I was the first to arrive at R’s game. He had told me there would be a cash game at 6:00 and a tourney at 7:30. I’m dead money in a tourney (even though I played to the best of my ability, this night was no different), yet I also feel that as an act of goodwill, it isn’t a bad idea to sit in the tourney every once in a while, and if I am a bit lucky, I might be able to pay for it from my cash game winnings.
The next player didn’t arrive for another half hour, which gave R and I some time to chat about his business (changed the name and status to an LLC), his birthday trip to the local casino (he won big), and show me the 500 new chips he bought (14 gms).
R already had quite a large amount of chips, easily another 750 white, blue, red, green, yellow, black… you know, the usual home game variety. The new ones were classier, and in a different color scheme, or rather, more pastel. A birthday present to himself?
“We were short $40 in the late cash game payout last time, and $100 short the time before. Now we’ll use the old chips for the tourney and these for cash.”
Very disconcerting. Someone had been palming chips from the tourney table and cashing out of the cash game with them. But who?
R didn’t know, yet he had a short list that he discreetly didn’t share. I must admit I had a list forming in my head as well. The problem, of course, is getting the goods on someone, which would be nigh impossible with the new chip arrangement. Add to the dilemma that for the most part the people who come to R’s game are pretty much the same folks each week, and it’s been that way for two or three years. We’re supposed to be friends; sure, friends who take each other’s money, but we look each other in the eye when we do it.
Eventually, enough people showed up so we could start a cash game. (I made a little money in the hour we played, but it was just a short run that quickly dried up.) Of course, people commented on the new chips and R told the story. People were aghast. Who would do such a thing? Certainly no one who was sitting there at that moment.
I listened carefully. One remark stood out, and I made note. It was a remark, unlike the others, made as a subtle plea of “not guilty,” and therefore, a confession. It was a horrible irony, and from a person so far from my initial suspects that I tried to put it out of my mind.
People who know each other in an intimate group talk freely in the absence of the person who becomes a topic of conversation. My contact with these people I play poker with is limited to the time I spend at the table. Still, I have learned much about whose marriage is in trouble, who has a gambling or drinking problem, or who is in hock up to their eyebrows. On my drive home, I remembered a conversation about the person in the last situation. Yes, the very same.
How can I be certain? I can’t without incriminating myself for past misdeeds, regardless of an expired statute of limitation. Though from destitution more than debt, I have known such desperation, so I may very well be projecting. Or, it takes one to know one.
It took a lot for me to write that last paragraph, but it is the truth, or at least a reasonable facsimile. We all have done things we are not proud of, no? And this brings me back to sitting with R on his couch as we discussed the thievery. He was upset but not incredulous, and there was no talk of canceling the game. He merely took steps to remedy the situation in a way that would, hopefully, insure that it wouldn’t happen again. After all, these were friends, and in some instances, very good friends.