Monday, November 12, 2007

Chapter 55

A little past eight on Tuesday evening found Tricia and Mary Beth approaching the sign up desk in the poker room. The afternoon had been a mixed bag for Tricia. She’d had fun hanging out with Mary Beth but had tried three single table satellites and lost them all. It didn’t appear that Mary Beth’s earlier prediction of good luck was going to hold up, at least as it pertained to Tricia.

While Tricia had been beating her head against the wall that was single table satellites Mary Beth had returned to her slot machine and had gained, over the time she played it, another $50 or so. Consequently Mary Beth was in a much better mood than Tricia although Tricia was trying hard not to be grumpy. It was hard to be too grumpy around Mary Beth anyway when she was in such a good mood, it was infectious.

That afternoon after Tricia had made a joking comment about how Mary Beth’s low cut blouse might help her at the poker table Mary Beth had dragged Tricia shopping. She’d gotten the location of the nearest mall and off they went with Tricia mentally, if not quite physically, dragging her heels.

That shopping trip had been an experience. As a consequence Tricia was now dressed in a blouse cut lower than any she had owned. That wasn’t hard since most of her wardrobe was pretty conservative. When Tricia had pointed out that it wasn’t going to work on her the same way because her boobs were lots smaller than Mary Beth’s Mary Beth had countered by dragging Tricia along to Victoria’s Secret where Tricia had been subjected to a fairly embarrassing bra fitting and frank discussion of her body by Mary Beth and the sales lady. Even Tricia privately admitted that the results were fairly spectacular. The image Tricia saw when she looked in the mirror was kind of sexy without being over the edge into being slutty which was what Tricia had feared was going to happen. She wasn’t ready to admit it to Mary Beth yet but she liked the look and would have thought it was impossible for her to achieve.

“So what’s the plan here?” Mary Beth asked as they waited at the sign up desk.

Tricia brought her thoughts back to the here and now and said, “Well I promised Kevin that I’d give some seven card stud a try so if they’ve got a game of seven card high only I’m going to do that. You should play some hold’em I think. You’re on a roll. You’ll do fine.”

“I want to watch you for a while first,” Mary Beth said.

“You didn’t like seven card stud when I tried to teach you, why would you want to watch?”

“Because my friend is playing and I want to watch her.”

“Awww that’s sweet,” Tricia said. “Silly but sweet. You’re a big girl. If that’s what you want to do it’s fine with me. You should play some tonight though. You seem to enjoy it and you have to admit your luck is there today.”

“Yeah, if I didn’t use it all up.”

“There is that,” Tricia conceded as they moved up to the front of the line. Then to the woman taking sign ups she asked, “Do you have any seven card stud high only games spread?”

They had a game and Tricia was directed to that table.

As they made their way there Mary Beth said, “You sound so official when you talk like that.”

“Talk like what?”

“You know, all that poker talk.”

Tricia laughed. “Well we’re in a poker room.”

“I know but it has a language all it’s own sort of. Anyway it’s impressive that you know your way around so well.”

Tricia smiled thinking how scared she’d been her first time. She had come a long way. She had a long way to go though, she knew.

She took her seat at the table and looked around. It was the only game of it’s type going so there had been no point in checking them out to see which might be the better game. There was another female player but save one young guy probably in his late 20’s Tricia was the youngest player by a good margin except for one guy who was probably in his 40’s. The rest were all over 60, some of them way over, Tricia thought.

She just told herself that she’d held her own playing with her father and his cronies and had even gotten lately where she could beat them just as Kevin had predicted. It was a fact that she knew irked her father some but he also seemed proud of her which was something she wasn’t used to coming from him.

Tricia snorted with laughter when she’d been playing a few minutes. When Mary Beth asked what was so funny Tricia had told her, “I don’t think this get up you got me to wear is going to have much effect on these guys and I think the woman over there thinks I’m a slut for wearing it.”

“You never know, some of these old guys may put the moves on you. You’d better watch out for them. As for the lady over there I think those looks are for me not for you.” Mary Beth said with a smile. “Either way who cares. You said you feel good in it right?”


“And it’s not that revealing. Hell Tricia there is nothing wrong with dressing like a girl. You are a girl you know. I don’t even think Matt would mind.”

Tricia chuckled. No Matt was going to love this shirt she thought.

She had started out playing very conservatively while she assessed the players and the game itself. Gradually she began opening up her game and playing more. She won a nice pot or two and then lost a big one when somebody had turned out to have two more kings in the hole and his quads beat her aces full. The fact that none of the other aces had shown up had slowed the guy down a little at least since Tricia could have had quad aces. Alas though she hadn’t, just Aces full of sevens which she’d thought would beat his likely kings full. She’d known she was beaten when he re-raised on the final street.

“I’m glad Kevin got me to learn to play this,” Tricia told Mary Beth while she sat watching a hand play out after she’d folded. “I’m having a lot of fun with it.”

“Just hold’em is complicated enough for me thank you,” Mary Beth said.

“I hate hold’em,” the guy to Tricia’s right said. “I’m glad to see a young person learning to play stud. It’s a bit of a dying art with everybody wanting to play no-limit hold’em all the time.”

FONT size=4>“Well a friend encouraged me to give it a try. He told me it would even be good for my no-limit game. I have to confess that I started out that way and I’m still primarily a hold’em player. This is only like the third time I’ve played stud in a casino. It’s hard to find a game in the casinos that are close to home.” Tricia said.

“That’s my point exactly,” the guy said. “Hold’em is killing off stuff and Omaha. The only hope is the HORSE tournament and other mixed game tournaments that are starting to get a little popularity.”

“Yeah. I think that is what my friend has in mind down the line, that I give those a try.” Tricia said.

“Well your friend is a pretty good teacher. I don’t know about your hold’em game but you seem to be a fast learner at stud.”

“Actually,” Tricia said. “My friend didn’t teach me to play. He was visiting and we got into a game with my father and his usual poker buddies and he got my dad to teach me. First woman to ever play in their game I think.”

“Their loss,” the guy said. “My usual bunch would love to have a pair of good looking young girls like you two in our game.”

“I think I’m in love,” Mary Beth said. “Young girls like us! What a sweetie! What’s your name cutie?”

He was not bad looking, especially for being around her father’s age, but Tricia suspected that Mary Beth was mostly being nice.

The guy chuckled. “My name is Frank. Be gentle with me. I’m old and you wouldn’t want to over excite me and give me a heart attack. Although it would be a hell of a way to die. At least I’d go out with a smile on my face.”

Mary Beth laughed. “I’m Mary Beth and this is Tricia. I bet you could handle both of us.”

Tricia looked at Mary Beth in amazement.

Frank laughed. “There was a day I’d have liked to try. Even if it would have meant running therisk of my wife killing me. You’d lose that bet now. I couldn’t handle either of you but I thank you for humoring an old man.”

“My pleasure,” Mary Beth said. “You aren’t that old you know and experience does count for something.”

“True, good thing for you I’m still married then or you might be in trouble.” Frank said with a grin.

“My kind of trouble,” Mary Beth laughed.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

“I don’t believe that,” Frank said. “You are just being friendly. I see that wedding ring. I’ve had mine for 40 years. I bet you’ll have yours that long or longer.”

“Wow,” Mary Beth said. “I hope so. Congratulations.”

“The one good thing I’ve done with my life,” Frank said, looking at his hold cards for the next hand and tossing the hand in the muck. “So you’re here for the tournaments Tricia?”

Tricia nodded as her hand followed Franks into the muck.

“You must have some good poker experience,” Frank said. “I know you said you were new to stud but you play too well to have just picked it up.”

“This is only my second real tournament series,” Tricia told him. “I learned to play online like most people these days. Then I got a chance to go play the WSOP circuit event in Indiana a few months back.”

“How’d you do?”

“She won!” Mary Beth said excitedly, startling Frank.”

“I didn’t win,” Tricia said, giving Mary Beth an indulgent smile. “I was second in the ladies event and cashed in another of the events.”

“That sounds good to me,” Frank said. “Where is home if you don’t mind my asking. This is nowhere near Indiana.”

“Tell me about it,” Mary Beth grumbled, recalling the long drive.

Tricia chuckled. “Cincinnati is home and yes we drove all the way here which is what Mary Beth is being a grump about.”

“That’s a good trek,” Frank agreed.

He began to talk to Tricia about her experience there and they drifted into talking about poker in general. Mary Beth was following the conversation less and less until she finally said, “Tricia I think I’m going to go find a game like we played last night. I just go to that desk and tell them what I want right?’

“Right as for 4/8 limit hold’em. 3/6 or 2/4 is ok but I doubt they have it. Don’t let them talk you into a bigger game and don’t try no-limit yet, even a 1/2 no-limit is something I’m not sure you’re ready for yet.”

“Yes boss,” Mary Beth said with a smile. “4/8 is what we played last night and I was fine with that.”

Tricia settled back into the game after watching Mary Beth get seated in a game of her own.

“You girls are here by yourselves?” Frank asked. “Not that it’s any of my business.”

“Yes we are. I won’t get to do this very often but my husband was willing to let me do it again after I won as much as I did the last time and am going to pay for a family trip to Disney in Florida this year with some of it.” Tricia answered. “I hope you didn’t mind the way Mary Beth was flirting with you.”

Frank chuckled. “You’ve got to be kidding. At my age to have somebody like either of you pay me any mind at all is great. Don’t worry I’m not under the delusion that she was trying to seduce me. It was just good fun. It made my night as a matter of fact. Now I can go home and tell my wife she has competition.”

Tricia laughed. “Won’t that get you a night on the couch?”

“Nah,” Frank said. “She knows better. We like to kid each other, keeps us feeling young. She was quite a flirt in her day, still is to some extent I guess. She never meant anything by it, she was always just a naturally friendly fun person like your friend Mary Beth.”

“I wish I could be like that sometimes.” Tricia said.

Frank shrugged. “You are what you are. You’re friendly, just in your own way. You’re also a good player. Good luck in the tournaments. I don’t know how the competition stacks up compared to the one you played.”

“I guess we’ll see,” Tricia said with a shrug. “I don’t really expect to win one. I’ll be happy to cash high enough to make my expenses.”

“Well don’t sell yourself short,” Frank told her. “If you cashed in one and got second in the ladies event then I don’t think it was a fluke. Not seeing how you play stud.”

“Thanks,” Tricia said, feeling a little embarrassed at the praise, “I hope you’re right. I’m going to try my best.”

“You’re in the event tomorrow?” Frank asked.

Tricia nodded. “Yeah I tried three single table satellites, missed in all of them so I just bought in. Those things are really too much of a crap shoot but I had good luck in them the last time. I promised Kevin I’d play all the events up to and including the main event. We’re driving home Sunday though and won’t play that one. I don’t see why they had an event after the main event.”

“Does seem screwy but they did it last year. Not many people play.” Frank said.

“Are you playing any of them?”

“Me?” Frank asked then laughed. “Not likely. I told you I hate hold’em. I get sucked out on way too much.”

“Oh come on it’s not that bad,” Tricia said. “If you just play the right cards you’re halfway there. I know you can read hands and people well enough.”

“I know. I play when I can’t find a stud game but I don’t have to like it.”

“True, but it’s easier if you do.” Tricia laughed.

Frank laughed with her. “Yeah it would be.”

“It can be a bit of a grind I guess. You’ll play very few hands if you do it right but you don’t play that many even in this game if you’re playing right.”

Frank shrugged. “Maybe I need lessons.”

Tricia laughed. “Well I’m not good enough to give you lessons but I’m going to switch to one of the 1/2 no-limit hold’em games after a little while and you’re welcome to watch if you’d like.”

“Actually I’d like that,” Frank said.

Tricia looked surprised. “Well by all means. I have not played much no-limit in cash games. Most of my experience is in tournaments for no-limit. Kevin and another friend wanted me to try some no-limit cash games as well. I promised I would. You could be about to watch a world class disaster in the making.”

Frank smiled and patted her on the arm. “I doubt that.”

“Well then how about now?” Tricia said as another player got up and left the game. “It looks like this game is going to break up anyway.”

“Yeah,” Frank said sadly. “I tell you stud is dying.”

“Oh come on, have faith,” Tricia said. “And in the meantime you can watch me make a fool out of myself.”

“You don’t believe that,” Frank said, “Or you wouldn’t be going to play it. Lets go, and no more of that garbage talk.”

“Now you sound like Kevin.”

“He must be a smart man then,” Frank said and then laughed.

Tricia laughed with him as they racked their chips and got ready to switch games.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chapter 54

Tricia woke when Mary Beth’s phone rang on the bedside table. Mary Beth, grumbling, stretched over to answer it.

“What?” Mary Beth snapped. “Why are you calling so early?”

Tricia got up and went to the bathroom partly out of necessity and partly to miss as much of the phone call as she could. She didn’t want to start the morning hearing Mary Beth fighting with Dutch and that had to be who was calling her for her to have answered that way.

It was not, Tricia noted looking at her cell phone which was charging in the bathroom, all that early. It was right around 9:30. That was the latest she’d slept since the last time she’d been at a poker tournament.

She heard Mary Beth wrap up her call with Dutch and went back out when she was done. It hadn’t been a long call and it hadn’t gone as badly as she thought it might considering the way it started.

When she walked out of the bathroom Mary Beth was wrapped in a sheet.

“Why did I wake up in your bed dressed in this night gown?” Mary Beth asked.

Tricia smiled at her. “You’d have to tell me. You’re the one who put that one on last night while I was in changing into this granny mode sleep shirt. You’re the one who crawled into my bed while we were talking and then fell asleep.”

“I did?” Mary Beth asked. “I didn’t do or say anything I’m going to regret did I?”

“Well I don’t think so,” Tricia said deciding to try to have some fun with Mary Beth. “I’d never even thought of making love to another woman but you were pretty persistent. It wasn’t too bad.”

Mary Beth turned beet red. “Please tell me you’re putting me on. I wouldn’t have done that. Not to you. I hope I wouldn’t have. I know I was horny last night. I remember that but I don’t think I’d do a thing like that.”

Mary Beth looked so shaken that Tricia had to have mercy on her. “I am kidding. You did put that nightie on all on your own and you did crawl into my bed while we were talking but you fell asleep and shortly after you did so did I. I don’t know about you but I slept like a rock until your phone went off.”

Mary Beth looked relieved. “Thank God. You know I’m going to get you back for scaring me like that.”

“No, I owed you that for letting you drag me to have drinks with Ben and his buddies last night.” Tricia countered.

“Oh come on,” Mary Beth said. “You had fun. You looked like you were having fun. You were the one behaving yourself. All you were doing was talking about poker with Josh and Chuck. I was the one acting like a slut I guess.”

“Oh you were not!” Tricia said. “You were having fun. Hell I envy the way you do it. It’s something I’ll never be able to do.”

“You do it in your own way. Everybody is different,” Mary Beth said, then she changed the subject. “I’m hungry. Are you up for some breakfast somewhere?”

“Sure, do you want the first shower or what?” Tricia asked.

Mary Beth let the sheet slide off from around her and smiled, “We could take one together. I’d wash your back and you could wash mine.”

It was Tricia’s turn to blush. Flustered she wasn’t sure what to say. Then Mary Beth picked up the sheet, wrapped it around her again and laughed out loud. “Ok now we’re even. You should have seen the look on your face. I’m not sure I ever saw anybody turn that red. I’ll take the first shower if you don’t mind. I need to pee anyway. You already did.”

Then she went to pick out her clothes for the day, dodging as Tricia threw a pillow at her.



After breakfast Mary Beth wanted to play a slot machine. Tricia was willing to watch but wasn’t going to contribute to the casino that way. Shortly after Mary Beth started Tricia’s phone rang and she saw it was Matt. She’d tried to call him while Mary Beth had been taking her shower but, as usual, she’d gotten his voice mail. She wasn’t sure what to expect from him now. He’d seemed fine with her going but you never knew.

“How are you two doing?” he asked, just making small talk which for Matt, was a little unusual.

“We’re fine,” Tricia told him and gave him a brief capsule of the night, leaving out the drinks with the guys and just saying that after they played they had a couple of drinks in one of the bars to unwind before bed.

“And is Mary Beth behaving herself?” Matt asked.

“Afraid she’s going to lead me astray?” Tricia asked playfully. Yes Mary Beth flirted but as far as Tricia knew she’d never been unfaithful to Dutch. “Or are you afraid I’ll lead her astray?”

“Very funny Tricia,” Matt said, obviously not thinking it was funny at all. “You know I trust you or I wouldn’t have been so willing to have you go. You know how Mary Beth flirts though. Considering the way she and Dutch aren’t getting along that well lately I just think she could get herself into trouble flirting like she does.”

“It’s just fun for her,” Tricia said, wondering why he even cared. It wasn’t like he and Mary Beth had ever even gotten along all that well. On the other hand they had worked together ok putting Tricia’s surprise together while she was at the first tournament.

“I know she means it that way Tricia but I think you should keep an eye on her. Those things can start out innocent but the guy may not take it that way and she is a little vulnerable right now don’t you think?”

Tricia chuckled. “Have you been watching Oprah or Dr. Phil, Matt?”

“Cute Tricia,” Matt said with a chuckle that sounded forced to Tricia.

“Why are you so worried about her?” Tricia asked.

“You should be too,” Matt told her. “She’s your friend. I know Dutch is being a bit of an asshole lately but he and Mary Beth are our friends and it seems to me we owe it to them to help where we can.”

“Well that’s why she’s here with me, to kind of recharge so that maybe things will be better when she gets back.” Tricia pointed out. “Or did you really want her here to keep an eye on me? Maybe you don’t trust me as much as I thought.”

“I don’t deserve that,” Matt said, sounding genuinely hurt to Tricia’s thinking. “I think I’ve shown a great deal of trust.”

“You’re right honey,” Tricia said contritely. “I’m sorry. I’m worried about Mary Beth too. I want her and Dutch to work things out. I promise I’ll do my best to keep her on the straight and narrow here ok?”


“Maybe you could have dinner or something with Dutch. Sort of have some guy talk. Hell I don’t see why you didn’t plan a fishing trip for this weekend coming up. It’s not too late.”

“Well I tried. Dutch said his business is shit and he can’t take time off,” Matt said. “Frankly I don’t see how it can be that bad. I know he’s got plenty of work. He’s fed me enough. He didn’t want to talk about it last time I tried.”

“Mary Beth says he’s been hitting some bar most nights for a couple of hours before he finally comes home. Maybe you can find out which one and have a couple of drinks with him some night.”

“Probably some dive, you know Dutch, northern redneck through and through.”

“Well give it some thought honey. If you’re really worried about him and Mary Beth it’s worth a shot. He’s your fishing buddy after all.”

“Yeah I know. Ok, I’ll see what I can do.”

“Listen Tricia I’ve got another call and I have to take it. I’ll talk to you later. Have fun and good luck. Love you.” Matt said.

He had hung up before he even heard Tricia’s “Love you too.” All in all a strange conversation Tricia thought as she went back to where Mary Beth was still playing her slot machine. It seemed to her that he’d sounded funny when she’d been out of town the last time. She’d since chalked that up to him working on her sun porch with very little time to get it done. Now she wondered. Surely he wasn’t planning another surprise. If it turned out that he was then she was definitely going to have to go to more tournaments. That didn’t feel right to her. She couldn’t put a finger on what seemed off.

“Matt?” Mary Beth asked, seeing Tricia come back.

Tricia nodded. “Yeah and he was acting weird. He didn’t seem worried about me at all. He was mostly worried about you.”

Mary Beth didn’t turn from the slot machine, she just said, “That is weird.”

“Yeah,” Tricia said. “And I don’t think Dutch put him up to it either.”

“He probably did,” Mary Beth said quickly. “I know they’re not best friends but when you hang out camping and hunting and fishing and doing all that guy crap they do I’m sure they cover each other’s backs.”

“Did Dutch ask about me?” Tricia asked.

Mary Beth shook her head. “Nope, just checking on me. I just told him we had drinks, not who with. You didn’t tell Matt about Ben and his buddies did you?”

“Nah, not that it would hurt but I didn’t see any reason to open that can of worms.” Tricia said. “Besides he didn’t push once I said we had drinks. Mostly he just worried you’d get in trouble flirting.”

“Matt said that?” Mary Beth asked, with a look mostly of surprise on her face as she turned around.

“Yeah, weird huh?”

“Yeah,” Mary Beth said distractedly, turning back to her slot machine.

Before Tricia could pursue it further the machine began to bing, bonk and flash wildly.

“Holy shit!” Mary Beth said. “I think I hit the jackpot!”

Tricia looked at it. “Well you hit a jackpot! Good job!”

“I think it’s $4,000!” Mary Beth said, jumping up and grabbing Tricia and doing a kind of happy dance that Tricia was afraid was going to dislocate her shoulders.

“Don’t kill me!” Tricia said with a laugh. And don’t hate me but that is a nickel machine. I think you just won 4,000 nickels.”

“How much is 4,000 nickels?” Mary Beth, not the greatest of math whizzes, asked.

Tricia thought briefly and said, “$200.”

“Well cool!” Mary Beth said. “It’s not as much as you won at poker last night but it’s not bad!”

“Not bad at all,” Tricia agreed, smiling at a giddy Mary Beth.

“How do I get the money?” Mary Beth asked.

“You’re going to quit?”

“Hell yeah! If I keep playing it’ll take it all back. I’m going to take the money and run sister!” Mary Beth said emphatically.

They looked at the machine, found the cash out button and pressed it.

“What the hell?” Mary Beth said taking the ticket that came out of a slot. “You don’t get real money?”

“You really wanted 4,000 nickels?” Tricia asked with a smile.

“Well I remember way back going to a casino and that’s what you got. You put them in those buckets and took them to a cashier. I liked hearing them come out of the machine and liked scooping them into the buckets.”

“Well that’s progress I guess,” Tricia said. “I think you take that ticket to one of those machines they have around to get your money.”

“Oh well,” Mary Beth said. “The coins did get your hands all nasty and you usually had to stand in line to cash them in.”

“True and this will spend just as well.”

“You got that right. Dinner tonight is on me!” Mary Beth said.

Tricia laughed. “Dinner tonight is on the casino. Don’t you remember we got comps when we left last night?”

“Oh yeah!” Mary Beth said. “God I love this. Play a little, win $200, get free food.”

Tricia laughed again as she and Mary Beth went off to cash in Mary Beth’s ticket. “Remember though that you can also lose money, so watch it.”

“Yeah I know,” Mary Beth said. “That’s why I brought a set amount to play with. But I think my luck is hot. I just think this is gonna be a great week. It will be for you too I bet. You just wait and see!”

“Maybe,” Tricia said. “I hope so.”

Friday, November 9, 2007

Chapter 53

Tricia finally got a very ‘happy’ Mary Beth into the room. Mary Beth immediately flopped onto the bed and lay on her stomach propping up her head with her chin in her hands.

“That was a blast!” Mary Beth said. “I mean the whole damn night! I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. Weren’t the guys great?”

Tricia gave her an indulgent smile, happy to see her friend feeling good. “It was a lot of fun. I’m not much on flirting like you can though. I enjoyed the poker more.”

“Well you did great! You even finished ahead three hundred bucks! I had fun playing even if I lost a little but it was more fun sitting in the bar shooting the bull with the guys. Ben was pretty hot wasn’t he?”

Tricia chuckled. “He was pretty good looking. He was also well over a decade younger than I am and probably nearly young enough to be your son.”

“Well hell,” Mary Beth pouted. “Why do you have to remind me? Tonight I felt young again. Young and attractive.”

“You’re very attractive Mary Beth.”

“But not young?”

Tricia laughed and shrugged.

“Oh hell I know. And yeah Ben was damn near young enough to be my son but I think he really liked me.”

“I think he liked the cleavage you were showing,” Tricia pointed out. “Especially by the time you got to the bar and another button or two ‘accidentally’ came unbuttoned.”

“Oh hell! That wasn’t no accident! If you’ve got it flaunt it girl! You should do more of that. You have nice tits, you ought to show off more.”

Tricia looked at Mary Beth in amusement. This was a side of her Tricia had not really ever seen. “I’m a married woman. I’m not supposed to show off. I should remind you I guess that you’re married too.”

Mary Beth snorted. “I guess you could call it a marriage. Besides girl it don’t matter. It makes me feel sexy knowing guys are looking at me. It doesn’t mean I am going to do anything about it.”

“Well you were showing off enough tonight for sure. You’re telling me that if Ben had asked you wouldn’t have done anything?”

Mary Beth curled up in a paroxysm of laughter and when she could talk again looked at Tricia with a grin. “Well I’m here with you aren’t I?”

Tricia felt her jaw drop. “Are you telling me he did ask you to fool around?”

Mary Beth, grinning broadly, nodded. “Oh yeah. He had some damn good sounding suggestions too. You were so busy talking to Josh and Chuck about poker. They liked you too you know. Ben told me that Josh thought you were pretty hot.”

Tricia wasn’t sure what to say to those two revelations, finally she decided that the first was more important.

“You turned Ben down?” Tricia asked.

“Why do you sound so surprised?” Mary Beth asked with a grin. “You’re the one who pointed out that not only am I married but that he is a lot younger than I am.”

“But the way you were acting I thought for sure if one of them made a pass at you that you’d take them up on it.”

“I didn’t say it wasn’t tempting,” Mary Beth grinned. “It was flattering as hell. I mean shit, I know he is young and all but he was damn good looking and it might well have been fun. I deserve a little fun I think.”

“It would be flattering,” Tricia said, treading carefully. “I told you that you were attractive. I just don’t want to see you do something you’d regret.”

“Like you and Jaime?” Mary Beth asked. “Hell at least there is no way I’d get caught here. I know you wouldn’t tell Dutch. Would you?”

Tricia had to think about that for a second but she already knew the answer. She shook her head. “No but please be careful.”

Mary Beth rolled over onto her back and looked back at Tricia upside down. “I’ll be careful honey. I didn’t come here to fool around. I swear. I came here to spend time with you and watch you in the tournaments. It was just flattering to have somebody like Ben interested in me is all. You can understand that can’t you?”

Tricia had to nod. She did understand of course. Ben wasn’t her type and none of the three of them tonight had done that much for her. She thought back though to Indiana and Rick, and how she’d felt seeing Jaime. What right did she have to tell Mary Beth to be careful? Maybe she should tell Mary Beth about Rick and even Jaime and have Mary Beth keep an eye on her. Who knew if another Rick would come along this time too.

Not for the first time she began to wonder if maybe something was wrong with her like Matt had said after the thing with Jaime blew up.

“Earth to Tricia!”

Tricia looked up, startled. Mary Beth was back on her stomach looking at her. “Huh?”

“You were gone somewhere girl. Didn’t look like a fun place either from the frown on your face. You ok?”

Tricia nodded. “Yeah I was just thinking.”

“I’m sorry I mentioned Jaime. He still hurts you huh? Even after all these years.”

Tricia shrugged. “No not really. Not the way you mean I think.”

Then, changing the subject Tricia said, “Do you want the bathroom first or should I?”

“Go ahead,” Mary Beth said, stretching languidly across the bed. “I want to lie here and enjoy my buzz.”

“Are you going to take a shower tonight?”

Mary Beth shook her head. “No, in the morning. Don’t want anything to interfere with my buzz. We’re not getting up early are we?”

“I don’t plan to.”

“Good,” Mary Beth said then pointed to the bathroom, “Go.”

Tricia went, snagging her oversized sleep shirt off the foot of the bed on the way.

When she got back out Mary Beth popped up and headed for the bathroom. While Tricia had been in the bathroom Mary Beth had changed as well. What she had changed into made Tricia take another look. Mary Beth didn’t seem to notice as she made her way to the bathroom. Tricia owned some nighties that sexy but hadn’t even contemplated bringing one of them.

Tricia slid under the covers on the other bed. The sheets felt nice and cool and Tricia felt herself relaxing and just about ready to go to sleep. Her mind went back to the bar and how she’d missed what Ben had apparently said to Mary Beth.

Mary Beth was, Tricia thought, very good looking and not just for her age. Mary Beth was around ten years older than Tricia who, not for the first time, hoped that she’d look at good at that age. Tricia snorted at the thought, hell she didn’t look as good now as Mary Beth did, no telling what she’d look like in ten more years.

“What’s so funny?” Mary Beth said coming out of the bathroom. She crossed to her bed and slid under the covers. Reaching to turn the light out. Tricia’s was already off so the room was plunged into darkness.

“Come on,” Mary Beth repeated when Tricia didn’t answer. “What’s so funny?”

Tricia shook her head then realized Mary Beth couldn’t see her. “It doesn’t matter.”

“Sure it does. Out with it!”

Tricia gave in, knowing Mary Beth was not likely to. “I found myself hoping that I’d look as good as you do when I’m your age, not that you’re old. But then I realized that I don’t look as good as you do now so there is no telling what I’ll look like when I’m ten years older.”

“Oh hell! You look great! You look great now and you’ll look great in ten years and in twenty.”


“What brought that on?” Mary Beth asked, sounding like she had sobered up pretty much.

Tricia gave a shrug she knew Mary Beth could not see. “Just thinking about tonight I guess.”

“You mean because neither Josh or Chuck made a pass at you? Or because Ben was paying attention to me?”

“No. Not that at all, well not really,” Tricia said.

“Well then what?”

“I can’t say.”

“Oh come on,” Mary Beth said. “What can’t you say to me? You can say anything at all to me. You know that.”

Tricia sighed. “I was just thinking about how much Ben, and every other male who’s eyes worked, was looking at you tonight. And then seeing that nightie you’re wearing, well it never even occurred to me to bring something like that. Hell it’s like I’m an old lady or something.”

“Oh hell! Don’t give me that. So you like to dress more conservatively than I do. Does it bother you the way I was dressed tonight? If so I’m sorry,” Mary Beth said. “Maybe I crossed the line later unbuttoning those next two buttons but you really couldn’t see much, maybe it gave the guys a little peek at my bra is all. That’s no different than a bikini top, right?”

“It didn’t bother me,” Tricia said. “I guess if anything I wish I could do it. I don’t know why I don’t. I just don’t.”

“Honey, I just do it because it makes me feel sexy and when I feel sexy I feel good. I know when I can’t do it and I’m careful but I thought tonight was a good time to try to sort of let my hair down some you know?”

“I know Mary Beth and you’re right.”

“You really didn’t DO anything on your last trip?” Mary Beth asked, then quickly added, “Hell I didn’t mean that like it came out. I guess you learned your lesson when that whole mess happened with Jaime which is too bad. What I meant was nobody even flirted with you or anything? All those parties and all that drinking and I’d have thought somebody would have. You really are good looking and a lot of fun to talk to.”

“Thanks,” Tricia said, then without really thinking, maybe because it was Mary Beth after all, she said, “Well there was one guy…”

“Oh! Now we’re getting somewhere!” Mary Beth said.

The next thing Tricia knew Mary Beth had plopped down beside her on the bed and in the dim light coming around the curtains Tricia could see Mary Beth eagerly looking at her. “Tell me about this guy.”

Tricia was not sure she wanted to tell the story about Rick. She wasn’t worried about Mary Beth telling anyone. She knew that wouldn’t happen. She worried more what Mary Beth would think, although it sounded like she’d almost like it if something had happened.

“You ask that like you hope I fooled around with somebody.” Tricia said.

Mary Beth shrugged. “Maybe I do. Hell Tricia neither of us are all that thrilled about the way our husbands treat us sometimes, working all hours then coming home and falling asleep in front of the tube. At least yours doesn’t spend a couple hours in a bar most nights after work before coming home half drunk and falling right asleep. Maybe I hoped you got some. I mean what the hell, if you did it didn’t hurt anything. You and Matt seem fine, as good as ever.”

“I guess.” Tricia said then going back to what Mary Beth had said about Dutch she said, “I didn’t know he was coming home drunk most nights Mary Beth.”

Tricia could feel Mary Beth shrug. “Hell I’m used to it. At least he isn’t a mean drunk. I mean he has never hit me. Good thing for him cuz if he did I’d clean his clock.”

Tricia chuckled at that, knowing that even with their big size difference Mary Beth probably would indeed clean Dutch’s clock if he ever hit her. “I know we don’t get along and I’m sorry he is spending as little time with you as Matt is with me but he’s not really a bad guy.”

Mary Beth sighed. “No he’s not. I love the idiot. I also hate him sometimes though.”

“Well that’s normal.”

“Yeah I guess it is,” Mary Beth said. “But shit when he comes home half drunk he gets all lovey dovey and then most of the time falls asleep after he gets me all riled up, even if he doesn’t he usually can’t get it up. Then he gets all down on himself. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I don’t do it for him anymore.”

“Oh bullshit,” Tricia said. “It’s coming home drunk. Even Matt sometimes has trouble if we’ve been drinking. Dutch didn’t tell you it was your fault did he?”

“Oh no!” Mary Beth said. “He just gets down on himself. Then he’ll start in on how I’m going to leave him for somebody younger. Hell I don’t want to train another husband at my age. I just got Dutch where he mostly picks up his clothes and usually puts the seat down.”

Tricia chuckled.

“Sometimes I envy you though.” Mary Beth said.


“The fling you had with Jaime,” Mary Beth said. “Do you ever wish it had come out different? I mean you told me how you guys always said neither of you wanted to leave your spouses, that you just wanted something more. Can that really work?”

“Apparently not.” Tricia said with a sigh.

“Yeah. I guess not,” Mary Beth said. “Maybe I should have taken Ben up on his very inventive offers. Would you hate me if I had? I don’t want you thinking I’m a slut of something.”

“I don’t. I couldn’t,” Tricia said. “I’d worry about you. It can really get things messed up. I mean look what happened when Matt found out about Jaime. He didn’t trust me for years. Hell I’m still not sure he really does.”

“He is letting you go to poker tournaments,” Mary Beth said sleepily. “He must trust you.”

“Maybe he just doesn’t care anymore.”

“He cares honey. I know he does.” Mary Beth said.

Tricia lay for a couple of minutes thinking about that and then heard Mary Beth gently snoring and knew she’d fallen asleep. Tricia debated moving to the other bed and then just shrugged and rolled over and was quickly asleep herself.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Chapter 52

Back at the table Tricia continued to play her solid, grinding style, patiently waiting for good hands and good spots to play. It gave her a lot of time to think, especially since Mary Beth was now sitting behind Ben and talking mostly to him.

What amazed Tricia when she thought of it was that here she was, in town only a few hours, and she’d already met two new people. Granted neither of them was every going to become a close friend more than likely but it was still more new people than she’d meet in a month at home in her ‘normal’ life.

That started her thinking of what her still young foray into poker had brought her, friends, fun and new found confidence in herself. That, she felt, had carried over into her home life and she knew she’d been a better mom to Matty and probably even a better wife. At least she’d been more tolerant of Matt’s continual late hours and inattention when he was there. She’d tried at least.

In a blaze of horrible play and a horrible attitude the guy to Tricia’s right who’d been riding her from time to time finally went out. Tricia’s main regret was in not having taken him out herself. It was a new player at the table who’d not even known how bad a player he was who really had just gotten lucky. Tricia could almost feel sorry for her nemesis in a way because for once he really had been sucked out on, starting with the best hand and losing to a very improbable draw. It was, however, justice in a way because of the way the guy had played all night.

When the dealer announced the empty seat to the woman behind the podium she called back that there was no list, meaning that seat was vacant until somebody else came along.

Tricia could not resist needling Mary Beth a little. She was flirting with Ben hot and heavy now and amusing Tricia and most of the rest of the table.

“Hey Mary Beth. Why don’t you take this seat. I know you know how to play.” Tricia said to her friend with a grin.

“I told you I just wanted to watch you tonight,” Mary Beth said.

Before Tricia could say a word Jacob looked at them, grinned and said, “Funny way of watching your friend, sitting there drooling on that poor guy.”

Mary Beth turned red and sputtered, “I’m not drooling on him!”

“Not much anyway,” Tricia said. “Come on Mary Beth. You’ve watched long enough. Get in the game.”

“Yeah Mary Beth,” Ben said. “It’ll be fun. You’ll see.”

Most of the guys at the table began to encourage Mary Beth with humorous jabs. In the end she gave up and agreed. The dealer called, “Player in” to the woman behind the podium who just shrugged and nodded.

Mary Beth took the seat and bought in for a hundred dollars. Then she looked over at Tricia and glared. “When I go broke it will be all your fault.”

“Not if you play the way I showed you,” Tricia said with a grin. “If you don’t then it’s your fault not mine.”

Mary Beth played somewhat timidly at first but began to warm to the occasion when the first hand she played won without a contest.

An hour passed and Mary Beth seemed to Tricia to be playing well. She was definitely having fun and being the life of the party at the table which was being a lot louder than any near them. It was the fun kind of table that Tricia loved. It loosened the players up when they were having fun and made things easier for her as a rule.

Tricia was starting to get tired though, it was after ten at night and they’d been on the road at six that morning. She began to start to set the stage to try to get Mary Beth ready to leave and go to bed.

Mary Beth was resisting subtle hints though and Tricia resorted to just telling Mary Beth that she needed to quit soon because she was getting tired. Mary Beth resisted that too and Ben was helping her, encouraging Mary Beth to want to stay.

Then a couple of Ben’s buddies showed up. They were around the same age, under 30 anyway. Apparently they’d been playing single table satellites with little success anyway. Ben introduced them to Mary Beth and Tricia as Josh and Chuck. They zeroed right in on Mary Beth although Josh seemed to like Tricia and was trying to flirt with her.

When Tricia once again tried to get the message across to Mary Beth that she wanted to leave the guys started trying to get them to go have some drinks with them first. Mary Beth was all for it of course. Tricia really didn’t want to. Not only was she tired but she didn’t want to start her stint here with a party.

“Oh come on Tricia!” Mary Beth said, pouting. “You got to have a big party for you when you won that WSOP thingy. This may be the only shot I get to have anybody want to have a party for me.”

“They don’t want to have a party for you,” Tricia pointed out. “They want to have a party with you, more to the point with us and I am tired Mary Beth.”

“You won a WSOP event?” Ben asked Tricia.

Tricia looked around most of the guys at the table had zeroed in on that. Damn, she thought, talk about not remaining inconspicuous and failing to appear to be just another fish.

“I didn’t win,” Tricia said. “I was second in the ladies event in Indiana recently.”

“Well damn,” Ben said. “That’s close to winning, damn close. No wonder you’re cleaning our clocks tonight.”

Tricia smiled. She had been doing well. She’d colored up her chips as she went so she didn’t have a huge stack of dollar chips like some people liked. When she added it up though she was around $300 ahead, not bad for a $4/$8 game.

“I thought you looked familiar,” Jacob said, smiling at Tricia. “My wife was at your starting table in that tournament. You ended up knocking her out just before the first break but she said you were real nice about it.”

“Oh geez. I’m sorry.” Tricia said, a little embarrassed.

“She said you were a good player too,” Jacob said. “And from what I saw later I’d agree. She made me stick around and watch the final table. It was a lot of fun too. You came damn close to winning. I still think Carmen Cruz got lucky.”

Tricia felt herself blush a little. “No she is a good player. I didn’t get outplayed as badly as I could have but she definitely outplayed me a bit. She deserved to win.”

“We saw you later in one of the bars and I was going to congratulate you but Shelly, that’s my wife, didn’t want to bother you. I figured that might have been my only chance to talk to Kevin James in the flesh too. I guess you know him since you two were laughing about something or other and looked like you know each other pretty well.”

“You know Kevin James?” Ben asked. “Is he going to be here?”

“I just met him at that tournament and don’t know him all that well really,” Tricia said. “And no, he’s not going to be here.”

“Oh come on Tricia,” Mary Beth said. “You must know him pretty well. He came to your house and visited you. He’s the one that told you about this tournament. I was at dinner with you when he did.”

“Are you kidding?” Ben’s friend Josh asked. “Man I gotta hear about this. Just come have a couple of drinks with us. Our treat. I want to hear about this.”

“I don’t know,” Tricia said. “I’m really tired. I didn’t come here to party anyway.”

“Just a couple of drinks,” Ben said. “Mary Beth wants to. Come on Tricia. A couple drinks will help you sleep better.’

“Please Tricia?” Mary Beth asked in a pleading tone, holding onto Tricia’s arm and looking at her with big puppy dog eyes.

Tricia gave a disgusted sigh, knowing she could not deny that to Mary Beth. She was such a sucker for those looks. She hoped to hell Matty didn’t figure it out or she was doomed.

“Ok. I give up. I’ll go.” Tricia said. Then she looked at Jacob. “Would you like to go too?”

She thought he looked like a nice stabilizing influence on the three younger guys and besides she liked him better than any of them anyway.

“Thanks but I think I’ll stay here. Now that the table pro is leaving maybe I can make some money.” Jacob said with a grin. “But I’m sure I’ll see you around. I’m here for the tournament too.”

“Well ok,” Tricia said. “Good luck. Is your wife here with you?”

“She’s flying in later in the week, she couldn’t get the time off work.”

“Ok well I’m sure I’ll see you again Jacob.” Tricia said.

She and Mary Beth and Ben racked their chips and cashed out. Mary Beth had lost a bit but was so happy at the prospect of drinks with the guys that she didn’t seem to care.

Ben, Josh and Chuck led them right to a barinside the casino. When they sat down and ordered Tricia asked, “Are you all locals? You seem to know your way around here pretty well.’

Josh nodded. “Yeah we’re all from Rome.”

“Italy?” Mary Beth asked.

Josh laughed. “Rome, New York. It’s about 15 minutes north east of here.”

“Oh,” Mary Beth giggled.

Tricia looked at her and smiled. She sounded like she’d already had a couple of drinks and while she had taken a big slug of her first one there was no way she was drunk yet. Being tired might account for part of it but mostly it was Mary Beth trying, and succeeding Tricia admitted, to play the dumb blonde.

Tricia saw something that made her quickly look back at Mary Beth and then lean over and whisper in her ear. “I suppose you know that at least one button on your blouse appears to have become accidentally unbuttoned.”

“Wasn’t no damn accident,” Mary Beth whispered back. “I think Ben liked it.”

Tricia chuckled. Of course Ben liked it. Ben was a young guy. Even though Mary Beth was probably 20 years older than he was there was no doubt that Ben, and the other two, were enjoying the show Mary Beth was putting on. Oh well, Tricia thought, if you have it you might as well flaunt it. Tricia had no such plans herself but she wasn’t going to spoil Mary Beth’s fun.

While Mary Beth flirted with the guys and put on her cute dumb blonde act. Tricia talked poker with them. They got the story of how she met Kevin James out of her. She managed to avoid talking about Jaime although one of the guys mentioned his name. When that happened she had looked over to see if Mary Beth picked up on it. By that time Mary Beth had had enough drinks that she might not have been having to act slightly sloshed and she apparently missed the reference to Jaime completely.

Tricia stopped at two drinks and switched to water but had to admit she did have fun. It was fun watching Mary Beth have fun with the guys. She’d seen Mary Beth like this before at parties but it was nice to know that Dutch wouldn’t be ruining it like he usually did. Typically he’d be doing his own flirting with the ladies at the party, Tricia knew because she’d been the recipient of a couple of undesired passes from him. In the end he’d tire of it and then get mad at Mary Beth for flirting too and would start a tiff and they’d end up leaving. She didn’t know why Dutch couldn’t just get her to leave a party by saying he was ready to go home.

Tricia was getting really sleepy and it was almost midnight. This time when she mentioned how tired she was Josh pointed out to Ben that they all had to work in the morning. To Mary Beth’s disappointment they all agreed they needed to get going.

“Don’t worry Mary Beth,” Ben said. “We’ll be back. We’re all playing the tournaments, or most of them but they don’t start until Wednesday. We still have to work tomorrow.”

With hugs all around, big hugs for and from Mary Beth and much more restrained hugs from Tricia who tried not to get groped, they parted and Tricia steered Mary Beth toward their room.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chapter 51

The first hand that Tricia really played was a suited Ace King from the button. She had a super strong hand, four other players building a pot for her and good position to play from. Unfortunately the flop missed her completely and then the first player to act bet out and was immediately raised by the next player. Another player then cold-called the raise. Tricia liked the size of the pot but based on the flop and the action she didn’t think that an ace or a king even if they hit, would win so she reluctantly folded.

Hopefully, she thought, losing the first hand she played was not going to set a negative tone for the evening. The hand was won by the big blind with the silly kind of hand Tricia knew she could expect to see a lot of in a low limit game, especially a nice loose one like this was showing itself to be.

The guy who won, a guy maybe in his late 20’s, managed at least to look a little sheepish at what he’d played and looked at her, shrugged and said, “sorry about that but I was already half in because of the big blind.”

“No problem,” Tricia said. “Nice hand.”

“Big Slick?” the guy asked in a friendly manner.

“Suited,” Mary Beth chimed in.

Tricia turned around and gave her a hard look, she hated to give out information about her hands if she didn’t have to.

“Sorry,” Mary Beth said quietly in her ear. Then she giggled. “He’s kinda cute isn’t he?”

“You can go sit with him if you’d rather. Then you can tell me what he threw away.” Tricia was not really mad at Mary Beth, more just irked, she knew, at the poker gods.

“Aww I’m sorry. I won’t do it again.” Mary Beth sounded genuinely sorry.

“I know you won’t and I’m not mad at you. It’s just frustrating. Part of the game though so you have to get used to it.”

“That’s what you always tell me,” Mary Beth said.

“Where are you ladies from?” the guy asked a couple of hands later while they were waiting for the dealer.

“Cincinnati,” Tricia said.

“Here for the tournament?”

“Tricia here is,” Mary Beth said. Then she leaned past the guy to Tricia’s immediate left and held her hand out. “I’m Mary Beth.”

“I’m happy to meet you Mary Beth. You too Tricia. I’m Ben.” He shook Mary Beth’s hand and then held his hand out to Tricia who shook it too.

“So Mary Beth are you here for the tournament?”

“Oh no! That’s Tricia’s thing. She’s the pro. I’m just along for the ride.”

Tricia laughed. “I’m no pro. Mary Beth plays but is being uncharacteristically shy tonight.”

The play continued and as luck would have it the next hand that Tricia got involved with was won by somebody else. Tricia began to wonder if maybe it wasn’t meant to be that evening although she knew it was still way too early to tell.

Ben continued to talk to Tricia and Mary Beth, even sliding over into the seat next to them when the player who had been between them got up. Mostly, Tricia realized, Ben was talking to Mary Beth and they were starting to flirt a fair amount. She felt a tiny flash of jealousy and told herself it was silly. She was there to play poker and not only was Ben kind of young but wasn’t her type anyway. After she had that thought Tricia laughed at herself and thought, just focus on the poker Tricia.

Patience finally paid off when she picked up pocket aces on the button. The bad news was that there were already five players in the pot and pocket aces was not a hand Tricia wanted to play against more than half the table, they were much stronger against only one or two other players.

She raised and to her consternation Ben, who she’d thought was a good player, cold called from the small blind. With so many players in it was inevitable that the big blind would call but he surprised Tricia by raising. The good news was that with aces she knew she was ahead at the moment and that with two bets to call now maybe some of the limpers would fold.

As, one by on, they called the two bets Tricia told herself she had been dreaming. In a low limit game like this once players had any money in a pot at all before the flop they tended to stay with it.

When it got to her she shrugged tossed out her call and the last raise on top and said, “Might as well cap it.”

“Now we’ve got a pot,” Ben said making the call.

The big blind called but didn’t look nearly as happy Tricia thought.

The flop came down with a big beautiful ace in it giving Tricia a set of aces. She hoped Mary Beth would be able to keep cool, if she’d even seen Tricia’s hand since she’d been in mid-flirt with Ben when the action had started on this hand. There was also a ten and two diamonds as part of the flop and the ace of diamonds was one of those so Tricia had no part of any possible diamond draw.

The big blind bet out after Ben checked. A couple of players called and the player to Tricia’s right raised. She looked over at him and he looked back and said, “just fold honey, you’re not going to win this one either.”

Tricia grinned at him and threw in the chips to cold call the raise. “Maybe I can run you down.” She knew she wasn’t behind at the moment since her set of aces was the nuts. She was pretty sure that the big blind was going to raise again though, she was almost sure that he had hit a set also. Her bet for the player to her right was that he was raising on a flush draw, probably, she thought, king with some crap kicker like he’d been playing all night.

Ben finally woke up and smelled the roses and tossed his cards in the muck, giving Mary Beth a shrug and getting the sympathy from her that he’d obviously hoped for. Tricia smiled, Mary Beth had not seen her hand and when she whispered that to Tricia, Tricia had whispered back. “Wait for it.”

The big blind raised just as Tricia thought, the players between him and the guy on Tricia’s right went away. Sure enough the guy to her right did the macho thing and capped the pot. Then he said to Tricia, “Now Honey, don’t throw good money after bad. You have to be beat.”

She tossed in the chips trying to look like she had to think about it. “I think I can run you down.”  

The turn card was the deuce of diamonds putting the third diamond out and giving Tricia the nut full house. All that could beat her was if the big blind had the other two deuces and she knew he would not have played the way he did pre-flop with pocket deuces. Predictably he bet out, Tricia was sure he now had a full house with tens full of deuces. Also predictably the player on her right raised making it two bets. She thought about raising now but decided to hold off and try to get one in on the river, knowing that it could cost her money to try to get cute.

The guy in the big blind looked at her curiously. “I’m not worried about him,” the guy said meaning the player to Tricia’s right who she could feel bristling at the words, “I don’t think you’ve got me beat though, there are only two hands that can beat me. Are you on a Royal Flush draw? Well I gotta raise.” He tossed out the chips to raise.

The player to Tricia’s right beat him in the pot with his chips as he announced, “Cap it.”

That made three rounds capped, a very unusual occurance and making for a huge pot. Tricia actually sat back and thought about her hand a moment. She didn’t have the nuts, that would be four deuces. Could one of the other two have that? If the big blind, who’d been thinking out loud, had not been snowing her he didn’t have it. On the other hand if he did then what he said would have been a good smoke screen. But, Tricia thought, I do have the second nuts now and all that can beat me is the other two deuces. Of course it was possible that the guy to her right had hit the nut flush with a royal draw and could beat her if he made his royal but there was such a slim chance of that it wasn’t worth worrying about. She had to call and she did.

Mary Beth was now hanging on Tricia’s shoulder with nervousness radiating from her.

The river, incredibly, brought the last ace. It was actually a card Tricia was disappointed to see. She knew the big blind was likely to put her on an ace giving her aces full and probably would not bet.

He gave her a disgusted look and tapped the table. The guy to Tricia’s right though, incredibly bet. The guy in the big blind gave him a long look and shook his head as Tricia took one more look at the board, picked up some chips. Then picked up enough for a raise and looked at the guy to her right.

“I don’t think you’ve got the ace,” Tricia said. “I raise.”

With a sigh the big blind sailed his hand into the muck saying, “I think I got rivered.”

The guy to on Tricia’s right was now looking disgusted. “Shit. You did river that boat didn’t you? Well crap. Ok I can’t raise but I gotta call you.”

He did so and said, “Show me your ace.”

“Which one?” Tricia said as she turned them over one by one, “This one or this one.”

“Goddammit I knew you rivered me,” The guy to her right said, disgustedly turning up a King and five of diamonds for a nut flush. “I had you until the river, damn lucky stupid women players.”

Tricia could feel Mary Beth radiating anger behind her and nudged her to get her not to say anything.

The player who had been in the big blind looked over at her and said, “Very nice hand ma’am.”

“It was shit luck,” The guy to Tricia’s right said.

The big blind guy, finally snapped. “You idiot she was ahead before the flop, flopped the nuts, turned the nut full house beating your king, rag nut flush, she didn’t need the river ace and it probably cost her a bet because I had tens full and without that ace I’d have bet out and you probably would have three bet letting her cap with her quads. Stop whining about her getting lucky. You were in third place the entire hand.”

That settled the guy to her right down some.

“You owe the lady an apology,” The big blind guy told the guy to Tricia’s right.

The guy just snorted.

“Don’t let him get to you,” The big blind guy said to Tricia.

“Ok, I’ll try not to.” Tricia said hoping to simmer them both down because the way the guy to her right played the last thing she wanted to do was have him leave.

Mary Beth was hopping up and down on her chair and slapping Tricia on the shoulders. Tricia turned around and grinned at her. “Ok so I finally won a pot. Try not to kill me huh?”

Mary Beth laughed and gently patted Tricia where she’d been pounding on her. “That was exciting. I couldn’t help myself. Why didn’t you let me see?”

“Probably because she knew you would give it away”, the guy to her right said snidely.

Tricia elbowed Mary Beth before she could retort. Then she decided she needed to settle Mary Beth back down and let the table simmer down. She hated to get up after winning a big hand but she really didn’t want the idiot to her right to get mad and leave while he still had money.

She got up and pulled Mary Beth with her. “Deal around me please,” She said to the dealer tossing him an oversized tip because it had been such a big pot.

“Don’t let that guy get to you Mary Beth. We don’t want to get him mad and make him leave. He’s got money and he’s not afraid to put it in on weak hands. Remember what I told you about that.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Mary Beth said. “Don’t tap on the aquarium, it scares the fish.”


Mary Beth talked excitedly about the hand for a minute or two and Tricia could not help but smile at her. She was excited too of course, it had come together perfectly and had been a huge pot but it was still just one hand.

As Mary Beth was winding down the guy who had been in the big blind came up to her. “That was an excellent hand. You played it well. I could not put you on a hand for sure. Then I thought maybe you had ace king. I know you capped pre-flop but lots of people will do that with ace king from the button and the ace on the flop would have hit you. I can’t believe that guy pushed that hard with his nut flush draw.”

“Thank you,” Tricia said. “I can’t believe the way he played it either but I’m glad he did and hope he keeps it up. I was telling Mary Beth to be careful not to piss him off. We don’t want him to leave.”

“What do you mean?” The guy asked. “He’s a pain in the ass and he was insulting you.”

Tricia shrugged. “Well that is true. I wouldn’t want to spend time with him anywhere but a poker table. I don’t care much what he says about my play as long as I’m scooping the pots. He’ll do that again you know, overplay some weak ass hand. You might win the next one. That’s why I say we don’t want him gone. Just tune him out.”

“I have more trouble tuning him out than you do I guess.”

“You must not be married,” Tricia said with a grin causing Mary Beth to laugh.

“Huh?” The guy asked.

“Nope, not married,” Mary Beth said.

“I’m really kidding. I’m sure if you were married you would never just tune out your wife if she whined like that guy has been.” Tricia said.

“Oh!” The guy said, laughing. “Well maybe.”

“We ought to get back,” Tricia said, then she held her hand out. “I’m Tricia by the way. And this is Mary Beth.”

“Jacob,” The guy said as he shook their hands and they went back to the table.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chapter 50

“Thank God!” Mary Beth exclaimed causing Tricia who was dozing in the passenger seat to look up.


“We’re in Syracuse, we’re almost frigging THERE finally.”

“It had been a long drive. Too bad it was so expensive to fly.” Tricia said.

“Well both Dutch and Matt said we were nuts and as much as I hate to admit it they may be right. Too bad you couldn’t be sure you were going to win. If you were then you could have paid for us to fly.” Mary Beth grinned.

Tricia snorted. “I’ll be happy to cash. I just hope my results in Indiana were not a fluke.”

“Now who’s sounding nervous?” Mary Beth asked.

When they’d started out, after she got over being mad at Dutch, Mary Beth started worrying again about looking foolish and going broke. Tricia had done her best to assure her that she would not look foolish and as for going broke Mary Beth had set aside a fixed amount to play with and if that was gone then she was done so going broke wasn’t all that terrible a thing. None of that had made Mary Beth, who just seemed determined to worry about it, feel better.

The drive, which Tricia thought was mercifully coming to an end, was supposed to be around nine hours. That had given them plenty of time to talk about all sorts of things and it had been nice. They’d swapped off driving so Tricia wasn’t really tired, more like bored stiff of being in the car. They’d even swapped naps since they didn’t plan to go to bed early.

“Want me to finish up the drive?” Tricia offered.

“Nah, probably better for you to read me the directions and watch for our turn off. It shouldn’t be far so there probably isn’t anywhere to pull off and  switch anyway.”

That was the way they did it and after they rolled into the drop off and valet parking area of the hotel they gave each other a high five.

“Dutch can eat shit and die! We didn’t get lost one time. Didn’t even get a ticket. He’d never be able to drive six hundred and some odd miles without managing to get a ticket with his lead foot.” Mary Beth said. “Of course he might have gotten us here faster.”

“If we lived,” Tricia said. She’d been in the car with Dutch driving and he’d scared her just about to death. She knew that Matt tried very hard to do the driving the times they’d go with the guys on fishing and hunting trips because although he’d never admit it Dutch’s driving scared him too.

“This is a nice place!” Mary Beth said craning her neck to look around as the bellboy took their bags out of the trunk.

“Try not to look TOO much like a total tourist,” Tricia said with a grin.

“Oh bite me!” Mary Beth laughed. “I’m not like some people who go all around playing poker and having parties.”

“I’ve been on ONE other poker tournament,” Tricia said with a smile holding up one finger.

“One more than me,” Mary Beth said grabbing Tricia’s arm and tugging her toward the front desk. She looked back at he bellman “he’s going to bring that to our room when we get it right?”

“No Mary Beth. He’s on his way to sell our used clothes at the flea market.”

Mary Beth laughed and tugged Tricia harder toward the registration line.

Tricia found herself very amused by Mary Beth’s almost childlike attitude about being here. She and Matt, Tricia found out, got away a lot more, both with and without Matty, than Mary Beth and Dutch ever did. Tricia had also discovered that Mary Beth had never been away anywhere without Dutch. He went on fishing trips and hunting trips with the guys but Mary Beth had always stayed home with the kids. Until the tournament in Indiana though, Tricia had never been anywhere without Matt. Mary Beth had told her that she didn’t think she’ have been able to go all by herself the way Tricia had.

Mary Beth continued in her childlike enjoyment of their surroundings and Tricia found herself smiling a lot as she watched and listened. The hotel lobby was sumptuous, their room was awesome, the casino was ‘spectacular’. Tricia was starting to think that Mary Beth had swallowed a thesaurus.

The Mary Beth she knew better came out in the restaurant (which was ‘opulent’) when Mary Beth grinned at Tricia after they ordered and said, “Doesn’t that waiter have a fan-damn-tastic ass?”

Tricia had nearly choked on her drink but she had to admit that she had noticed that the waiter was cute. Then with a glint of amusement she had pointed out that the waiter was also probably not a lot older than Mary Beth’s oldest child.

“Now that was just mean!” Mary Beth had said, grinning.

“Yeah I know but if you can’t be mean to your friends what’s the point?” Tricia had said. “Besides he was looking at me not you anyway.”

Mary Beth gave her the finger and then laughed. “Well it’s good to know you still at least look.”

“Hell yes I do,” Tricia assured her then she sobered and said seriously. “It’s really great getting to do this together. We’ve never done anything like this and we should have way before now. You’re probably my best friend in the whole world. You’re about the only one who didn’t come down on me because of what happened with Jaime.”

Mary Beth’s reaction puzzled Tricia a bit. She looked uncomfortable and to Tricia that looked out of place.

“Hell Tricia Matt deserved it. I told you that at the time. He wasn’t being much of a husband, spending all his time either working or off fishing and hunting with his buddies. Even Dutch was doing a better job back then.”

Tricia had not meant to get into that topic and definitely didn’t want to get her started on another rant about Dutch who she admitted was acting like a supreme asshole. But they’d talked that pretty much to death in the car and she didn’t want Mary Beth to lose her good mood and start dwelling on that again.

“When we’re finished here we can go scope out the card room. The first event doesn’t start until day after tomorrow but they are running satellites now and tomorrow so there should be plenty of players here already.” Tricia said.

Mary Beth was agreeable, even eager. They talked about poker, kids, the waiter and any number of other things as they ate. Tricia was again filled with a sense of happiness and wonder at how much she was enjoying having Mary Beth here with her and just getting to spend the time with her. She hoped, that once she began to have to focus on poker and was totally absorbed for hours at a time, that Mary Beth would not feel left out. She could watch of course but Tricia knew that was not easy and Mary Beth was not that dedicated a poker player. Actually, Tricia thought with a smile, Mary Beth was purely a recreational poker player. It was a social thing for her, but then so was everything. Mary Beth was a social animal.

Tricia found herself wondering how it was going to feel without Jaime or Rick or Kevin or Caroline or anybody else she knew there. Then she had to laugh at herself. When she started out, not all that long ago, she hadn’t known a soul other than Jaime in the poker world and she’d been scared to death at the prospect of maybe seeing him again. Now here she was wishing that somebody from her previous tournament experience would be there. But, she told herself, I have Mary Beth. Anybody that has Mary Beth around is never alone.

When they were done eating and Mary Beth was done flirting with the waiter they left the restaurant and went in search of the poker room.

“So what are you looking for?” Mary Beth asked. “I know you like to play limit but Kevin had you practicing seven card stud and you said he also told you to try some no-limit games. What are you going to do?”

“I thought I’d start with a nice small limit game,” Tricia said. “We had a long drive and that doesn’t require a whole lot of concentration. We can play that and just have fun.”

“We?” Mary Beth asked, surprised.

“Why not? You’ve got to play sometime.”

“I want to just watch you tonight. Sort of get the feel of things.”

“You’re going to sneak back and get a feel of that waiter’s ass,” Tricia said with a smile.

“I wish,” Mary Beth said with a bark of laughter. “You said I could watch you.”

“And you can but you know how to play low-limit hold’em just fine. Why not play yourself? Won’t you be bored?”

Mary Beth shook her head. “Nope. I like to watch you play. Does it bother you when I talk to you while you’re playing?”

They’d spent a fair amount of time when they first went to some of the Canadian casinos closer to their home with Mary Beth sitting behind Tricia watching. At first Tricia had actually found Mary Beth’s chatter distracting but she had learned to play through it. She’d figured out that when she needed to focus she just did so and Mary Beth didn’t take offense at the silence. The amazing thing to Tricia was that Mary Beth, even seeing Tricia’s cards had never given away the strength of her hand. There had been people who tried to read Tricia’s hand through whatever Mary Beth had been talking about but they’d either met with dismal failure or if not then it had been luck. Tricia had told Mary Beth that she had a good poker face, and she did. Her emotions were always flashing across it but you couldn’t read them and she could control them when it suited her to do so.

Tricia had actually learned to talk a bit more at the table thanks to the time spent with Mary Beth sitting behind her chatting to Tricia and anybody else in range. Tricia had naturally been drawn into many a conversation and, through observing Mary Beth had learned a little about how she so easily started conversations. It came down to the fact though that Mary Beth, unlike Tricia, could and would talk to almost anybody about almost anything. She was also a consummate flirt when she wasn’t with Dutch who didn’t like it when she did it.

They found the poker room and Tricia was pleasantly surprised to see a good variety of games already in progress, not bad for a Monday in the early evening two days before the first event kicked off.

The brush at the podium told them there were two seats in a 4/8 game, the lowest limit they were spreading. Tricia briefly and unsuccessfully tried to talk a suddenly shy and insecure Mary Beth into playing instead of just watching. Then she relented seeing that Mary Beth looked genuinely uncomfortable.

She took her seat and looked around not seeing anybody she knew. That wasn’t surprising she was six hundred miles from home in a casino she’d never been to, a STATE she’d never been to there for what was essentially a minor league tournament series she supposed. Still it was new enough to her, even after her previous experience for her to feel a little nervous. Trying to look confident for Mary Beth kept her from saying anything about her nervousness.

Tricia began playing tightly and conservatively as she watched the other playersand tried to get a feel for how they were playing. She whispered comments to Mary Beth at times and listened to Mary Beth whisper a comment to her about a player a time or two. Really Tricia found herself wishing they’d had a list so she’d have had time to walk around and check out the games before just jumping into a game that might or might not be a good one. She could have, and probably should have, not gone right to sign up she thought.

Kevin and Jaime both, in their discussions with her about the game, had told her how they liked to play tightly and try very hard to make the first hand they really played count. Win the first hand you play, they’d said and it could set the tone for the evening.