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All Cards are Wild
by Eric Miller

A poker group at the local tavern invited me to be a substitute. They called themselves "The Studs," more for their aversion to draw poker than their testosterone levels. I told them I was in.

I found the number and monetary limits for raises too limiting, as I believed that poker should frighten your adrenal glands sufficiently to induce rivers of sweat on the forehead and patches of clamminess on the palms of the hands. Penny antes and nickel raises didn't ignite enough heat. I decided to sprinkle enough adrenaline around the table to shorten some breaths, to speed some heartbeats, and to tighten some sphincter muscles.

"I'll see your nickel and raise you a dollar," I said, calmly.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa; you can't do that," Ace Upsleeve counseled.

"I just did," I observed.

"It's not allowed," Jack Spade snapped.

"Says, who?," I countered.

"Me," Quincy Queen announced.

"Well, I don't say so," I differed.

"But it's the rule of the club," Klaus King whined.

"Well, let's change the rule,"  I stated.

"We can't do that," Harry Hart lectured.

"Of course we can," I pressed.

"How?," sniveled Dennie Diamond.

"Someone moves to do so, and we all vote on it," I explained, in my best parliamentary manner.

"No one has moved to do so," Ace stated.

"I move that we do so," I proclaimed. "All in favor say aye."

"Oy vey," the six men said, collectively.

"The ayes have it," I announced.

"I didn't say aye," Jack challenged.

"Me either," said Klaus. "I said oy vey, not aye."

" 'Roget's Thesaurus', as well as 'Roberts Rules of Order', considers them synonyms," I noted. "The bet is a dollar. Who sees it?"

They all dropped out. The pot was mine. Any one of them had a higher hand than I did.

"Whose deal?," I asked.

"Just deal them and shut up," Ace groaned.

"Okay," I said, as I tossed cards around the table to each of them. "We're playing six card no peek. There will be two winners, one high and one low. You can exchange one card for a new card, fifty cents if it's up, a dollar if it's down. The ante is a dollar. There are no limits on the number of raises, but there is a limit on the amount of a raise. It is twenty dollars."

Six men, collectively and in lockstep, fell off their chairs to the floor. LaLa LaRue, the waitress assigned to the game that night, rushed to the table, fell to her knees, and began mouth to mouth breathing on each fallen player in a rhythmic cycle, pressing each sternum as she rotated around the table. As each man opened his eyes to look squarely into LaLa's seductive peepers, a collective smile wrapped around the table.

"That was one hell of a game," Ace said, offering an opinion with which the other five men agreed. "Let's play that game again!"

“LaLa," Harry called out. "Bring another pitcher of beer. No, make it two."