To say Ezra was having a bad night at the table would
have been to say that the sky was blue. He wasn't losing consistently, but
he wasn't winning any of the big pots, either. In fact, he hadn't taken in
a pot over twenty dollars all evening while JD, of all people, had literally
been raking in the cash. The casino's pit boss had examined every angle he
could possibly think of. As far as he could tell, JD was not cheating nor
were any of the others helping him. Not that he would ever really expect
the younger man to cheat it wasn't in JD's nature. But hell, he thought,
something must be going on.
"Damnit, JD," growled Buck as the youth pulled in another pot. "You got some
little computer gadget helping you count cards or something?"
"Counting cards doesn't really work in 5 card stud, Buck," answered JD with
"Perhaps it is just JD's night," said Josiah, settling back. "Karmic rewards
for all his hard work this week."
"In that case," said Vin quietly, "I should win a weekend with Shania Twain
and Ezra should win every lottery in the country." The week had been hard.
A semi-national poker championship had taken up the majority of the Montecito's
time, energy and staff. Ezra had barely slept as he was needed for on-floor
security for the tournament and JD and Vin had taken turns focusing specifically
on monitors for the poker tables. A grand prize of 1.2 million dollars called
for a lot of security.
"I concur, Mr. Tanner," said Ezra, tossing in his ante as Nathan shuffled
and dealt out the cards. "Perhaps young Mr. Dunne could use his karmic
sensitivity and valuable computer skills to arrange -"
"Don't even think about it," Chris cut in. Ezra shrugged. They continued
to play and while everyone else seemed to at least break even, Ezra's luck
just went further downhill. Finally, around midnight, he realized he was
down to the last few hundred dollars that he had allotted himself to gamble
with. Soon, JD, Ezra and Nathan were the only ones still involved in the
"Raise you twenty," said JD, throwing out the bills. Nathan sighed.
"You just keep right on raising, JD," Nathan said as he pushed his cards
into one pile in his hand. "But I ain't biting." He threw his cards down
and pushed back. "I fold."
"Too much for you, Ezra?" JD asked, grinning. It was seldom, if ever, that
he had this kind of luck with the cards and he was obviously enjoying it.
"Hardly, Mr. Dunne," replied the southerner, winking. "I will see your raise
and raise it another hundred of my own." The other five men whistled in
appreciation. Chris met Vin's eye. The ex-Texas Ranger made the slightest
motion of his head and Chris nodded.
"Wow, Ez... You must have a heck of a hand." The youngster counted out the
money. "But, so do I. I'll see your hundred and raise you... What've you
got left?" Standish straightened.
"JD, JD... you watched Kenny Rogers' "Gambler" far too many times. That is
such a rudimentary bluff it is hardly worth mentioning."
"You didn't answer him," said Buck, taking a swig of his beer.
"Careful, son," said Josiah to Ezra. "Don't get ahead of yourself." Ezra
raised an eyebrow and counted out his remaining cash.
"Forty-two dollars," he said, laying it down on the considerable pile at
the center of the table. JD counted off the same amount and added it to the
pot, still leaving a great deal of money in front of him. Chris couldn't
help himself - he leaned forward, as did the other men, to watch the men
reveal their cards.
"Go on, JD, show them winning cards," said Buck with a smile.
"Yes, Mr. Dunne. Please, feel free to reveal your hand," added Ezra. The
younger man smiled and began to lay his cards down, one by one. Nathan let
out a slow whistle as JD laid down the last card that completed his hand:
the 10, Jack and Queen of hearts with the King and Ace of spades. Ezra stared
at the cards and then slumped back into his chair, his head thumping on the
"Sorry, Ezra," said JD, the sentiment highly countered by the light tone
of his voice. "But sometimes you just have to know when to when to hold 'em
and know when to fold 'em." JD reached out to rake in the pot as Chris passed
a ten-spot to Vin in agreement to the silent bet they'd made earlier. Just
then, Ezra's hand sprang out and settled on JD's.
"Exactly," he said. With is free hand, Ezra turned over his own cards - 10
through Ace, all diamonds. Buck cursed and Josiah just laughed while Nathan
shook his head. Chris smiled and beckoned the ten-spot back into his pocket
from Vin. Ezra smiled, the stress of the week leaving him as he raked in
the pot and stood.
"Where you going?" JD asked. "We could play another hand."
"No, Mr. Dunne. You should always know when to walk away and know when to
run." Ezra tipped an imaginary hat to them and walked into Chris' kitchen
for another beer. Chris just smiled as he head Ezra continuing to sing while
he stuffed his money into a pocket. "You never count your money when you're
sitting at the table, they'll be time enough for counting when the dealing's
The Las Vegas Chronicles