Beyond the Western
An Unexpected Shark
Scott A. Gese

Image Source: Piqsels

The card players thought it was great fun inviting a new player to what they called a suckers game. Tonight the odds would not be in their favor.

Beyond the Western

Jack Gilbert and his friends played poker on Tuesday nights. They had played regularly for several years. Whenever they got tired of trading their own money between themselves, they would invite some poor sucker to sit in with them.

They would gang up on him all night long and send the poor guy home broke. Then they would split what they took from him among themselves. They all thought it was great fun.

One evening as the men were playing, the topic of conversation centered around a new couple who had recently moved to town. It was decided that Jack would find out if the guy played poker. If so, they would invite him to sit in on one of their “sucker” games.

Jack found his opportunity one day when he ran into the guy at the local hardware store. He introduced himself. The man returned the introduction letting Jack know his name was Bert.

During their brief conversation, Jack asked Bert “You don’t happen to be a poker player, do you?”

“I’ve played a hand or two, but I’m not all that good,” confessed Bert.

“I sit in on a regular Tuesday night game. You’re welcome to join us. It’ll be a good way to get to know a few of the guys in town. It’s a friendly game. We’re not all that good either. The buy in is only a hundred bucks.”

“Well that doesn’t seem too bad. Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you. What’s your number?” Bert pulled out his phone and typed it in. “I’ll be in touch.”

Bert’s wife, Doris, happened to be friends with the wife of one of the other poker players. “I heard Jack Gilbert invited your husband to sit in on a poker game,”

“Yes, he did. That was nice of him,” replied Doris.

“Maybe, but I’ll warn you,” the woman replied. “Jack and his poker buddies invite all the new guys in town to their Tuesday night games. They gang up on him until he’s out of money, then after they send him out the door, they split the winnings among themselves.”

“Is that so,” remarked Doris. “I’ll be sure to warn Bert. Thank you for letting me know.”

“My husband thinks it’s great fun. I think it’s disgusting,” replied the woman.

That evening Doris informed Bert about what she had been told. “Sounds like I need to sit in on this game,” replied Bert.

“I think you should,” replied Doris. “Sounds like someone needs to teach these guys a lesson.”

The following Tuesday Bert showed up at Jack’s house and met the rest of the players. They assured him it was a friendly game. Bert assured them that he was prepared to lose what money he had brought with him, and not to hold back on his account.

They all agreed they would play to win.

Within the first hour, Jack and the boys let Bert win a few hands in order to build his confidence. As the evening progressed, Bert showed a little spunk and won a couple of nice pots.

Jack and the boys decided it was time to start cleaning up on ol’ Bert. They took the next couple of hands taking Bert back to what he had when he started.

Bert decided he was done fooling around with this group of amateurs. They thought they could clean him out and split the winnings. Bert wasn’t about to let that happen.

He had been probing their weaknesses from the very first hand, and they had plenty. For the next two hours he took full advantage of them and played like the shark he really was.

When all was said and done, Jack and the boys were tapped out. Bert had taken every last cent of their money including a couple hundred more they had ponied up to keep the game going.

After the last hand was played, Jack leaned back in his chair and looked across the table at Bert. “Why do I get the impression we’ve been had,” he remarked.

“Because you have,” replied Bert. “I make a good living doing this. I’ve been a professional player for the past five years. I heard how you boys play. Inviting some unsuspecting sucker with a hundred bucks in his pocket to sit in on your game while you all gang up on him. Looks like your plan backfired tonight. Next time think twice about who you invite to your table. Playing a fair game might be a good idea as well.”

Bert scooped up his winnings and walked out the door on his own.

© Copyright 2020 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.