Posted by Ellis Shuman, February 16, 2015
I scowl with frustration at myself as I sit at the table. Damn my cards – they just won’t behave, and damn my opponents for hitting the river and subjecting me to this ordeal. I should be knocking them out, making the final table, yet here I am trying to catch up with the average chip count. I must not fall any farther behind. I must not lose another pot. Reciting this mantra several times, I attempt, once more, to bring my poker games under control.
I roll my eyes in exasperation and gaze at the pale, brown-haired girl with blue eyes too big for her face staring back at me from across the table and give up. She has the nuts every hand. My only option is to bluff my pocket threes and hope that the move seems semi-presentable.
Her name is Anastasia Spades, and I first met her when we both registered for the Grey Poker Tournament Main Event. I pushed open the door to Tournament Registration and stumbled through, tripping over my own feet, and fell head first into the office.
Double crap – me and my two left feet! I am on my hands and knees in the doorway to the office, and gentle hands are around me helping me to stand. I am so embarrassed, damn my clumsiness. I have to steel myself to glance up. And there she was, so young, so attractive, so eager to make a killing at the poker table. It takes a moment for me to find my voice.
She seems too young to be a poker pro. If she is a poker pro then I’m a monkey’s uncle. In a daze, I place my hand in hers and we shake. As our fingers touch, I feel an odd exhilarating shiver run through me. I withdraw my hand hastily, embarrassed. Must be static from the last cards she touched. I blink rapidly, my eyelids matching my heart rate.
“You’re very young to have amassed so many WSOP bracelets. To what do you owe your success?” I ask.
“Poker is all about people, and I’m very good at reading people. I know how they tick, what makes them flourish, what doesn’t, what inspires them, and how to defeat them. I employ exceptionally good strategy, and I win quite often.” She laughs boldly.
“I work hard, very hard to win hands. I make decisions based on logic and facts. I have a natural gut instinct that can spot and nurture a good solid bluff. The bottom line is it’s always down to good cards,” she says.
“Maybe you’re just lucky.”
“I don’t subscribe to luck or chance. The harder I work the more luck I seem to have. It really is all about having the right cards.”
“You sound like a control freak.”
“Oh, I exercise control in all games.” she says without a trace of humor in her smile. I look at her, and she holds my gaze steadily, impassive. My heartbeat quickens, and my face flushes again.
“I need you to sign a nondisclosure agreement before we sit down at the table,” she continues. “My manager insists on it. It means that you can’t disclose anything about my poker strategy, about us. Anything to anyone.”
I stare at her in disbelief. Holy shit. It’s bad, really bad, and now I’m very curious to know. I want her as my poker partner. I fancy this poker romance. I want her poker sex. Poker and sex. Sex and poker. After all, poker is better than sex.
“Okay. I’ll sign.”
“You really should read everything you sign.”
“Does this mean you’re going to play poker with me tonight?” Holy shit. Did I just say that? Her mouth drops open slightly, but she recovers quickly.
“No, it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t play poker. I dominate poker. Secondly, there are many more shuffles ahead, and thirdly, you don’t yet know what you’re in for. You could still run for the hills. Come, I want to show you my poker table.”
Much later, I sit across from Anastasia Spades at the tournament table. My legs are tightly bound. My hands are handcuffed together; my chips are locked as well. The blindfold covering my eyes prevents me from seeing my hole cards, but this is as per the agreement I signed. I must submit to her every raise without question. I must fold at her command.
Somehow I know none of this would have happened if I had stuck to playing poker freerolls.
Holy. Crap. This. Poker. Rocks.
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