It’s a seven of diamonds on the turn and I freeze my movements. The chip leader glances my way and quizzes the behavior. Stunting my breath, I match his gaze and my eyes immediately dart away, back toward the two diamonds and two hearts sitting on the table. The left corner of his lips curl slightly into a smile, holding back a grin as he makes his call.
“Check?” he offers, a hint of satisfaction radiating.
I nod with the other two men in the game while the dealer prepares the river: a jack of hearts. My face stifles a smirk as those men fold immediately and I see the leader furrow his brow. He puzzles my now wider eyes and renewed poise, not noticing the shuddering fingers he now rests on his leg.
“R-Raise 400.” he grunts, flinching midway.
“I’m all in.” I respond, motionless.
He compresses about a centimeter in his seat, staring off to the side before announcing his fold through a scowl. The cards he throws into the muck reveal an ace king of diamonds, a great hand with a promising flush draw before the river and likely highest value without it.
“Show yours now,” he demands, “you have anything before hitting that flush on the river?”
I comply and flip mine over, exposing a simple two ten of clubs and spades. Completely worthless. The table is stunned into a pause as the previous chip leader again investigates my expression, only now finding my true, emotionless face.
I’ve been participating in poker events for just about a year now, profiting enough from them to make it a full time job. At first I couldn’t understand deceiving anyone, the detachment proved to be too difficult to balance. Now, I can’t remember what my problem was.
It’s about 11 at night coming home from the venue when I see the lights still on in the foyer, where I see my wife set down in her chair, a worn expression on her face.
“Hey,” she greets me, dodging my eye contact, “go well again tonight?”
“A grand in total,” I answer, walking away into the corridor, “good night.”
She stands up to meet me in the doorway, exasperated. “Wait!” she cries, “I need to talk to you right now, it’s important.”
Studying her demeanor, her eyes seem desperate enough combined with the rushed manner of speaking, she doesn’t seem to be lying. “What is it?” I ask.
“I’m worried for you”, she expresses shakily, “you just aren’t yourself anymore and I don’t understand why. Ever since you started winning those games of yours you’ve been so cold, I don’t think you’ve even said my name once within the last month.”
She appears serious enough about this, I can’t tell what she’s trying to gain. The sweat down her cheek suggests she must be hiding something here, but I’m unsure how to win. “Of course I’m fine,” I say with a smile, “I’ve never been so successful before.” I glance to see her reaction, but her face remains unchanged.
“You know you can’t trick me,” she replies solemnly, “how can you lie to me without even thinking?”
Her eyes appear confused, somewhat impatient whilst her fingers clutch her shirt. Why would she be nervous? “I’ve always been honest.” I tell her.
“Not anymore,” she stutters, starting to walk away, “I’ll be leaving in the morning to give you some time to think about this, I hope you do.”
I pause, left alone in the foyer. She wasn’t bluffing.