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.

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