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Prisoner of Poker: The Fanatic

Fanatics are totally indifferent to the sanctity of human life. -Mohandas Gandhi

[This is a work of poker fiction set ten thousand hands in the future. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.]

This is the story of how the Crowfoot Tribe's poker princess, Camarin SanJamie, was shot by an anti-poker fanatic at a no-limit table in the Hold 'em Honky Tonk. She is not the first person shot at a poker table. That unenviable distinction belongs to Wild Bill Hickok, who in 1876 was shot to death in Deadwood South Dakota's Saloon No. 10. Hickok card's-two pair of aces and eights, along with an unknown fifth card-have ever after been called "The Dead Man's Hand."

It is then only fair that, as an equal-opportunity poker shooting, the flop that caused SanJamie to raise all-in, just as the gun went off, might have then been called "The Dead Woman's Flop." The cards were T-6-6.

1066 is coincidentally the year that the earliest form of the French card game poque crossed the English Channel with William the Conqueror. A second strange coincidence is that it was King William's great-great-grandson, Henry II, who, during a poque game, uttered the famous complaint, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?"-a reference to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, who had recently threatened to excommunicate the King for "excessively sinful gambling."

Henry's "excessively sinful gambling" included a poker game in Westminster Abbey. Overhearing Henry's complaint, one of his fanatical followers mistook the King's angry words for a royal death warrant and soon thereafter murdered Thomas Becket. His Holiness Pope Alexander reacted by excommunicating the entire population of England, which cost King Henry his throne and serves as a reminder to all of us to watch what we say at the poker table.

King Henry's deadly question, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?" is an almost word-for-word recitation of The Reverend Biggs Brother's complaint to his fervent anti-poker followers, "Will no one get rid of that troublemaking squaw?"

The "troublemaking squaw," Cammy SanJamie, a survivor of the Crystal Poker Room Suicide Bombing, had angered The Reverend by going on national TV and calling him "heaven's hypocrite" after his sermon on the strip had publicly damned the victims. One of those followers, The Fanatic, mistaking The Reverend's angry words for a theological death warrant, undertook as his mission the murder of Cammy SanJamie.

The Fanatic followed SanJamie and her poker partner, Tom Gunterson, out of Las Vegas and along Nevada's Poker Road, as they headed for the Hold 'em Honky Tonk, an old-fashioned poker room where the tables wobbled, the cards had a thousand smudge prints on them and the chips, like the players, were rough around the edges.

The sign over the Hold 'em Honky Tonk's entrance is:

Liquor In The Front
Poker In The Rear

On the jukebox Jerry Garcia is singing Deal and at the tables Cammy SanJamie and Tom Gunterson are playing fist-full-of-chips no-fold 'em hold 'em.

The Fanatic moves slowly through the crowd, making his way to SanJamie's table. He eases his way around the railbirds to a position just behind her chair. He draws his gun.

The flop is T-6-6. Gunterson, holding Q-Q, raises five times the big blind and the action folds around to SanJamie who, holding A-6, plays her trip sixes fast. "I'm all-in, Soldier Boy," she says to the marine and, just as she is about to push her chips over the bet line, The Fanatic steps forwards, places the gun to the back of her head, and fires.

(To be continued in the next issue of Poker Player)

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