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Chasing Straights

Updated on March 31, 2013
PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

Justin W. Price, AKA PDXKaraokeGuy, is a freelance writer, blogger, and award-nominated author based out of Juneau, Alaska.



Here's an essay I wrote for my creative non fiction class. It contains some naughty language and some violence and so, you know it's going to be good. I also urge you to proceed with caution. If you don't like bad words, exercise your right not to read this. That's a much nicer reaction then flagging it.

Also, since this is in the nonfiction section, that would indicate the story is true. I feel like I shouldn't have to explain this...

This story has undergone some minor revisions. I may post those here, or I may make you buy my forthcoming nonfiction collection. I haven't decided yet :-)

This is dedicated to ThoughtSandwiches

PS: I'm currently working on a fictionalized version of this story tentatively titled "Running straight"/ Stay tuned...

Don't play poker like the characters in this story! Learn from These Guys!

The scene of the crime. Imagine there's no sun. It's easy if you try.
The scene of the crime. Imagine there's no sun. It's easy if you try. | Source
Like Big Suge Knight, I also fight in casinos.
Like Big Suge Knight, I also fight in casinos. | Source
me that night...
me that night... | Source

Learn about poker by watching Matt Damon, Ed Norton and John Torturro

Chasing Straights

“Why the fuck you play your cards like that?” he said, looking directly at her. He slammed his cards down, passed his chips across the felt topped table gruffly and sat down next to his skinny companion. “Bitch”

My ex-wife and I had been working the table for several hours and we were down to just the two of us and one the one gentleman, and I use that term lightly, whom we had never seen before and who had just peppered the room with obscenities directed at us. We were regulars at this casino and as regulars, we made friends with other regulars and had unspoken rules about taking money from each other. Certainly we’d do it—and quite often did—but, we’d never work the table against each other and if there was a newbie or a tourist at the table, they became the targets of our poker prowess.

We were at the Fiesta rancho, an off strip casino in North Las Vegas. Surrounded by dings, bells, music that was almost too loud, no clocks, cigarette smoke and the dull clinking of casino chips, my ex-wife leaned back in her vinyl seat and began to stack his chips with hers in an exaggerated motion.

Since poker, unlike other casino games, is a game where players play against other players and not against the house (the house makes money off the percentage of money played on each hand in what’s called a “rake”), it was not uncommon for regulars to team up with each other and take money from unsuspecting tourists, using nonverbal cues to increase the size of the pots and tip our hands. It wasn’t exactly fair, but it was certainly within the realm of legality. Plus, the dealers and pit bosses all knew us, and didn’t seem overly concerned with stopping it, so long as we were discreet.

Plus, we were better tippers.

My ex-wife and I were experts at these nonverbal cues. It was when we communicated the best, and the only time when we truly acted as a team towards a unified goal.

It was about two am—still relatively early for us, but quite late for a sleepy off strip casino—and this gentleman, again, lightly used, was a terrible player who obviously had no concept or appreciation of the value of money. He was sitting next to a skinny, sickly looking woman whom I assumed was his girlfriend or wife, although, in Las Vegas, it’s quite possible he’d paid for her companionship that evening. Players like him, while an absolute disgrace to the game of poker, were also dangerous and prone to taking gobs of money off of more polished players. He wouldn’t fold a hand even if you showed him that you had him beat. It was a dick measuring contest that he would refuse lose even at the expense of losing hundreds upon hundreds of dollars. To this point, my ex and I had managed to keep our relationship secret to him and our bankroll relatively even.

But he was still annoying the hell out of us with his horrific play and we wanted to take his money badly.

The cards were dealt and my ex tipped me off that she didn’t have much but was going to bluff her way to victory. This was always a risky move in limit poker and was certainly even more risky against a player as loose as he, but I conceded to her wisdom. Taking her cue and acting ahead of her, I raised the pot. Our opponent re-raised me and she, in turn re-raised him. I folded and he capped her raise.

I don’t remember what he had, or what the board showed but, I do remember, after both players had gone all in, my wife hit a running straight on the river and beat his hand, taking the majority of his chips. It was a terrible play and he had every right to be angry, hence the dialogue uttered to begin this account. And, even though his reference to her being a “bitch” was largely accurate, it still hackled me. I was still married to her and I still had some sense of duty to defend the ladies’ honor. I was the one who gave her the ring she would pawn later that year. I had was the only one who had the right to call her by that name. I generally chose not to execute that right.

As she stacked the last of his chips and he pulled out another one hundred dollar bill that he would turn into chips that we would soon possess, I looked at him. “What did you say?”

He looked at me with a sneer and growled. “I didn’t say nothin’. “ Then, changing his story on the spot, he said “I mean, I was talkin’ to her,” he nodded towards the sickly skinny girl, who nodded and shrugged resignedly.

Sensing the rising conflict, the dealer, Jim, looked at the man sternly. “No, sir. You were looking right at her when you said that!” He said, pointing to my ex.

“The fuck I did!”

“You watch your mouth. That’s my wife!”

“Your wife’s a fuckin’ bitch, then.”

At this, I did my best Bruce Banner impression and leaped to my feet. With apparent super human strength, I’m not the biggest guy, and he was quite scrawny, though lanky and long-limbed, I reached across the table, grabbed him by the collar and dragged him onto the table. I proceeded to punch him in the face repeatedly until security came and broke us up. After Jim relayed what happened to security and the pit boss, the man I assaulted was banned from the casino for life and we were asked to go home for the evening.

We came back the next night and for the rest of our married life did not encounter another incident even remotely similar to this. When my wife and I split, roughly a year after this incident, beating the crap out of that man was one of the few regrets I didn’t have.

She never thanked me for defending her honor.

all rights reserved. copyright Justin W. Price Feb 15, 2012

My Poetry collection

Thanks for Reading.





Did Our Narrator do the right thing in this story?

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Have you played poker in a Las Vegas Casino?

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More Short Stories and Essays by me

Art is More Important Then Propaganda, and Encounter with Larry Norman


Fat Joe

"I will not be a rock star. I will be a Legend" the Freddy Mercury Story


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    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks Cyndi. I appreciate the read. Glad I could help educate you :-)

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 5 years ago from Georgia

      That was a fun read, nasty, but fun. Interesting and enlightening, too. I had no idea that is how poker is "played" at the casinos.

      I'm not into violence, so I can't say it was right to beat the guy up, but I suppose this is where "you gotta do, what you gotta do" comes in. Voted up.

      Take care.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks for stopping by, AK Turner

    • A K Turner profile image

      Joseph A K Turner 5 years ago from West Yorkshire

      wicked story!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks, Fullerman. I saw a lot of crasy ish living in Vegas. I'm writing a lot of it in my semi autobiographical novel.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • Fullerman5000 profile image

      Ryan Fuller 6 years ago from Louisiana, USA

      Pretty intense but very good. I wasn't offended at all but intrigued. I enjoyed this. great work.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Frank, thank you so much!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 6 years ago from Shelton

      PDX what a great hub man

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Sue... you're welcome in advance then :-) It's hard to tell what grade I gor. It's a progressive writing course so we get graded based on our body of work rather then on individual pieces.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 6 years ago

      Hi PDX

      I would have thanked you for defending my honour.

      Hope you got a good mark on this one as you deserve it.

      Voted up and awesome.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Jamie, thanks for stopping by. I play in Portland now at a local club that's legal, but shady. it's run by the Russian mob, I think. It's good times. Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Eddy, so pleased that you enjoyed this!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thomas, when I lived in Vegas, I worked in a bank cash vault from 4:30 am until usually 2 pm. I made $10 an hour. I went home and slept from 3-6, then went to the casino from 6-12 midnight and made about $50 an hour, playing craps and poker. If you're smart about it, you can live.... Thanks again for reading

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      RaggedyJaneDoe... thanks for stopping by. casinos are certainly another world... especially when it gets into the sleepy hours of twilight

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      DrTurthman, I'm a strong believer in being authentic and, since this story was a retelling, the character's language was necessary. I'm glad you were able to see past it and enjoy the story!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Suzzy... if your mind isn't on the money, you shouldn't be playing :-) But thanks for reading and commenting

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 6 years ago from Reno NV

      I use to play house games in Louisiana when I lived there, they were illegal and got an interesting crowd of players. I was horrible though and spent most of my evening losing gobs of money, that is when I quite. I would have rather spent my money on alchohol at the time. I live in Reno now and I don't enjoy gambling at all. Anyways, thank you for the great story. I would like to join you in a call out to my good friend ThoughtSandwiches. Jamie

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      Brilliant !!I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

      Here's to so many more to follow.

      Take care and have a great day.


    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      As regards doing any type of justice to more than exceeded that low standard you set for

      I'm glad for the remind on your photo capsules...I did notice the captions...they added a stirring visual motif to the beat-down. That was cool.

      My question is always,how do you play Black Jack in a public place with real money...and NOT know the mo'frack'n 'perfect basic strategy' for the game? Please?

      I got yahoos rolling off buses for a good time...I'm trying to make my utility bill.

      Again...Great Read!


    • RaggedyJaneDoe profile image

      RaggedyJaneDoe 6 years ago from Colorado

      Great writing from first to last. And it's a world I've never seen, the late night casino circuit, so it was even more riveting. Well done.

    • Drtruthman profile image

      Drtruthman 6 years ago from Harlingen, Texas

      Interesting story my friend. I do love Vegas and have been there many times but I don't get into the gambling thing. Mainly the shows, food and various entertainment rides. I hate they did away with the Star Trek Experience.

      Anyway except for the language, I enjoyed the story very much and I do appreciate the disclaimer. I voted UP, awesome and interesting. You're a pretty good story teller. Good job.

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I enjoyed the read. It was interesting until the end.A good nite for you standing up for your wife even tho she didn't thank you.Her mind was on the money.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Ron... it's possible she did. I just don't remember and it's a better ending if she doesn't anyway :-)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Jen, I don't mind "bad language" as long as there's a point to it. If it's gratuitous, then it's stupid and loses it's effectiveness. Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

    • SubRon7 profile image

      James W. Nelson 6 years ago from eastern North Dakota

      Never thanked you, huh? I liked it all till then. She could have "grudgingly" mentioned it.

    • profile image

      jenubouka 6 years ago

      I had a great time reading this story. Great narration and totally could envision the plot. Awesome, language never offends me, though I have a rare bad habit of it myself for being a lady.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Alocsin, I ddon't choose my titles on accident. Gotta grab attention :)

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thanks Kimberly. I'm glad you enjoyed this!

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 6 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Thomas, as I was writing this I thought to myself "How would thought sandwiches say this." I hope I did him justice. Did you notice the photo captions? I don't usually caption my photos.

      It was my pleasure to dedicate this to you and I'm glad you're not offended :-)'

      and don't get me started on people who hit 17 when the dealer is showing a low number. I saw a dude it a sixteen with the dealer showing a 16. he took a seven to bust and the dealer got a nice five, to defeat my double down twenty.

      I also enjoy a good game of craps.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      And I thought this was about chasing "straights" as opposed to "gays." Good story though. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 6 years ago from California

      Good narrative. Well written, it kept me reading start to finish.

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      I don't play poker but I do play a pretty mean game of Black you, the tourists deserve what they get...especially when they hit on 17 and take the 10 I needed to go with my 11.

      Awesome story my friend! I most particularly like how you ruminate on your ex..."I gave her the ring she would pawn later that year." LMAO...awesome! A woman's were correct in your actions my friend...kudos!

      Thank you for the dedication! It is truly an honor, good sir!


      PS...turns out...neither bad words or violence seem to offend me.


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