Cards slid into place before all three players one by one until each one was looking at 5 cards face down. Before he ever touched a card, Ace always made it a point to look at the other players, to gauge them, and try to get a feel for who he was playing. This time, his own assessments were confirmed. Neither opponent, as eager to play a ‘friendly game’ as they seemed. Both Enzo and Burell seemed more eager to count at their money at hand than try to get a read on Ace.
Without even looking at his own hand Ace was sure what he was about to see. He’d seen it before, even as a kid. Terraforming colonies worker’s would come to town and there were always some young local hot shots ready to try and squeeze some pay out of them. One thing everyone always forgot though, is there is always some one better.
When he lifted the cards up, he saw the makings of a straight, nine high to be exact. All he needed was a single five, not that long of odds to be sure. Burell started the betting; “Let’s keep it friendly, 2 blue.” Ace didn’t hesitate, he tossed in 2 blue credits as well and just tipped his hat slightly. Wouldn’t pay to start appearing cocky. Enzo just threw his in as well, 9 little blue coins of silicon lay in pile before them.
In a quiet declaration Enzo proclaimed “Dealer takes two” Slowly he sat two of his cards down and dealt out two more. He then turned to Burell and waited to see if he required any new cards. “Well, don’t get hands like this that often, but maybe one more couldn’t hurt.” Burell tossed down his card and slid it’s replacement up into his hand, letting his smile widen.
“Just one for me thanks.” Ace was sure the deck was stacked and sure enough a five of spade arrived to join the party. Burell once again opened the betting; “not a bad hand at all, let’s make things a bit more interesting, say 5 blue.”
Ace raised an eyebrow, he was sure they were expecting him to actually be buying this song and dance. “All right, I guess I’ll take a risk, here’s hopin’.” Five more credits joined the pile that was beginning to grow. Certainly these two were trying to see just how high they could build this traveler up to before he decided to cut and run. Enzo shrugged as well as he matched the bet.
With a shout Burell laid down two pair, deuces and threes. “Beat this guys!”
“Try this,” Enzo laid down three jacks.
Putting on his best sheepish expression, Ace laid down his nine high straight. After a strategic pause he slowly raked in his 24 blue credits. Not a bad teaser to try and keep him around Ace mused almost tempted to chuckle. Whimsically he wondered what he was going to be dealt next.
Enzo began to shuffled again, then looked at Burell, “Care to cut this one?”
“Don’t mind if I do!” Burell was just oozing smug confidence. “So you just passing through stranger? Where you from?”
“Just traveling.” Ace replied, intent to see what the next hand was going to give him. This time they hadn’t pulled any punches. Setting right in his hand was the prettiest royal flush he had ever seen. Burell opened the bidding with a simple 2 blue, clearly trying to act a little down. Ace decided to play to the false courage they seemed to be trying to fill him with. “I’ll see your 2 and raise you 10.”
Enzo merely shook his head and placed his hand face down, indicating he was going to fold this one. Burell, ever eager, saw the raise and opted for 3 new cards. Ace however wasn’t surprised when he folded. Now was when they would act, the last hand had netted Ace very little save his own money but an inexperienced or drunken player might have saw it as a stir of luck and pushed the next hand. Unfortunately for these two, he was neither.
With the ante placed the cards were dealt, this time in silence. Ace looked about, this time the pair of would be sharks were all business. Enzo was doing his best, ‘considering this hand’ routine and Burell was trying to feign a worry over the time, and his hand. “Say guys, I’m going to have to scoot soon to make my shift. So why don’t we keep this one interesting. A fun hand for the road, what do you say?” With a slight edge in his voice he carefully set a Silver credit on the table. That was 10 blue credits right off the bat, there was no way these guys made anything like that in a month, if it had been hard coin he was sure he would be staring at a coin of minted platinum.
Ace casually reached into his boot and produced a similar credit and sat it on the table, making sure to never waiver his gaze. Enzo swallowed and followed suit, and everyone looked at they’re hands. ‘Cute,’ Ace thought to himself. ‘Real cute.’ They had dealt him the legendary dead man’s hand. A pair of aces and a pair of eights with a queen kicker. These two must be comedians, to try and fleece someone with this hand. But if Enzo was smart he wouldn’t dare try to have dealt himself anything obvious, he would got for a safe win, perhaps a three of a kind, Ace figured.
Burell continued his boisterous display, calling for no cards. “A hand like this doesn’t come around often, guess this will be a lucky hand before I have to leave you guys with empty pockets. Apologies friends.”
Ace took one look at Enzo’s hands and sat the queen face down. He held up a single finger, to motion for one card. If he was right Enzo’s nervous hands very likely could have betrayed him. Especially if he had been trying to go for three of a kind. It would have been all too easy to have accidentally stacked too many similar cards together and not realized it, and if he hadn’t, well, Ace could always resort to the ace he had palmed out of his boot moment before to tuck into his sleeve.
Relieved he found he wouldn’t have to when Enzo slid him a third ace. Setting in his hand was triple aces and a pair of eights. A dead man’s hand had just transformed itself into a full house, something three of a kind could never begin to best. Enzo waved off any new cards and looked to Burell for the next round of bidding.
Looking at his winnings on the table Burell quickly calculated and slid a good portion forward. “Well since I’m on my way out, how about 20 blue.” His eyes shot right at Ace, as he almost licked at his lips like a hungry predator.
Ace lowered the brim of his hat, hoping they would think him to be cautiously contemplating. Then saw the same amount placed on the table and added another 2 gleaming silver credits. Enzo gulped and saw the same bet from his end of the table. As the betting came back around to Burell, he didn’t disappoint, he did exactly as Ace expected and folded. “sorry guys, I have to be heading out, if I’m late again the supervisor will have my rear.” He had done his job and escalated the final pot to it’s whale like size. Now all Enzo had to do was casually claim it with a slightly higher bit of luck and they would have managed quite the payoff.
“Well,” Ace broke the silence. “What did you have mister?” His brim still tilted down, surely even Enzo would be feeling the stir of excitement at a seemingly successful scam.
“Sorry friend,” Enzo began with a start. “Looks like I have three kings bearing a whole pile of blessing today.” His hand was laid down on the table and without even asking yet what his opponent had, already started to reach for all the credits littering the table.
“Hold, friend.” Ace put a point to the last word, filling the word with a hint of warning. “Looks like I am blessed today as well, by three little friends.” A trio of aces was placed on the table. “Oh and as company they brought a couple of eights along as well. That would make it, a little crowded, but a full house none the less, right?”
Confusion exploded from Enzo in a instant. “What,” he roared. “But that can’t be. There is no way!”
“Now, you wouldn’t have been trying to cheat an ol’ boy, would you, friend?” Ace’s tone was steady and quiet, punctuated by a single unmistakable click under the table. The hammer on his signature sidearm had found its way from it’s peaceful resting position into hanging ready to fall at the command of a slight squeeze.