August 19, 2011 — It’s a rainy night in Tuscaloosa. In the bowels of Bryant Denny Stadium a “Texas Hold ‘Em” tournament flows deep into the night.  The game starts with 12…no wait, 13 tables. Five of those were found to be created by Wayne Atcheson. They are deemed invalid and closed down without comment.

As the players on the remaining tables lose and drop out, the number of tables slowly dwindles until just one remains.  There are only four players left standing.

A hush comes over the rest of the crowd as the first player, Big Tuna, opens the betting.  He looks almost giddy, squirming in his seat.

The second player, Scott, doesn’t look as confident.  Scott calls Tuna’s bet, but looks a little queasy after doing so.

The bet is now to the third player at the table, Paulie.  He looks at his cards and quickly folds.  “Too rich for my blood, but I bet I know a certain lumber man who would stay in” he snickers.

Finally, the bet is to the fourth player, Dan.  Dan appears to be counting the cards, but none of the other players seem too upset.  Finally, after five or ten minutes, Dan looks up and says “I’ll see your bet and raise you seven figures.”

Tuna and Scott eventually call, but both seem a little uneasy and hesitate before doing so.

One by one, the dealer plays the flop.

Ten of hearts. Six of clubs. Nine of diamonds.

Tuna begins to whistle and Scott dances to music only he can hear.

Dan is still busy bobbing his head attempting to count the cards.

Paulie steps to the back of the room and lights an enormous cigar.  He strikes up a conversation with his best friend forever, Nick who tells him that the cards he had been dealt were the equivalent of 9-11 and Pearl Harbor rolled into one.

“Good thing ya folded, aight?” Nick offers.

The dealer throws out the turn, a three of spades.

Tuna raises and Scott quickly matches.

“I’ll be back in one, maybe two weeks with the amount,” Danny offers.

“I’m sorry, sir,” the dealer counters. “You must make your bet now.”

Dan finally looks up and says “All In.”

Tuna chokes on a hushpuppy.

After he regains his composure, both he and Scott follow suit and go All In as well.

Tuna has nothing to offer so he tosses a gold chain on the table.

“I’d lahk ta wager muh jawb, dadgummit”  Scott says putting on sunglasses and a Florida State cap.

The dealer sighs and flips the river.

It is a two of clubs.

“Your hand sir?”  the dealer asks Tuna.

Tuna flips a jack of diamonds and a five of hearts on the table and leaps from his seat.  “BINGO!” he shouts while he performs a broken version of a leprechaun’s jig. “That’s right, BINGO!”

The dealer drops his head.  “I’m sorry sir, but there is no bingo in this game.”

Tuna glares at him. “Sure there is. J-5,” he says. “B-I-N-J-O!  Bingo was his NAME-O!”

“I’m sorry sir,” the dealer says. ‘You have a jack. That’s all.”

“No, I have bingo,” Tuna insists. “Just wait until the FBI gets here.  They’ll tell ya,” he pouts.

Paulie snickers and blows smoke rings while Nick glares off into the distance.

“Mr. Scott,” the dealer says moving on. “Your play.”

Scott, now wearing a South Carolina hat, smiles.

“Here’th the deal,” Scott lisps. “I saw the card’th, but I can’t th’ow them to you. Maybe Wendthday.”

“Are you going to make a play or not,” the dealer snaps in exasperation.

“Oh okay FINE,” Scott says tossing the Gamecock hat to the ground.

“Suck on THIS,” he bellows as he flips an eight of diamonds and a four of hearts.”

“I’m sorry, but what is your play?” the dealer asks.

“Three pair!” Scott bellows.  “I got two diamonds, two hearts and two of those things that look like paw prints.”

Paulie laughs, deciding it really isn’t worth trying to explain the rules to Scott.

“In other words you have nothing,” the dealer sighs.  “I’m sorry sir, but you must forfeit your job.”

“What? No. I don’t really have a job. I was just practicing. Besides that, I quit,” Scott babbles. “Whatever. I’ll go start my own table and you’ll have to pay $99 to see my awesome cards.”

The dealer turns to Dan. His cards are no longer on the table.

“Where are your cards? You need to show your hand, sir,” the dealer asks politely. “The hand to beat is a Jack high.”

Dan lifts his chin high and says “I can unequivocally beat a Jack high. I have four of a kind.”

The room reacts with an excited buzz anticipating Dan’s reveal.

“Please show your hand, sir,” the dealer demands.

“No sir, I will not,” Danny says defiantly.

“You must show your hand, sir,” the dealer asks again.

“My lawyer says I could be sued if I showed my cards. So I will not.

“What kind of morally reprehensible person would I be if I showed this four of a kind?” Danny asks.  “You could be fired. People could lose their livelihoods. You are a dirty cockroach for asking me to show you these cards. I bet you live in your mother’s basement.”

Paulie steps to the table.

“Hey, I’ve known Dan for twenty years. He’s a good guy. If he says he has four of a kind, you have to believe him unless he proves otherwise. He’s a credible guy. You got to read between the lines here. What he didn’t say was more important than what he did.”

The dealer looks at the cards on the table.

“There isn’t even a pair showing, so the odds against four of a kind are pretty high.”

Dan erupts.

“Do NOT talk about odds! We can analyze, but nobody is setting odds here!”

“Look,” Dan says. “I’ll take a lie detector test. You can give me truth serum.  Ask me if I’ve seen four of a kind. I will pass with flying colors. Bet me seven figures that I won’t.”

Paulie drifts back to the dark corner of the room where Nick waits.

The two stare at the table. The dealer is packing up to go home. The worthless chips are scattered on the table top and spill onto the floor. Dan sits stonefaced with his arms folded. Scott is rummaging around in a bag pulling out hats and fake moustaches. Tuna is sitting in the floor singing “b-i-n-j-o” over and over and over.

Paulie takes a long pull on the cigar and wafts a gigantic cloud of smoke.

“Well that was a dud,” he giggles as Nick fumes.  Paulie reaches over and pinches the shoulder of Nick’s suit between his finger and thumb.

“Hey, that’s a nice suit,” Paulie says exhaling another fog of smoke. “Where’d you get it?”

Nick turns and his eyes burn holes through Paulie.

“Who are you to ask me a question like that?” Nick sneers. “I’m going to start going to message boards to just make up stuff, aight, and see how you like that. Just wait to see how long it takes you to ask me a question about that made up stuff. Aight? You make me sick, you know that?”

Paulie unloads another cloud of smoke.

“Hey, I didn’t say anything,” he shrugs.  “I was just asking a question.”


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