a Candace bushenell novel. I barely noticed them. I was fixated on the fact that I had broken my own first rule. They didn’t know me. Except for the Asian pro from Los Angeles. I decided on a course of action. I was going to play stuey heads up.

“One of the funniest things I ever heard at a poker table happened to Stuey.”

You knew Stuey? You played with Stuey?” you knew him before he went to Vegas?

You used to have a piece of Stuey?

The fat man came over and refilled my empty space with a Doyle Brunson special. More chips than anyone else had. Six sets of eyes looked at him as if for the first time. I finished the story.

“We were playing heads up and Stuey was losing and flinging in the cards real hard. After about the twentieth time the dealer, a guy named Jim Brenner looked at stuey and said “Stuey, if you throw in the cards one more time I’m going to have to deal around you.”

Sometimes you have to use all the skills available to you. On this night a bad run had left me questioning myself and let some very good players think that I was some wannabe. I used the only thing left I had. A memory. A memory that left my opponents with a deeper vision on who I was, who I knew and what kind of player I was. They left me an opening and the fat man and I escaped.