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A Bad Bet
by Andrew Sacks

You know, sometimes you just have to wonder.

There I was, just relaxing and sipping a beer. Didn’t know the bar, but sure knew the game. Liar’s poker. Played with dollar bills, the attendant serial numbers, and more bluffing than calculating. And the winner of each short round gets the bill.

These two guys playing were making the most ridiculous bids imaginable as to what they were holding, and actually laughing and joking when they lost, as the money went into one or the other’s stack of ones. Not only that, but couldn’t they see the large sign behind the bar, not far from them: No Gambling.

To make it even more head-scratching, the guy standing beside them and observing all this risky absurdity looked more like a plain-clothes cop than any I had seen in a movie. Incredible! 

Couldn’t they read? Were they all drunk? Were my own eyes deceiving me?

But then I figured I got more savvy. That sign didn’t mean business; it was just de rigueur. They had to have it up, and in plain sight. The law is the law—but it is easy to turn a blind eye.

I watched with bemused interest for maybe 20 minutes. Then, I couldn’t take it anymore. If there was easy money to be made, let me have some of it.

I paid my modest bar bill and made sure I had a couple of fivers in change. I walked over to the group.

“Gentleman,” I said firmly as I slapped a five on the bar, “I’m in.”

Silence, as the three looked wide-eyed at me.

The third man approached me. “You are proposing to bet that money?”

“Most certainly.”

“Those are off-duty bartenders simply biding their time with the pool tip money. Sir, you are under arrest.”