Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well. -Jack London
[This is a work of poker fiction set ten thousand hands in the future. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.]
In the hours before the Anti-Poker Patrol exploded two pipe bombs in the card room of the Mississippi Riverboat Casino Calamity Jane, Ben Parsons had been dealt, and had folded, nothing but poor hands: 3s-8d fold, 9d-5c fold. 10s-7s fold. "I'm going to go blind if I just keep folding," Parsons told himself as his chip stack continued... 6s-2d fold, 4h-7s fold, 8d-5c fold, Js-2d fold... to dwindle.
With the blinds coming back around to him, Parsons was finally dealt a playable hand and pushed all-in with the poorest of all pocket pairs, Quack-Quack, 2c-2h.
His all-in raise was immediately called. "I am a dead man," Parsons told himself just as the pipe bomb rolled to a stop under his chair.
This is how it got there.
Winston Smith was no gambler. The only reason he was even on board the Mississippi Riverboat Casino Calamity Jane was that his wife Peggy had dragged him there. Wandering past the poker room, Smith suddenly recognized a familiar face, his neighbor Ben Parsons. Smith hesitated to say hello. Only recently an anti-poker vigilante group calling themselves the Poker Patrol had, in the persons of two very scary women named The Sisters Queen, invaded his home and questioned him closely about his relationship with Parsons, whom they called a "card criminal."
Wanting no trouble from the Poker Patrol, Smith turned quickly away and, not looking where he was going, crashed head-long into a big man who was at that moment rushing into the poker room. Caught off balance, Smith fell, taking the big man to the floor with him.
"I am so sorry..." began Smith. His apology stopped in mid-sentence when he saw, not a man face, but a woman's, one of the Sisters Queen. The pipe bomb she had been clutching in her hand was rolling towards the poker room.
Pipe bombs, the poor man's weapon of mass destruction, are now called IEDs, Improvised Explosive Devices. By whatever name they are called, these crudely-made explosives are designed to wreak havoc. This particular pipe bomb, one of three used by the Poker Patrol, was filled with nails and screws. The impact of the fall had knocked it out of the Queen Sister's hand and set the pipe bomb rolling into the poker room, where it came to rest under Ben Parsons' chair.
The 2c-2h all-in bet had busted Parsons out of the game. "Another poor hand played poorly," he told himself, kicking his chair away and setting the pipe bomb rolling back toward the still prone Smith.
Winston Smith was no hero. If he could have run away from the pipe bomb that rolled toward him he would, without hesitation, have done so. But the Queen Sister was possessed of far better survival instincts. Rising up first, she attempted to save herself by throwing Smith over the pipe bomb. Smith, pinned to the floor with the pipe bomb trapped beneath, closed his eyes.
Nothing happened. The fuse of the crudely constructed pipe bomb fizzled out. Smith lay there.
"Winston?" asked Ben Parsons, "are you OK?"
Smith never got to answer. An explosion rocked the Poker Room.
(To be continued in the next issue of Poker Player)