Lip and Annie Ch. 01byjake60©
There are a few poker terms used throughout the story, and if you have no understanding of them, or experience with them, you can look on the net for an explanation of each one. There aren't that many; poker is not the primary purpose of the story. Regardless, you may want to check out the reference to Jennifer Tilly though.....
Note -- there is reference to violent acts, but they don't occur in the period covered by the story. If you have a very low tolerance level for brief descriptions of sexual sadism you may want to skip this story, or the few paragraphs involved. It forms an integral part of the story, and I don't see how it could be left out.
It was obvious to all of the players that the dealer was getting a bit tired. He was starting to have difficulty shuffling the cards, and they could notice that he was checking his watch after every hand was completed. Robert Porter had also been checking his watch, and he knew that they would be playing at least another three hands of Texas Holdem before there would be a short break while the dealer was replaced, and a fresh deck was brought into use. He was looking forward to the break as well, as it would give him a chance to take a necessary trip to the bathroom.
It was a quiet Sunday afternoon, and most of the people at their table had been there for at least a couple of hours. Robert himself had been there for over four hours, and knew that he would probably play for at least another hour before taking a supper break. It made no sense for him to leave too soon, now that he had gotten to the point where he was able to figure out most of the players styles and their 'tells' that were permitting him to have a bit of an advantage at the table.
They were playing $5 and $10 Limit Texas Holdem, which meant that the pot could get fairly sizable when up to three raises were made. The dealer would remove up to five dollars from each pot as the casino's share, or rake, which usually didn't make too much of a difference in the size of the pot, but still would cost the players a lot of money in an evening.
There was one female at the table, a pretty, dark haired woman he judged to be of about his own age of 30. She seemed to be pretty good at playing the game, but he had picked up one very valuable tell from her; he just hadn't had the opportunity to make use of it yet. He fully expected that the information he had filed away on her habit could either save or make him some money. Robert also noticed that she wasn't taking advantage of her good looks or figure, a surprising mistake in his mind.
From the size of the stack of chips in front of him he knew that he was likely ahead by at least $250 for his afternoon's work so far. That was about the result that he had hoped for, based on how past afternoons spent at the tables had gone for him. With still an hour to go before he planned to take a lengthier break, he was very hopeful of adding to his winnings.
The woman was sitting practically across from him and was immediately to the dealer's left. There were two other players between her seat and his, and they were both players that seemed to be losing more than they were winning. The remaining five players to his left were a mixed group. The two closest to him were both decent players, and it seemed that both of them were ahead a few chips. The next player was one of the bigger losers for the afternoon, one of those players that were necessary if the others were to make any money from the game.
The last two players, the ones closest to the dealer's right hand, seemed to be average players that were probably close to breaking even. Robert was hopeful that once he gained more information on their play he might be able to make a few dollars at their expense. A lot of people felt that playing poker was a fun experience, but Robert had learned that if you looked at it that way it was going to cost you some cash. He knew that he had to watch his opponents closely, so that he would have every advantage available when he made his bets.
Just as he had expected, the break occurred three hands later, and he was able to make a quick pit stop at the men's room. He hadn't been the only one to do that, but they all made it back in plenty of time for the start of the next hand. Robert was just about to sit down at the table when an old friend of his walked by and noticed him standing there.
"Lip! How the hell are you doing? I haven't seen you in at least a couple of years." The speaker was a man of his own age, and close to Robert's height of 6 feet. While Robert had sandy blond hair, his rapidly approaching friend had dark brown hair and was also notable for his rugged good looks. Good looks were not something that Robert had ever associated with himself, though, as his face, while otherwise normal, bore a very obvious scar from reconstructive surgery for a cleft lip and palate.
"Fred, it's good to see you! You're right, it's been too long." The two men shook hands before continuing their conversation. The surprise Robert felt at seeing his old friend made him speak more quickly than usual, and as a result his Hypernasality became very noticeable, as his words became overly nasal. It was as though he was "talking through his nose," and several of his fellow poker players quickly glanced up as he spoke.
"So, Lip, you're a poker player now. I hope you're not losing your shirt!" Fred was grinning as he said it, as he knew full well that Robert wasn't a person known for foolishly squandering his money.
"I play a little now and then, Fred. So far I've managed to keep my pickup and my condo. What are you up to these days?" As he regained control of his breathing and slowed down his speech his Hypernasality almost disappeared. The many months of training spent with a Speech Pathologist served him well, and in normal situations his speech sounded almost indistinguishable from anyone else's.
"Nothing new or different, really. I still work in the office at the paper mill. I guess I've been spending too much time with Sherry, my girlfriend. You know how it is, Lip; they don't like their guy spending time with his buddies." He laughed heartily at his little joke.
Robert joined him in his laughter before asking, "Are you staying here tonight, Fred? Maybe we could get together later for supper or a couple of drinks."
The smile disappeared from Fred's face as he said, "No, Lip, I'm not. Sherry is in the casino, playing the slot machines for a few minutes, and then we're headed back to Thunder Bay. She has to go to work in the morning. We only stopped in here for a few minutes on our way back from Minneapolis; we were there for a concert."
Robert could see that the dealer was just about ready to begin his first deal, so he said, "That's too bad, Fred. How about I give you a phone call later this week, and maybe we could get together for supper back home." He laughed before continuing, "I'll even spring for supper for your girlfriend if she wants to come along. It would give me a chance to meet her, and to tell her what you are really like."
"That sounds like a plan, Lip. Except for the last part; how about you just forget the war stories. She has enough things to give me a rough time about as it is." The two men shared a laugh before each gently slapped the other on the shoulder and Robert turned back to the table to retake his seat.
On the first deal the big blind was posted by the man two positions to Robert's right. When the player who was under the gun failed to make a bet, Robert raised the bet to $20 while holding an Ace and an 8. All of the rest of the players mucked their cards, leaving him with a gain of almost $15. He made the same play three more times during the next 12 hands, and in every case he collected the blinds minus the rake. It almost seemed as though the other players didn't like to take him on.
On the thirteenth hand he was in the small blind position, and received the Ace of Diamonds and King of Spades, the best cards that he had been dealt in a while. The third player on his left, the afternoon's big loser, called the big blind, and the woman across from him raised the bet to $20. The player to his immediate right called her raise, as did Robert with his Ace King. The player to his left folded the big blind, and the first caller threw in the extra $10 needed to call; there were going to be four of them in the hand.
Robert was paying close attention to the players who had decided to play this hand, and noticed immediately that the woman across from him was indicating that she had a good hand. The tell that he had noticed earlier was warning him that she had very good cards, and he knew that the other two players in the hand were prone to stay in hands waiting to see the flop with any kind of decent cards. He knew he would also have to wait for the flop to see whether he should stay in the hand himself.
The flop came up with a pair of Kings and an Ace, giving Robert a full house, Kings full of Aces. It was a great hand, and he quickly raised the initial $10 bet from the man on his right. The next player called, and the woman across from him calmly raised the bet another $10. The man to his right made the third raise, and the pot had grown by over $100 on that round of betting. He had been watching the woman closely, and realized that in spite of the fact that he had a rare great hand, it was a loser. After a momentary hesitation he folded the two cards and watched the dealer pull them into the pile of dead cards.
Robert carefully watched the remaining rounds of betting on the turn card and the river, confident as he watched the woman's play that he had made the right decision. The player to his right obviously felt he had the winning hand, as he kept raising her raises. He wasn't sure what the third man in the pot had, but he kept calling every bet. Robert had judged him in the earlier play as a rather undisciplined player, and truly, what cards he had were anyone's guess.
By the time the hand ended, the pot was almost $500, the best one of the afternoon. When the woman showed her pair of Aces, her Aces full easily beat the ace high flush held by the player to Robert's right, and the three Kings held by the remaining player. While the chips were being moved over in front of the woman, Robert said, "I'm sure glad I folded Big Slick."
The woman immediately reacted to his comment, saying, "I'm calling bullshit on that! There's no way you folded an Ace King after that flop." A couple of the other players made comments in agreement with her.
The dealer was just reaching for the pile of dead cards when Robert asked, "If no one objects, could you turn over some of those cards? You'll find the Ace of Diamonds and the King of Spades in there, and they should be together."
All of the other players nodded or voiced their agreement, so the dealer started turning over the cards. The fifth and sixth cards were the ones that Robert had folded, and seeing them displayed just as he had predicted created a buzz of conversation amongst the other players. The woman across from him was particularly amazed, and quickly said, "How could you know that I had you beat? It must have been just a good guess."
"It wasn't a guess. I knew you had me beat." He grinned at her before continuing, "You didn't say it in words, but you told me pretty clearly what you had." He spoke carefully, keeping the Hypernasality in check.
The buzz at the table subsided, and the woman was clearly a bit frustrated as she sat there, occasionally looking across at Robert, as though she would be able to figure out how he had managed to read her hand if she simply kept an eye on him. In response Robert simply smiled at her whenever he noticed that she was looking at him again.
For the next half-hour play continued normally, with Robert picking up the blinds a couple of times, as well as winning almost $200 on a set of Jacks. They were approaching the time for the next break when the player to Robert's right said to him, "I thought I heard your friend call you Lip. Was that right? Is that because of your... scar? I hope you don't mind me asking."
Since neither of them was in the hand that was being played at that moment Robert replied, "I don't mind you asking. It's a nickname I've had since I was in grade school. One of the kids thought he'd give me a rough time about my scar with that nickname, but I didn't mind too much; I've been called worse. It has stuck with me ever since."
The man seemed satisfied with Robert's answer, and just nodded. As Robert turned back to the table, he noticed that the woman across from him had been listening to their conversation. Play continued for another 15 minutes or so until the next break started. Robert managed to break almost even over that period of time, collecting the blinds once in return for his obligation to post the blinds when they worked their way around to him. When the break finally began, he let everybody know that he was leaving and picked up his chips.
Robert was standing at the cashier's enclosure counting the nearly $500 he had received in trade for his chips. He had started with $150 in chips, so it wasn't a bad afternoon's work. He was about to turn away and head up to his room for a few minutes when a woman spoke up behind him.
"I'd really like to know how you knew I had a pair of Aces."
Robert turned in surprise, and saw the woman who had been sitting across from him was standing in the line behind him. He stepped out of her way so that she could approach the cashier and then replied, "I knew you had the nuts, even before the flop. That could only be a pair of aces, and when you showed me the same tell after the flop, I knew for sure you had me beat." He grinned at her when she turned momentarily from the conversation she was having with the cashier and gave him a look of exasperation.
In a moment she turned away from the cashier, her chips now converted into cash, and said, "I'd really like to know how you did that. How about if I buy you supper, and you can tell me what this supposed 'tell' is. I still think your probably bullshitting me." She was standing a few feet away from him as she spoke, and it was obvious that she was a little nervous.
Robert laughed at her suggestion before replying, "I bet you wouldn't want to give up your secret if the roles were reversed. What if we end up at the same table again? I'd have lost my edge." He wasn't used to speaking to strange women, especially attractive ones, and his Hypernasality made a return with his nervousness.
She was looking a little upset as she answered, "There isn't much chance of that. I only come down here every three or four weeks from Duluth. I heard you tell your friend you would see him in Thunder Bay, so really, how much chance is there that we would ever end up sitting at the same table again?" She was holding her purse tightly to her body, and it occurred to Robert that she appeared to be ready to run if he had stepped in her direction.
After noticing her reaction, Robert took a closer look at her. Her dark hair was longer than he had realized, as she had it tied up in the back. She was wearing a pair of black, loose fitting slacks and a knit sweater that fit very loosely and covered her from her wrists to her neck. She didn't seem to be wearing any makeup, and the total combination did little to emphasize her obvious good looks, or what seemed to be a decent figure. In an effort to present a more calming impression, he decided to try to soften his voice and made sure that he smiled before he spoke.
"You're probably right. I guess if I can't use what I've learned to make a buck from you, having you buy my supper would be a fair deal. I was planning to go up to my room to do a bit of work and freshen up before I go for supper. How about you drop by my room and let me know when you're ready to go down to the restaurant? I'm assuming you're staying here in the Casino Hotel."
She seemed to become even more nervous as he gave her his answer, but finally she said, "I... I guess that would be okay. I wouldn't mind going up to my room to change before supper, anyway." She began walking toward the elevators and Robert joined her, making sure that he gave her some space as they walked.
As they strolled along on their way to the bank of elevators, passing row after row of slot machines, Robert said, "I guess you did fairly well this afternoon. That one pot alone should've made your day."
She quickly glanced at him before saying, "I did alright. I'm over $500 ahead for the day. How about you? You seemed to be cashing in quite a few chips."
"I'm ahead about $350 or so. That's enough to make me happy. I come down once or twice a month, usually for a weekend. I like to come down on Friday morning and go back late Sunday afternoon or on Monday morning." They had arrived at the elevators and one of them was waiting there with its doors open. Robert put his hand on the edge of the door to prevent it from trying to close unexpectedly and motioned for the woman to enter the elevator.
She quickly stepped into the empty elevator and took up a position with her back against the wall and beside the push button panel. "Which floor are you on?"
When he answered her question by saying that he was on the third floor, she continued, "I'm on the third floor too." They both stood there quietly while the elevator quickly raised them to the third floor. When the doors opened the woman swiftly stepped through and waited for Robert to join her.
"I heard your conversation with the man beside you at the table." She glanced at him quickly before continuing, "I don't think it's right that you have a nickname like that. That sounds like some sort of a cruel kid's name. What's your real name? My name is Annie, Annie Sargent."
Robert laughed and said, "It bothered me a lot at first, but I was pretty young then. It followed me through high school, but by then I was used to it and it didn't seem to matter any more. Generally I go by Robert. My name is Robert Porter. I'm pleased to meet you, Annie."
He extended his hand to her, and she seemed flustered at first before finally extending her hand and giving his a very brief shake. "Likewise, Robert."
They had been walking down the main hallway towards the junction of the East and West wings. Robert pointed to the right and said, "I'm down here, room 314. I have to do some work online with my laptop, probably no more than half an hour for that. I'd like to shower and change first, so how about you come by my room in about an hour."
Annie pointed to the left and said, "I'm down here. I'll come down to your room in about an hour then, and we can go for supper." They waved goodbye to each other and headed to their respective rooms.
As he walked down the hallway Robert thought to himself that it was strange that Annie had kept her hand in her purse the entire time that they had spent in the elevator and in the hallway. He finally decided that she most likely had her hand on her room key card, and didn't want to drop it.
Almost exactly 1 hour later, while Robert was busy on his laptop editing a file for one of his clients, there was a knock at his door. He quickly got up to go to the door and open it, and he found Annie standing there as expected. "Come on in for a few moments, Annie. I have a little bit of work to finish before I can go down for supper."
Annie was clearly flustered, and remained in the hallway as she said, "I can just wait here. I don't want to bother you."
Robert continued to hold the door open and said, "Don't be silly. I only have a small amount of work to do. There's no sense for you to be standing out there. I can't offer you a drink while you wait, but I can offer you a chair to sit down on at least."