John, Paul, Marge, and May were sitting around the green felt table when the newcomer walked in. All four of them turned to size him up. He was a man in his prime, probably around thirty years old and of average height with messy brown hair. He walked confidently, his black dress shoes thumping on the carpet as he asked, “Do you mind if I join your game? I heard about the club from my cousin, and it sounded fun.”
Among the regulars, a few whispers were exchanged before John reluctantly stood and extended his hand to the stranger. They shook and John answered his question. “It’s fine. We just got our first hand. The game is five-card draw. I’m John.”
“Nice to meet you, John,” the man said. “May I have some chips?” he requested. Marge counted out the chips without looking at him, then slid them across the table so that they rested in front of an empty chair. The newbie sat in the empty chair and May dealt him a hand of five. All the players have their cards a cursory glance. The new person they regarded with more interest.
“I’m on the dealer’s right, so I’ll go first,” Paul said.
The stranger looked up from his cards, surprised. “Doesn’t the player on the dealer’s left usually go first?” he asked.
“Of course not,” Paul replied. He put a few chips in the middle. “Ten,” he announced. May looked at her hand for a few seconds before matching her bet. Marge folded, as did John. The mystery man stayed in as well.
“Choose your two cards to exchange now,” May commanded. The newbie looked confused, but resigned himself to the strange rules and chose his two lowest cards to get rid of. May and Paul also picked their cards, and lay them face down on the table. May dealt out the additional cards, and the new person kept his face neutral, despite having two pairs of high cards in his hand.
“Five,” Paul said, and May raised him five more. The newcomer decided to stay in. He didn’t raise the bet.
“Last round,” May proclaimed, “Choose your one last card.” The new man traded in his lowest card and received the king that gave him three of a kind. It was the last round, so he thought he could increase his winnings by betting more. Paul checked with a slight grimace. May smiled broadly and raised five. The stranger raised her ten. Paul folded, and May matched the man’s bet.
“Time for the big reveal,” Paul said with apprehension. May displayed a one of hearts, two of spades, three of diamonds, a five of clubs, and a seven of clubs. The newbie smiled and showed off his three kings and pair of aces. “Tough luck,” Paul said sympathetically. The newcomer threw down his cards angrily.
He glared at everyone as he yelled, “These rules make no sense! Why do you people play like this?”
John replied with a practiced air, “This play style makes us comfortable.”
“Well it makes me feel uncomfortable!” the enraged man exclaimed.
May sighed, “It’s not all about you. Sometimes the greater good is more important.”
“What if I brought all six of my friends who play poker normally? Then the greatest good would be to please the greatest number of people!”
“Normal is a subjective term. You learned those rules a while ago, but we’ve played this way for a decade. Try to adjust and you’ll find this much more fun,” Marge replied.
“I prefer the game that makes sense,” the stranger said, standing up to leave.
“If you really can’t be convinced, find a casino online that uses your rules,” Paul recommended.
The man clenched his teeth, “Playing with those cheaters is better than playing with you!” With that he stomped away.
Bry Katz-James, Student Contributor