Hobby and I were having lunch at the Blue Coyote, a Southwestern restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. I have always held Hobby’s margaritas as the standard of excellence, and have never found any others to come close, until I tasted the Wild Coyote Margarita.
“What do you think?” I asked Hobby as his took his first sip.
“Not bad, Joe. The fresh lime juice gives it a nice bite. I like it.”
“I heard you on phone with Mike. What’s the latest on Lazybuns II’s repair work?”
“Good news. They’ve finished and I told Mike to make plans to bring her back. He’ll hire a couple of crew members and get underway tomorrow or the next day, heading through the canal. I’m flying to Panama City to sail her back from there. You want to join us?”
“Maybe. When will you leave?”
“About a week. We should get back to Marina del Rey in four or five days.”
I took a look at my pocket scheduler and said. “Great, let’s plan on it. I’m wondering if Hank and Barry might be interested.” I thought since they had been on the aborted cruise to the French Riviera, they might want a reprise.
“We’ll be at their place tomorrow night for poker. I’ll ask. Speaking of poker, are you game for the tournament at Morongo tonight.”
From Hobby’s villa it was a half-hour drive to Morongo. We got there well before the seven o’clock start time. Buy-ins vary from day-to-day; for today, Thursday, it would be about a C-note.
We specifically asked to be put at different tables so we’re not pitted against each other. I like to get seated early so I can check other players coming to the table. I believe I can get an early read on them. Basically, there are yackers and stoics. I fall into the latter category, which I think has the more serious and potentially more dangerous players.
The table filled up quickly with mostly non-descript characters except for an old codger who looked like Willie Nelson. He introduced himself: “I’m Pastor Jonah from the Church of the Woe-Begotten. I’m here to win money for poor and destitute souls.”
The rest of us looked at each other wondering what the hell he was all about. The dealer quickly diverted our attention as he set out chips and dealt the first hand. Jonah was under the gun and quickly mucked saying. “The Lord is patient and so am I.” The following hand when Jonah was on the big blind he made the same statement and tossed his cards away, even though he had a free call. The dealer explained he should keep his cards for the flop, but Jonah insisted on tossing them. His weird play continued until it was time to color-up and reset the tables; he paid his blinds but mucked every hand and was down to about half his starting chips.
I looked around for Hobby and saw him headed for the restroom, my next stop also. When I caught up I said, “We had a weird guy at our table who mucked every hand and never saw a flop.”
“He the guy who looks like Willie Nelson?”
“Yeah. He kept saying, ‘The Lord is patient and so am I.’ I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Coming back to the tables we saw Jonah talking with a man wearing the house blazer who was probably the poker room manager. I couldn’t tell what they were saying, but it looked like a friendly conversation.
I busted out soon after the changeover with a nut flush to a full boat. The board paired on the river and I saw the danger, but I had put my opponent on a weaker flush and went all in with him. Curses, foiled again.
With nothing better to do I looked for Jonah. He continued to spout his message while mucking every hand and was nearly out of chips. I saw Hobby had a good sized stack in front of him and watched his table. After a couple small pots were claimed I saw a flop of two aces and a jack. Four players made what looked like modest bets, Hobby among them. The turn dropped another jack. It was likely someone had a boat.
Hobby and one other player bet heavily. There was tension in the air and, as the river card showed a third ace, there were multiples “oohs and aahs” uttered. Hobby went all in and his opponent called. Hobby confidently showed his case kings and was poised to rake in chips until the fourth ace appeared across the table.
There were many consoling remarks for Hobby, and he took it like the prince he is, walking around the table to shake hands with the quad holder.
“Joe, I wondered where the fourth ace might be, but at that point I was committed to go all in. So what happened to that Jonah guy?”
I scanned the poker area and said, “I don’t see him around. Last I saw of him he was about out of chips and probably never played a hand. Very weird. Look, over there, he’s playing a slot machine.”
We watched from the side and saw him feed a $100 bill into the machine. Hobby said, “Someone ought to intervene, he’s probably a nut case. He shouldn’t be allowed to blow his money like that.” We were nearby and I said, “How’s it going, Jonah?”
“The Lord is patient and so am I.”
Hobby and I exchanged concerned looks and I said, “Let’s look for a supervisor.”
Write to author David Valley at: email@example.com