My palms got sweaty and my shoulders got tighter with the anticipation of having to make a decision. It only took a half an hour for me to be on the spot. While they were dealing Texas Hold ‘Em Two Times bet the flop and then the turn as he always did, he shook the other two players out the hand, and only Silverback went with him to the river. This was the standard poker game for those two. Yet, it didn't feel standard at all to me.
Action on Two Times and he stared at Silverback’s cards and right through them, I knew he was waiting. Silverback had nothing, complete garbage, and was waiting to make a move if Two Times checked. I was frozen stiff I didn’t know who scared me more. Suddenly I was playing a game ofTexas Holdem in my mind.
Two Times eyes narrowed and then he scratched his nose and practically stared at me. Begrudingly, because I had to, I sent him a signal and as I did Silverback looked back at me, the look he gave me was chilling. It was a look I’d seen him do at the table. I felt like I was one of his opponents and he was staring into me reading my cards as though my eyes were a mirror.
Two Times checked and Silverback, holding his cards even more obviously, so everybody could see I could see what he held, bet. Two Times quickly folded.
Silverback slammed his cane into the table as though he was pissed he didn’t get a call, “I need a break. Kid, come with me.” I followed him to his office.
“Sit down!” he bellowed.
Did he know I had signaled, how could he?
“You think I’m stupid kid?” he put the bottom of his cane to my throat.
“No… No, sir,” I stammered.
“Good.” He pulled the cane away. “You did a good thing tonight. Him offering you money and bringing that thug in there to intimidate you, that took some balls to do what you did.”
Before I could question he lifted his cane above my head where a row of televisions lined the wall above the doorframe.
“I got cameras for two blocks, ain’t nobody rolling up on here to steal from our game that gets away with it. You made the right decision scratching your nose. I hate cheaters. Hate ‘em. You know had you told him I had a decent hand you wouldn’t be sitting in my office right now. You’d be headed to a swamp. Not fun to sleep in a swamp you know," he let that settle in.
Then he continued conspiratorially, “What you are going to do now, is start signaling the truth. See, there a few golden rules in poker, like you can give a man a haircut every couple of weeks or so but you can only scalp him once. Ole Texas Dolly likes to say shear a sheep or skin it, same thing. I prefer scalping, rolls off the tongue. Another rule is you can ride a donkey every day but one day you ride that donkey too hard that donkey’s going to kick back. Well, I guess I rode him too hard. I forgot that you got to give him a carrot every now and then. Donkey’s got to eat too.
“Well, tonight, the donkey gets his treat. In fact, he’ll get his carrot for three more weeks, and then he’ll play the biggest pot he's ever played, and then that cheater is going to get his. That donkey’s going to get put down. You follow?”
“You want me to tip him off to your cards?”
“That’s right, and then one night you are going lie just like you did tonight. You'll signal I’m bluffing with nothing when I have him.”
“What about…” again I was in a corner.
“What about nothing. I’ll show him the tape, tell him if he ever cheats again, I’ll show everybody another tape. Man’s a politician. A married politician who shouldn’t be running around with waitresses from bars like mine and he certainly shouldn’t be trying to push my employees around. Two timing son of bitch”