A Poker Short Story: Reasonable Doubt

“Most of the other performers tried to put themselves across, rather than the song, but I didn’t care about doing that. With me, it was about putting the song across.”
–Bob Dylan
I don’t have much to say about poker theory this week, so I thought it was about time I tried something different here. I’ve been wanting to try some “real” writing for a while now, but the time just didn’t seem right. But tonight I’m feeling a little inspired, so I thought I’d give this short story thing a shot. I’m writing this as I go, without an outline or editing, so I hope my loyal readers will cut me some slack.
Gambling had been good to Gordon. He’d been beating the game for years now, using the small mistakes of less disciplined gamblers to build a comfortable life for himself. As he stepped out of his sportscar, he pictured it as a composition of the thousand glimmers of hope that had paid for the vehicle. The glimmers had turned into disappointment for his opponents, and that collective disappointment drove him around wherever he wanted to go.
Whenever the cards weren’t going Gordon’s way, he thought of all the things that the game had given him. The car, the house, and probably his family. He’d failed at several attempts to fit in with the rest of the businessmen, unable to accept a monotonous lifestyle where punching the clock was more important than doing your job well. Before he started playing poker, he’d never thought himself as good at anything.
He’d had bad runs before, but none like this. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d walked out a winner, and had stopped keeping records several weeks ago. In his entire poker career, he’d taken pride at writing down the results after each session, writing the wins in one column and the losses in another. Adding another number in the win column always made him smile, though he tried to remind himself that individual sessions don’t matter in the long run. This reminder came a lot more easily lately, and he’d taken to scribbling his losses on a napkin and throwing them in his folder so he wouldn’t have to look at the spreadsheet. As frustrated as he was, he still couldn’t bear to let his play go unrecorded, believing that soon he’d book enough wins to go back to the spreadsheet.
With every step he took towards the poker room, the doubt in his stomach grew more concentrated, and he tried to ease it by reminding himself of the countless victories he’d had in the room. He surveyed his territory, watching the eyes of the regulars light up as he approached the table. Everybody knew he was running bad, except for the new guys, who thought Gordon was a donator. To anybody who’d never played with him before the last few months, Gordon was another rich guy who came to blow off some steam and a few hundred bucks. The thinly veiled disrespect in their eyes bothered him more than losing.
“Good to see ya Gordo!”, said the floorman with a smirk. “I saved you a seat!” Gordon knew that the floormen hated all the pros, since they were forced to watch the pros make 10 times their salary night after night. Money won is twice as sweet as money earned, as the saying goes, and watching somebody win 10 times as much as you earn is therefore 20 times the bitterness.
“Thanks Joe,” mumbled Gordon as he flipped him a dollar chip.
“Better luck tonight!” said the floorman as he turned to walk away. It didn’t bother Gordon, because he was already taking stock of the eyes of his opponents. Hope, anger, and frustration steamed from his opponents eyes as the chips flew into the pot, and the doubt in his stomach rose to his throat. It was a good game.
Thanks for reading. Part 2 next time…

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