I neared my limit after a thirty-plus hour run at the $2-$4 no-limit table. My stack grew steadily through the night and into early morning. I won one big pot every hour or so and avoided any huge losses. But once noon came around, my luck started to change.
I was sitting on close to four grand in chips and my eyes were burning when a young kid took the seat to my right. He greeted the table with a “How yous doin?” but his lips barely moved. Plus, his face looked wooden and fake, like a ventriloquist’s dummy. But he wasn’t dumb. He came out raising and raking in pots. He’d barely been at the table for a full round and his chip stack had nearly doubled from the $400 he bought in for.
Dummy raised to twenty bucks under the gun and I looked down at pocket Aces. I re-raised to one hundred even and everyone folded back to Dummy. “I re-re-raise,” he said, though his lips still didn’t move. “Make it four hundred.”
“All in,” I said without any fear.
“Oops,” Dummy said. “I thought that you thought I was making a move.” He hesitated for a moment, counted the rest of his chips before pushing them in. “I only got another three hundred and change, it’s not like I can fold.”
I turned over my Aces and Dummy reluctantly turned over 6-7 of spades. The rest of the table did their best to keep their lips from moving as they whispered about what a dummy he was.
The flop came down 5, 8, 9, all spades. Dummy flopped a straight flush. Neither the turn nor the river could help me and I could only shake my head as he raked in the pot.
A few rounds later, Dummy raised to twenty again and I looked down at 6-7 of clubs. I called and everyone else folded. The flop came down 5, 8, 9, rainbow. This time I flopped the nuts. Dummy bet out fifty and I raised to 200. “All in,” he said. I called instantly.
Dummy confidently turned over pocket Aces and I showed him my straight. He didn’t seem to care that I had the best hand. The turn came down another 5, giving him three outs, either of the two Aces or the last 5 left in the deck. I shouldn’t have been surprised when he spiked one of those Aces on the river for the winning full house. Again, I could only shake my head. Twice I’d put my money in with by far the best hand and lost both pots. It’s poker, it happens, things should even out in the end.
I continued shaking my head and counted my chips. I was down to around $1,400 and decided to walk away with an even grand in profit. But the next hand was already dealt and I looked down at pocket Kings. Dummy came in for a raise to twenty as usual and I re-raised to one hundred with a mild sense of déjà vu. This time Dummy only called.
The flop came down King, Queen, 5. “All in,” Dummy said.
“What?” I wasn’t sure if I heard him wrong through his motionless lips. “You’re all-in?” Dummy nodded. I called and turned over my top set. This time Dummy shook his head as he turned over pocket 10s. The turn gave him another 10, but he was still way behind by about 40-1. The table began to murmur before the river brought the last 10 in the deck giving Dummy a four-of-a-kind.
* Excerpt from the novel Smooth Calling by Matt Kapelas