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High Hunt

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Язык: Английский
Год издания: 2018 год
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“I guess you want your seat back, huh?”

“No, go ahead and play, man.”

“Naw, I’d better knock off and get some sleep. Besides, I ain’t held a decent hand for the last two hours.”

He got up and I sat back down and started winning again.

The second day the paper money started to show. The pots got bigger, and I kept winning. I wondered how much longer my streak could go on. All the laws of probability were stacked against me by now. Nobody could keep winning forever. When I quit that night, I was better than two hundred ahead. I stood up and stretched. The cargo hold was full of guys, all sitting and watching, very quietly. Word gets around fast on a troopship.

On the morning of the third day, Benson finally went broke. He’d been giving up his place at the table for maybe two-hour stretches, and he’d grab quick catnaps back in one of the corners. He looked like the wrath of God, his blond, blankly young face stubbled and grimy-looking. The cards had gone sour for him late the night before—not completely sour, just sour enough so that he was pretty consistently holding the second-best hand at the table. That can get awfully damned expensive.

It was on the sixth card of a game that he tossed in his last three one-dollar bills. He had three cards to an ace-high straight showing. A fat guy at the end of the table was dealing, and he flipped out the down-cards to Benson, the Spec-4, and himself. The rest of us had folded. I could tell from Benson’s face that he’d filled the straight. He might as well have had a billboard on the front of his head.

The Spec-4 folded.

“You’re high,” the fat dealer said, pointing at Benson’s ace.

“I ain’t got no money to bet,” Benson answered.

“Tough titty.”

“Come on, man. I got it, but I can’t bet it.”

“Bet, check, or fold, fella,” the dealer said with a fat smirk.

Benson looked around desperately. There was a sort of house rule against borrowing at the table. “Wait a minute,” he said. “How about this watch?” He held out his arm.

“I got a watch,” the dealer said, but he looked interested.

“Come on, man. I got that watch when I graduated from high school. My folks give a hundred and a half for it. It’ll sure as hell cover any bet in this chickenshit little poker game.”

The fat guy held out his hand. Benson gave him the watch.

“Give you five bucks.”

“Bullshit! That watch is worth a hundred and a half, I told you.”

“Not to me, it ain’t. Five bucks.”

“Fuck you, Buster. You ain’t gittin’ my watch for no lousy five bucks.”

“I guess you better throw in your hand then, huh?”

“Christ, man, gimme a break.”

“Come on, fella,” the fat guy said, “you’re holdin’ up the game. Five bucks. Take it or leave it.”

I could see the agony of indecision in Benson’s face. Five dollars was the current bet limit. “All right,” he said finally.

He bet two. The dealer raised him three. Benson called and rolled over his hole cards. He had his straight. His face was jubilant. He looked more like a kid than ever.

The fat guy had a flush.

Benson watched numbly, rubbing his bare left wrist, as the chortling fat man raked in the money. Finally he got up and went quickly out of the cargo hold.

“Hey, man,” the fat dealer called after him, “I’ll give you a buck apiece for your boots.” He howled with laughter.

Another player took Benson’s place.

“That was kinda hard,” a master sergeant named Riker drawled mildly from the other end of the table.

“That’s how we play the game where I come from, Sarge,” the fat man said.

It took me two days to get him, but I finally nailed him right to the wall. The pots were occasionally getting up to forty or fifty dollars by then, and the fat man was on a losing streak.

He had two low pair showing, and he was betting hard, hoping to get even. It was pretty obvious that he had a full house, seven and threes. I had two queens, a nine and the joker showing. My hand looked like a pat straight, but I had two aces in the hole. My aces and queens would stomp hell out of his sevens and threes.

Except that on the last round I picked up another ace.

He bet ten dollars. I raised him twenty-five.

“I ain’t got that much,” he said.

“Tough titty.”

“I got you beat.”

“You better call the bet then.”

“You can’t just buy the fuckin’ pot!”

“Call or fold, friend.” I was enjoying it.

“Come on, man. You can’t just buy the fuckin’ pot!”

“You already said that. How much you got?”

“I got twelve bucks.” He thought I was going to reduce my bet so he could call me. His face relaxed a little.

“You got a watch?” I asked him quietly.

He caught on then. “You bastard!” He glared at me. He sure wanted to keep Benson’s watch. “You ain’t gettin’ this watch that way, fella.”

I shrugged and reached for the pot.

“What the hell you doin’?” he squawked.

“If you’re not gonna call—”

“All right, all right, you bastard!” He peeled off Benson’s watch and threw it in the pot. “There, you’re called.”

“That makes seventeen,” I said. “You’re still eight bucks light.”

“Fuck you, fella! That goddamn watch is worth a hundred and fifty bucks!”

“I saw you buy it, friend. The price was five. That’s what you paid for it, so I guess that’s what it’s worth. You got another watch?”

“You ain’t gettin’ my watch.”

I reached for the pot again.

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” He pulled off his own watch.

“That’s twenty-two,” I said. “You’re still light.”

“Come on, man. My watch is worth more than five bucks.”

“A Timex? Don’t be stupid. I’m giving you a break letting you have five on it.” I reached for the pot again.
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