Thursday, February 28, 2013

Twenty-Two--Quincy at the 2005 WSOP

He'd had his look completed by a Piotr-arranged Hollywood makeup artist, Angela Sherry, who, when she leaned in close enough to make sure that his foundation was applied evenly, exposed Quincy to sights he had never seen in high school.  Hollywood cleavage, he thought, and instantaneously sprouted an erection.  He pictured a pond surrounded by naked women with enormous breasts tickling each other with foot-long pink feathers and giggling while Beck played softly in the background.

Give the finger to the rock n roll singer
As he's dancing upon your paycheck
The sales climb high
Through the garbage-pail sky
Like a giant dildo crushing the sun.

Noticing his discomfort, Angela declared, "No foul as long as it stays in the shorts," and resumed her work.  Meanwhile, he concentrated on baseball stats to avoid climax.

Piotr had warned him that if he won, he wouldn't be able to walk away with any money.  "You don't have an SSN.  Just enjoy the experience," Piotr had advised.  Quincy had no clue what an SSN was, but he was already enjoying the experience.  Piotr had also paid the manager of the Rio pit enough money so that when Quincy showed up mustachioed, sporting a bald spot the size of mother Russia, and dragging a cane by his side, Quincy would have no trouble.  Spotting him, the manager squinted, then said under his breath, "Shit.  How old are you supposed to be anyway, kid?"


"Christ."  He laughed.  "You look like walking cancer."

In this way, Quincy entered Event #2, $1,500 no limit holdem.

*     *     *     *     *

He was handed a transparent baggy full of chips and found table 16, seat 7.  There were three other seats open.  His table consisted of five older men and an acne-stained teenage girl wearing gigantic black headphones and lightly bobbing her head.  Sitting down, he opened his bag and saw one red chip, two whites, four blues, eight blacks and eight greens. Fiending for lunch, he mixed his chips into a single heterogeneous stack and wandered off to find a restaurant that served mac n cheese.  After spotting a small eatery near the craps table, where he saw two blonde dealers staring off into the distance, he ate a quick lunch for two bucks, tipped twenty, and headed for the craps table.

"What's this?" he asked.

"Craps," the woman replied.  She woman was wearing a red V-shaped blouse, where the V ended inches above belly button. Las Vegas cleavage, he thought.

"What do I do?" he asked, breathless.

"You put your money on the table."

He pulled a wad out of his pocket and plopped it on the table.

The woman's eyes widened a bit, but she leaned over and passed the cash to the man sitting next to her.  

Once he was done counting, he said, "Cash only, thirty-two thousand four hundred," and, after another pit boss came over to glance over his shoulder and nod, moved two stacks of chips, orange and red, over to her.  When she leaned over to pass the chips to him, he saw that she had an innie.

He put the chips on the rail and stared at the woman.  She looked like Jack Bauer's daughter in 24.  "Put some money on the line," she said pointing in front of him.  He did.  "Roll the dice that way.  Make sure you hit the wall."

Just then, a middle-aged black woman in a miniskirt appeared at his side.  "Would you like a drink?"


She smiled.  "What would you like?"

Quincy couldn't think of anything.  He passed her a green chip and said, "Whatever you would drink."

He rolled for a few minutes.  The waitress came back with a drink that look like Coke but smelled like car fluid.  It was surprisingly sweet.  He drank it in three gulps.  Meanwhile, the dealer took a chip, she gave it back, took another chip, gave it back.  

The waitress came back.  "Would you like a drink?"

He said, "Didn't you just ask me that?"



"Same thing?"


He won a chip, he lost a chip, he won a chip, he lost a chip.  When the waitress returned, he gave her another green chip and finished his drink in five seconds.  He found himself getting bored.  "What's that?" he asked.  He was surprised at how loud he had become.

The dealer seemed unfazed.  She explained the hardways to him.  "Put one of these on all of them," he said, and passed her the orange chips.

"A thousand on each of the hardways," she said, tossing them to the middle.

Quincy ordered another drink and rolled the dice.

"Six . . . hard," she called.  As she leaned with the stick to retrieve the dice, Quincy thought he saw the bronze outline of a nipple.  Like a light switch, his erection returned with a fierceness.  He pushed himself against the craps table in his embarrassment and realized that he couldn't move.  He realized that he was trapped at the craps table.  He was holding a drink in his hand, so he drank it.  

"Press it?" she asked, as he pressed himself against the wood paneling.


"Let it ride?"

Press it let it ride press it let it ride.  He couldn't understand her sex talk.  He took a guess.  "Yes, another drink please."

"You won nine thousand," she said.  "Do you want to bet it?"


He was in pain, but he knew he couldn't move.  He rolled the dice and she called hard eight, at which point he almost lost control, and asked him if he would let it ride.  He said, "Okay," and drank his drink and rolled a few soft numbers and then another hard eight, at which point she told him that he was at the table max and couldn't let it ride, and those words made his erection shrink a bit, which was a good thing, so he said, "Okay," and rolled the dice and she called hard ten, which excited him more than the other hard numbers but he didn't know why, and she asked him to press it and he nodded and his erection returned and then he rolled hard four three times in a row, and he had another drink so he drank it, and before he knew it he was looking at a long row of red chips, given to him by the hottest woman he had ever seen, except for Natalia Pertman, and he had trouble standing up straight.

Then the female dealer said, "Do you want me to ride with you?" and Quincy felt himself get lightheaded.

He meant to say, "Pardon me?"  Instead, his voice uttered this sound: "Uh?"

"I asked if you want me to ride with you."

"In my Maserati?"

She laughed then, as if he was a genuine comedian, and said, "No, silly.  If you want to bet for yourself and for me, I'll be riding with you."

"Okay," said Quincy, and splashed some black chips onto the felt.  

"Put them everywhere?"

"Okay," he replied, and he rolled eleven, at which she called out, "Yo!" and dropped black chips into the box near her hip, and then he rolled a couple more hard ways, and then she called out, "Winner!" louder than before, drawing the attention of players at the roulette wheel, all while Quincy tried to keep his erection trapped against the side of the craps table.  If he moved it for any reason, he knew, disaster could strike.

His rolling and her calls became a blur, until he felt a tap on his shoulder.  He turned and saw the manager of the WSOP, who said, "Take him down," and waited impatiently until Quincy racked up his red, orange, and purple chips.  As he drew him away from the table--the woman calling out, "Thanks!"--the manager said, "Kid, you can't cash those out.  What do you have there?  100k?"

"I dunno."

"Are you drunk?  Come with me," he said, hustling him across the casino, past the cafe and the bar until they were in the poker room.  "They're blinding you off over there.  Take your seat."  And he deposited Quincy at his spot.

When he tried to add the rack of five-thousand-dollar chips to his stack, they spilled onto the felt, and the dealer said, "Sir, you'll have to keep those off the table."

In reply, Quincy burped and tasted mac and cheese and car fluid.  He was dealt 83 offsuit and raised from middle position.  The button reraised him, Quincy shoved, and the button folded.  The girl wearing the black headphones raised a single eyebrow.

He folded a few hands and then raised pocket fours to three hundred from under the gun.  The action folded to the girl with the headphones on the hijack, who reraised him to a thousand.  He shoved, and she instantly called, showing AK offsuit.

The door card was an ace, and Quincy was out of the tournament.

He nodded at her and said, "Nice hand."

She nodded back and replied, "Your mustache is falling off."

As Quincy stood, the manager rushed over to guide him to Piotr, who led him upstairs, chips clacking in his pockets.

"How'd you get all those chips?" Piotr asked.

"Pocket deuces, fours, sixes, and eights," Quincy replied.  Then he meant to say, "Kidnap the craps dealer," but he had already passed out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Twenty-One--Quincy Meets the Shouting Man

Coming upstairs from the basement, where Quincy had been experimenting with a new pattern for Galaga—he loved the old-school games—he froze at his bedroom door.  Next to his bed stood his mother.  In one hand, she held a brown teddy bear that looked like its guts had been turned inside out—but only if its guts were a large Ziploc bag full of cash, which she held in her other hand.

“Poker?” she asked.

He nodded.

“You’re sure this is not from . . . drugs?”

“Drugs?”  He was puzzled.  He tried to imagine an equivalent number of cough drops.

“Come with me,” she commanded.  Quincy followed, thankful that she hadn’t looked inside his box-spring.  Mountains of cough drops in there.

Whenever his mother faced a new problem, she turned to the yellow pages.  And when she wanted to fix an old problem, she used the yellow pages.  She had folded pages from last year’s edition and placed them beneath the lopsided leg of the kitchen table to even it out.  It was her tool of first and last resort.  Any problems that the yellow pages could not fix tended to remain unresolved.

She flipped it open and soon had the pages whirling until her thumb stamped down authoritatively on her destination.  With her free hand, she was already dialing.

When she asked for Doctor Brown, Quincy thought, First drugs, now doctors?

The first half-dozen calls were duds, but Annie had steeled herself for the long haul.  On her seventh call, she asked two questions, smiled at the answers, and was soon driving Quincy through Truckee’s postage-stamp-sized downtown.  When she pulled up at the curb of an office building, Quincy had the strongest feeling of déjà vu

Suite 105,” she said.  “Go.  Teddy will be right here waiting for you when you come out.”

He was worried.  “Who’s in there?”

“A nice man who wants to talk with you.”

“Does the nice man run fast?”

She gave him the same smile she used to give him when he would say silly things about kindergarten.  Like: Do I get paid to go to school?  “Well I don’t know, sweetness.  Why do you ask?”

“I just wanna know how much of a head start I’m going to need if the nice man is going to chase me to the car like the Gamblers Anonymous people did.”

“Oh,” she said.  “Ha ha.  Don’t worry.  He sounded quite old.”

Quincy remembered the septuagenarian who had been leading the pack chasing him that night.  In his desperation, the oldster had nearly used his cane as a pole vault to launch his surprisingly athletic body at his mother’s car.

“Some old people run fast,” he said.  “The crazy ones.”

“Well—ha ha—he’s not crazy.  In fact, he’s going to help you with your—” she stopped herself short.  She leaned across him and opened his door a crack.  “Go.”

Inside, the place smelled of disinfectant.  He wandered along a long, white-tiled hallway until he saw a picture on a door of a doctor with a stethoscope lifting the top of a patient’s head like the lid of a cookie jar and peering at the gray matter inside.  The doctor looked ecstatic.  Below the picture: 105.

“Oh no,” Quincy whispered.

He knocked as lightly as he could, hoping that there would be no answer.  Instead, a voice inside bellowed, “In!”

Quincy sighed and opened the door to reveal a closet-sized space bisected by a desk behind which sat a man whose nose, eyes, and forehead were surrounded by grizzly grey hair poking in all directions.  Somewhere inside his thick beard, a mouth nearly shouted, “Sit!”

The room was so small that the doctor’s desk touched the east and west walls.  Two bookshelves populated with brown and gray tomes stood like frowning guards behind the doctor.  To sit, Quincy had to shut the door first.  Once he did, he felt overwhelmed by the smell of sweat.  He had to move the chair in front of the door to seat himself.

Beneath bushy eyebrows, the doctor’s eyes sparkled with insanity.  “My name is Kvist!” he nearly bellowed.  “Doctor Kvist!  I ask many questions!  You give many answers!  We see if you are crazy!”  Kvist released a surprisingly high-pitched, feminine giggle.

The shouting was stressing Quincy out, so he shouted back, “Okay!”

“Your name!”


“Cash or charge!”


“You pay before we begin!  Cash or charge!”

“Cash!”  Quincy pulled a wad of hundreds out of his pocket.  “How much!”

Kvist’s voice suddenly dropped to a whisper: “Two hundred.”  Quincy peeled off two Benjamins and placed them on the table.  When Kvist snapped them up, Quincy recalled the time he tossed a fish into the mouth of a grizzly bear at the zoo.

After the bills disappeared, Kvist shouted, “We begin!”


“Four men on the train tracks!”


“Four men on the track tracks!  The train is coming!  You can stop the train by pushing a man off a bridge in front of the train!  If you do it, you save the other four!  Do you do it!”


“You see a bum dying in an alleyway!  He has money!  Do you take it!”

“Yes!”  Actually, he had done exactly that in order to cobble together a roll for poker.  Easy questions, Quincy observed.

“What is your favorite color!”

Tough one.  He pondered a bit.  Then he shouted, “Blue!”

“What color is your underwear!”


“Coffee or tea!”


"Would you ever kill another person!"




"Would you ever punch another person!"


"Cut another person!"


"Kidnap another person!"

Quincy thought briefly of Natalia Pertman.  "Yes!"

"Rob a bank!"


“How much money do you have in your pocket!”

“About 5k!”

“Where did you get it!”


“Aren’t you too young for that!”


“How old are you!”


Quincy’s ears were ringing.  He wanted to get out . . . now.

“Now we do the speed round!  You look at pictures and tell me what you see!”


"What is this!"  He showed him a card:

"Pocket sevens!"

"Pocket sevens?"

"Pocket sevens!"

"What is pocket sevens!"

"Two sevens!"

"Are you serious!"


"What is this!"

"Natalia Pertman playing paddy cake with Natalia Pertman!"

"Who's that!"

"She's in movies!"

"What is this!"

Quincy laughed.

"Why do you laugh!"

"That's Piotr in a swordfight with the jack of diamonds!"

"Who is Piotr!"

"My agent!"

"What is this!"

"Ace of spades pooping a bowling ball!"

Kvist turned the card toward himself and peered at it.  "I see that," he whispered.  "I do."  He showed him another card.

"What is that!"

"Natalia Pertman wearing a bat suit!"



"It's a bat!  It's obviously a bat!  So say it's a bat!"

"It's Natalia Pertman in a bat suit!"

"What is that!"

Quincy blushed deeply.

"Answer!" prodded Kvist.




"Just say it!"

"It's an animal skin!"

"Animal skin?  This is why you blush?"

Quincy looked down, nodded.

"No, kid!  Tell me!  Tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me tell me--"

"She's naked!"

"Naked!  Who!"

"Natalia Pertman!"

"What?  Forget that one.  What are these!"

"A poker table!  Two bears climbing onto Natalia Pertman!  Ten nine of diamonds!  Two gigantic nuns trying to eat the Eiffel Tower!"

"We finish!" Kvist declared.  "Sit!  I write my analysis!"

He finished his analysis within ten seconds, folded it in half, slipped it into an envelope, and sealed it.

"Finish!" Kvist said.  "Go!"

Quincy hurried from the room as quickly as he could, but the chair kept getting in the way of the door.  Once he was outside, he ran down the hallway and through the entrance into the sunshine.  Teddy had parked his Mom's Subaru at the curb.

Once inside the car, Teddy said, "So what happened?"

Quincy shrugged.  "Lots of yelling."

"Who?  Him?"

"Both of us."

Teddy saw the envelope and motioned for Quincy to hand it over.  Quincy did.  Teddy opened it.  It read:

PATIENT NAME:  ________Quincy Capers            


PATIENT      Quincy Capers     possesses the following disorders.

  X     Sociopath   

  ?      Psychopath


 NO   Delusions of Grandeur  

  X     Crazy

  X     Needs to be hospitalized

Yours Truly,

Klaus Kvist

P.S. Keep patient away from poker and movies starring Natalia Pertman.  The kid is obsessed.

"Huh," Teddy said.

"What does it say?" Quincy asked.

"Never mind.  Tell you what.  Gimme a thousand bucks and we'll make this letter disappear."

"Do I want it to disappear?" Quincy asked.

"You do if you like poker."

Quincy pulled out his roll and handed Teddy a thousand dollars.

Teddy ripped the letter into pieces, rolled down the window half an inch, and pushed the pieces through the gap.  "Now let's go get some pizza."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Twenty--Quincy's Unaired Jeopardy Episode (Part 2)

Quincy approached the stage trying to remember all of the things he had ever learned in school, because suddenly those details were worth cash.  The names Einstein, FDR and LBJ—although he did not know what those initials stood for—Stalin, Mao, Chamberlain, Magellan, Don Knotts, Casey Kasem, Walt Disney, and John Wayne flitted through his mind like fireflies, irregularly blinking lights on a road to nowhere.

As they took the stage, the Applause sign started flashing rapidly, and the crowd obliged.  An invisible announcer intoned, “This . . . is . . . Jeopardy!  Welcome to our Child Prodigy Edition!  Let’s meet our contestants!  From Santa Ana, California, Amanda Barth!  From Jacksonville, Florida, Tom Newsome!  And from Truckee, California, Quincy Capers!  And nowwwww . . . Alex Trebek!

Trebek was a quick mover.  He appeared onstage to raucous applause, waving at the contestants and then at the crowd.  He welcomed everyone and got right to work by introducing the topics: Games, Music, Cartoons, Geography, Colors, and Historical Figures.

Quincy quickly realized that except for Games he was screwed.  Amanda, who had been randomly selected to choose the first topic, opted for Colors for $100.  Alex’s question, “This fruit is named after this color, or this color is named after the fruit,” was promptly and gleefully answered by Amanda, “What is orange?” and Quincy quietly cursed the gimme question; it would give her confidence and ease her jitters—jitters which she might not have had in the first place, as she proceeded to go four for five in the Colors category and take an early, commanding 1,200 to zip to zero lead.

After Amanda selected Cartoons, Tom grabbed the baton that she had been carrying, methodically swept the category, and leaped into the lead.  The Answers: Snoopy, Family Circus, Garfield, Foghorn Leghorn, and Super Genius.  Scarcely five minutes had passed before Quincy decided that he had run card-dead long enough.

And so when Tom selected Music for $100, Quincy pushed the button on his selector stick before he even heard the answer.  Trebek read it anyway, “These musicians won’t get fooled again.  Quincy?”

He stared vacantly until the buzzer sounded.  But nobody else got it either.  A micro-smile appeared and disappeared from Trebek's face.  “Who are . . . the Who?"  The crowd chuckled.  Trebek said, "Tom?"

Tom chose Music for $200.  “This British band used Hells Angels as security during their concerts until the Disaster at AltamontQuincy?”

Again Quincy stared vacantly until the buzzer went off.  This time, he was not thinking of an answer.  He only thought, That fuckball was smirking at me.


“Who are the Rolling Stones?”

“That’s it!  Select.”

Tom and Amanda selected the remaining Music questions, added to their scores, and Trebek said, summing up the action, “Here are the scores.  Tom leads with $1,900, Amanda is in second with $1,800, and Quincy pulls up the rear with negative $300.  We’ll be right back.”

The Applause signs began to blink, and the audience erupted with clapping.  Trebek cupped the mic and said to Quincy, “It’s always better to guess than to say nothing.”

Quincy cupped his mic and replied, “It's always better to hump your fist than to let it build up.”

Trebek turned his ear toward Quincy, straining to hear him, then shook his head.  He visibly straightened himself nevertheless, seeming to be a full three inches taller. 

“And we’re back in—” the director began and held up three fingers, then two, then one, and then made a fist.

Alex smiled at the camera.  “And we’re back.  Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit about our contestants.”  He looked at an index card.  “Amanda, it says here that you have several unique musical talents.  Care to share one with the audience?”

Amanda blushed.  “Well, I can play anything by Tchaikovsky.  While blindfolded.  And riding a bicycle.  Down a hill.”  The crowd clapped hesistantly.  Then she added glumly, "That was a joke."

The Laughter sign blinked furiously.  A few people chuckled.

“Very impressive,” Trebek replied, but one of his eyebrows had risen to an odd height.  He flipped the index card over.  “Tom, you’ve entered over a dozen spelling bees and have yet to lose.”  The audience oooo’ed.  “Care to tell us your secret?”

“I have memorized all of the words in existence.”

"Even Latin words, Tom?"

"Even Taushiro, Alex."  In response to Trebek's quizzical look, Tom added, "Native language of Peru.  One of the rarest in the world."

“Quick, spell pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism.”

“P – S – E – U—”

“Just kidding, Tom.  It’s only a half hour show.”  The Laughter sign gave off a series of rapid-fire blinks; the audience giggled.  “Quincy.  It says here that you have a knack for games.”

"Yep."  A vacuum seemed to have opened up in the room, sucking away all of the sound.

Piercing the void, Trebek continued, "And you . . . play poker for money?  Can that be legal?"

"No, Alex.  It can't."

Before the void could creep back in, Trebek responded smilingly, “Well, I guess you've realized by now that Jeopardy isn't poker.  You’re sitting in third place.  Let’s see if your gambler's instincts can turn things around.”

"The game is already over.  I'm slowrolling a fullhouse."

Trebek began blinking rapidly, like a mechanical doll revealing its defect.  Then the blinking abruptly stopped, and Trebek smiled.  “Tom," he said, "your turn to select.”

Tom chose Historical Figures for $100.

“Let them eat cake was incorrectly attributed to this queen of France,” said Trebek.  Quincy buzzed in.  “Quincy?”

“Who was Karl Marx?”

“Uh . . . no.”  Another buzzer went off.  “Amanda?”

“Who was Marie Antoinette?”


“Historical Figures for $200.”

"This first president of the United States."  Quincy pressed his buzzer furiously.  "Quincy?"

"Who is Karl Marx?"

"Incorrect."  Tom nailed it a second later, as well as the three- and four-hundred dollar questions.  Somehow, he was outbuzzing Quincy.  When he called for Historical Figs for five, Quincy was jamming his buzzer as if he was fighting his way through the toughest part of Grand Theft Auto III.

“This philosopher’s lesser-known works include Capital and the Poverty of Philosophy.  Quincy?”

“Who is Karl Marx?”

Trebek seemed visibly rattled.  “Uh, correct,” he said.  A few gasps could be heard.  “Quincy, select.”

“Games for five.”

Lights flashed and zapping sounds zapped.  “And we have our first Daily Double!  Quincy, you have negative one hundred dollars, but you can risk as much as one thousand.”


“For one thousand dollars, the answer: In this tile-based Chinese game, players compete with bamboos, stones, characters, winds, and dragons.”

“What is mah jong.”  And then quickly, before Alex could say “Correct,” and before the audience could clap, Quincy said, “Games for four.”

“Uh, correct.”  The crowd clapped.  “This Russian chessmaster who defeated Capablanca was incorrectly branded an anti-Semite during World War II.  Quincy.”

“Who was Alexander Alekhine.  Games for three.”  Luckily, Piotr Gleeman worshipped Alekhine.  His agent talked about Alekhine not only as if he were alive, but as if he might suddenly pop out from behind a corner and invite Piotr to play a game of blitz.

 “Correct.  In a standard deck of 52 playing cards, this card has become known as ‘the laughing boy.’  Quincy.”

“What is the jack of diamonds?  Games for two.”

“Correct.  The only chess piece that can jump over any other chess piece.  Quincy.”

“What is the knight?  Games for one.”

“Correct.  The most expensive piece of property on an original Monopoly board.  Quincy.”

“What is Boardwalk?  Gimme a break.”

“Correct.”  Quincy heard strong applause.  A new sound effect suddenly went off, and Trebek said, “And we’re out of time for Single Jeopardy.  Come back after these messages to see our contestants square off in Double Jeopardy!”

“Annnnnd commercial!” announced the director.

Quincy,” Trebek said in a steely voice.  “You give your answer, and then you wait for me to tell you whether it is correct or not.  Then you select your next question.  That’s how it works.”

“You got it backwards, Trebek.”


“You give us the answers.  We provide the questions.”

Trebek said firmly, “The question is the answer.”

“Don’t you know how your own show works?”

“When we get back on the air—”

“Naked freckled boy scout.”

Trebek frowned, shook his head.  “Pardon?”

“That’s the answer.  Then I give the question, ‘Who is handcuffed to Trebek's bed?’  Then you say ‘Correct’ and I choose the next topic.”

“Five seconds!” shouted the director.  He held up an open hand.

Trebek's eyes were wide as plates.  "Do you know what I am, you lit-tle piece of shit?" he said in the oddest singsong voice Quincy had ever heard.  The director's fingers, which had been counting down, froze at three.  "I'm the king of game shows.  You try to upstage me on my own show?  You've got--"

"I prefer," Quincy interrupted, "Wink Martindale."

Trebek's head jerked backwards as if he'd been slapped.

The director, snapping out of his shock, made a fist and started waving it wildly in the air.  "We're running!" he croaked.

Trebek's blink reflex was machinegunning.  He turned to the crowd with a smile more plastic than the worst bluffer.  "Excuse me, folks.  We'll edit that unfortunate exchange out of the program."

All of the Applause lights started flashing, but the audience remained silent.

"One more time!" the director pleaded, holding up his hand and counting down to zero.

Once the director made a fist, Trebek gave a warm smile to the camera and said, “And we’re back with Double Jeopardy.  In quite a turnaround, Quincy has plunged into the lead with $2,500, but Amanda and Tom are close behind with $2,000 and $1,800.  Our categories: Movies, American Literature, Funny People, Name That Snack, World Cuisine, and Find the Dead Guy.  Quincy, select.”

“Dead Guy for a dime.”

Trebek paused.  “The dollar amounts are $200 to $1,000.  A dime is not one of the choices.”

“Even the freckled boy scout knows what a dime is, Alex.”

Half of the crowd gasped; the other half laughed.  Trebek looked to his director and gave him the let’s-cut-that-part hand across the throat.

“For one thousand,” Trebek continued.  “Abe Vigoda, Jimmy Carter, Boris Yeltsin, Margaret Thatcher.  Quincy.”

“Who is Boris Yeltsin?”

“Correct.  Quincy understood that of the four people listed, three are living and one is dead.”

“So that's what it is,” Quincy pondered.  “Cool.  Dead Guys for $800.”

“Louie Anderson, Jerry Seinfeld, Rita Rudner, George Carlin.  Quincy.”

“Who is George Carlin?”


“Dead Guys for six.”

The zappy sounds zapped, and the set lights flashed.  “Our second Daily Double!  Quincy, you have $4,300, more than double Amanda’s total in second place.  How much would you—?”

Quincy felt that the audience wanted an excuse to shift over to his side.  It turned out this game was pure momentum, just like poker.  Better not to lose it.  "All in.”  

Trebek hesitated, seeming to consider whether to ask what Quincy meant, but then he thought better of it.  “For $4,300 and a commanding lead: Willie Shoemaker, Luis Tiant, Y.A. Tittle, Kenny Stabler?”

He pointed one hand toward the electric-blue monitor and bobbed his finger back and forth between the options.  Finally, he said, “Who is Willie Shoemaker?”

With a dead face: “Correct.”

The crowd exploded.

Once the applause had died down, Trebek asked coolly, “Would you mind telling the audience what you were doing there?”

“Eeny meeny miney mo, Alex.


Barring any setback, the result of the game had already been decided.  Quincy tried sleeping with his eyes open, and found that he could not do it.  For Final Jeopardy he bid $1, because he could not lose, and without bothering to listen to the final answer, he wrote as the final question, “Who is Alex Trebek?”

When his question was revealed, the audience burst out laughing, and Quincy did not know why.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nineteen--Quincy's Unaired Jeopardy! Episode (Part 1)

Quincy waited in the Green Room with two other kids, a boy with braces and a girl wearing polka dots.  From an intercom they could hear a comedian warming up the Jeopardy! crowd with a few jokes.  "I met Natalya Pertman on a movie set once," he said.  "Nice girl, friendly.  I told her that my girlfriend looks a little bit like her . . . and a lot like Joe Pesci."  A smattering of laughter.

Quincy never would have thought to try out for the show.  In fact, he had not tried out.  It had all been the idea of Piotr Gleeman, his agent.

“What’s Jeopardy?”

“It’s a game show on TV.”

“What’s the most I can win?”

“Maybe $50,000.”

“That’s it?”

“Just do it.  I’m not just going to be your go-to guy for islands and movie stars and Lamborghinis.  I'm your agent.  I'm building your image.

“You haven’t gotten me any of those things yet.”

"What's the Death Star?"

"Unpaved islands don't count.  Plus, there's no castle in the middle yet.  No moat.  No standing army."

"You don't have the money yet."

Quincy was exasperated.  "Well, I'm not going to get the money on a show that only pays fifty thousand dollars a day!"

Yet here he sat in the Green Room, across from his enemies.  When Quincy had confessed to Piotr that he didn't know any trivia, Piotr had advised him to use poker strategy on his opponents.  As for the history questions, how should guess Karl Marx for all of them.

“You’ll have to trashtalk these kids," Piotr had said that morning over chocolate pancakes at IHOP.  "Get inside their heads.  If you’re going to win, you’ve got to rattle them.  Bad.”  Then he had started rambling about how Quincy was not a poker player but a product, one that needed to be marketed, like Cheez Whiz.  And what better way to market Quincy at this early stage of his poker career than by having him demonstrate his smarts on national television?

Quincy would have replied, "Smarts?  I'm a C student," but he had stopped listening.  He was devising a trashtalk strategy.   As he saw it, he faced one problem, a major one.  He had never trashtalked anyone before.  Sure, he had infuriated other kids on the playground before, but he managed to do that simply by telling the truth.  And when he told the truth, he occasionally found himself waxing poetic.  "Your head has a weird shape," he told one of the school bullies once.  "I bet it stays that way for life.  A broken compass always pointing east."  Before he could suggest a visit to a carpenter with a powerful head vice, the bully had pummeled him silent.

No, trashtalk was different.  

He examined the other two contestants, a fifteen-year-old girl who had already produced three CDs of solo classical violin and a sixteen-year-old who had gone 15-for-15 in every spelling bee he had ever entered.

"Salmon," he said.  "And white wine."

They both turned to look at him.  The girl was wringing her hands.  "Huh?" said Spelling Bee.

"As you were flying in here with Mommy and Daddy, maybe you had a turkey club sandwich.  I was having the salmon and wine.  On my jet."  Actually, he'd had cold, waxy chicken on Southwest Airlines and a bag of peanuts, but they didn't know that.

"BS," replied Spelling Bee indifferently.

Weakvery weak.  Time to find another gear.

“You watch, shitheads,” Quincy said.  “When you’re both under the bright lights, see what happens.  You’ll start getting nervous.  You’ll get sweaty.  You’ll forget things.  And I’m going to be there waiting to take you both down.”

“No one cares, hotshot!" added the girl forcefully.

"You mean," the boy added, "like the bright lights of a spelling bee?"

Oh, they came to play, did they?  Quincy's mind raced.  Plan C, the Dark Option, required him to lean forward and drop his voice to a whisper.  “You could dump gasoline over me and set me on fire,” he said, smiling, “and you know what I would do next?"


"I would run towards you.  Grab you both in a great big screaming bear hug and never let go.  Burn unit, three incoming.”

A man with a clipboard poked his head in the door.  “Okay kids, you ready?  We’re on in two minutes.  Let’s go have some fun!  Follow me.”

His head disappeared.  Quincy added, “Charred skin smells like burnt peanuts.  They'd put you in a little bag and serve you to your parents on the flight home.”

They stood, the girl a little shakily, and walked toward the door, Quincy singing, "I'll stop the world and melt with you."

He found that he enjoyed talking trash.  It satisfied an inner need.  Why, he wondered, don't people do it more often?

Now let's go meet this fuckball Trebek.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eighteen--A Very Quincy Valentines Day

When February 14th rolled around during tenth grade, Quincy was prepared.  The ritual had been long established: Kids exchanged valentine notes, candy--usually little hearts stamped with sayings like "Be Mine" and "I'm Yours"--and occasionally, when a kid was feeling an extra bit of longing, a red rose or two.  Great successes and horrible failures could be witnessed on February 14th--girls squealing, boys suffering rejection stoically in front of their lockers.  Quincy waited at his desk, 15 minutes before home room was about to begin, casting a quick glance at the desk at the front of his row.

Someone tapped his shoulder.  He turned and saw no one.  Then he felt a tap on his other shoulder.  he spun in his chair and caught Piotr's hand.  "Sucker," his agent said.  "You always fall for the same trap.  In chess and in life."

Quincy had nothing to say in reply.

"What's going on?" Piotr asked.  Then his eyes went wide.  "Ohhhh.  It's that day."  Quincy crouched a bit in his chair, as if trying to distance his ears from his agent's words.  "Are you kidding, Quince?  It's not gonna work.  She's out of your league."

"This is the turn," Quincy mumbled.

"Huh?  The turn?  You've been trying how long?  First, it was seventh grade--"

"Preflop," Quincy corrected.

"Then eighth grade you tried to--"


"Quincy, she's not a poker hand."

Quincy pondered this statement.  He looked up at Piotr.  "Maybe she is," he said.

"You're nuts."

He glanced again at the desk at the front of the row.  A white box sat atop it.  He shrugged.  "I know."

Piotr followed his gaze, saw the box.  "As your agent, it is my professional advice that you get that box before she--"

But it was already too late.  She breezed by them both in a sleeveless white top and flower-patterned blue skirt, leaving behind the scent of gardenias.  At her desk, she stopped and looked down for less than a second at the box.  Then she turned and leveled an angry gaze at Quincy.

"What's this?" she said.

Quincy was in shock.  He opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, and managed to say, "Gah."

"Is this yours?" she demanded.

Quincy could only stare.

"I said, is this from you?"  She had her bookbag wrapped in both arms across her chest.  Shifting her balance to one leg, she looked like she was about to start tapping her foot as she awaited his reply.

Finally, he shook his head.

Her eyebrows rose, her expression changing from anger to pity.  She sighed, set down her books and opened the box.

Quincy pretended not to watch.  He made it look like he was staring out the window, but he could still see her in his peripheral vision.

"Oh.  My.  God," she whispered.  He resisted turning his head.  Finally she said softly, "What are you thinking?"

He couldn't help himself; he turned to look.  She stood in front of her desk, the box open in front of her.  In her hands, she held bills.  A stack of bills.

"Are these all . . . hundreds?" she whispered.

Quincy felt that now was the time to speak.  "Yeah," he whispered back.  I bought you an island too, he thought--but for some reason, he could not say those words.

"This must be . . . ten thousand dollars."

"Yeah."  He had found a word that he could say, and he was determined to stick with it.

"And last year you gave me two thousand."


"And five hundred the year before that."


She just stared at him.  Money in her hands, she slowly approached him.  He felt himself involuntarily sinking down into his seat.  When she reached his desk, she learned toward his ear and whispered, "Quincy, I'm not a hooker."  Then she walked to the end of the aisle and glided out of the room.

Seconds after she left, Piotr poked his head through the door and then, seeing that the coast was clear, rushed over.  "How'd it go?  Bad, right?"



"Real good."

"What'd she say?"

Quincy beamed.  "She told me she's not a hooker."

Piotr resisted laughing.  "Man, that's not good."

"No, it's good.  Very good."

For once, Piotr was baffled.  "Why?"

"Because she kept the money," Quincy said matter-of-factly.  He was nodding and smiling.

Piotr raised a single eyebrow.  "Quincy, she keeps the money every year."

Doesn't matter, thought Quincy.  The hand isn't over.  This was the turn.  Next year is the river.  Next year, she gets the island.  I kidnap her.  I put her in a cage on a speedboat.  And I show her the island.    Then we fall in love.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Seventeen--Quincy Goes to Gamblers Anonymous

Even for a man as ready as Teddy Capers was to believe in his own genius, suspicion crept in.  Success of all kinds confused him, even though he felt that he deserved everything the world had to offer--and more.  Whenever he won at anything, he began to feel twitchy.  His twitchiness led him to search his PokerStars transactions, which led him to narc to Annie, Quincy's mother, which led them both to confront Quincy about two mysterious 40k transfers--one to Teddy's account from a player named Tipper Gore and another back to Tipper thirty-two minutes later--an interrogation that led to Quincy's speedy, indifferent confession.

"Yeah, that was me," Quincy said.  "Can we have hot dogs for dinner?"

They were dumbfounded.  Finally Annie said, "Who do you know that has forty thousand dollars on a poker site?"

"Phil Hellmuth, Patrik Antonius.  Me.  The other guys' names I don't know.  And can we have chili too?"

"How old are these other players?"

"I dunno.  Thirteen?"

Teddy said, "No.  Patrik Antonius is a man.  You're playing with full-grown men."

"Oh.  Cool."

"Are you telling your mother that money is yours?" Annie asked.


The questioning intensified, which led to the following answers: I won it; I don't know, I just go all in a lot, they call me a luckbox; No, that's not all of the money I have, do you want some?

Do you want some?  Teddy instantly began to picture a canary yellow speedboat scissoring through the water, his hair whipped by warm Caribbean winds, a bottle of SoCo--no, Patron--in his fist, women laughing, cheering him on, applauding him for crying out loud, a whole boatful of women, topless, but then he felt his intestines dissolve when Annie said firmly, "No, we don't want your money.  We want you to put that money into a savings account.  For college.  Don't you see that you need help?"

Quincy's mouth fell open.  "Help?"

After a quick search online and an equally brief phone call, Annie discovered not only that Truckee had a chapter of Gamblers Anonymous in town--Truckee was, after all, less than 40 minutes from Reno--but that the meeting was about to begin.  She sped him down there, unlocked his door, and said, "I'll wait out here till you're done."

"What do I do?"

"You go in there, young man."

Her gaze was steel.  "Do I have to?" he pleaded.

"Go.  Now.  Listen to the horror."

He went.  Pushing through the doors, he tried to find a corner seat, but an adult standing at a podium said, "Son, are you looking for someone?"

"Um, no.  I'm here for the gambling."

Laughter rang through the room.  Podium said, "Gambling?  You mean like flipping baseball cards?  You're eleven."

More laughter.  Quincy replied, "Thirteen.  Card flipping was kindergarten.  Now I do 5k NL mostly."

The grin on Podium's face wilted.  "5k NL."

"No limit.  Some PLO.  Badugi sometimes, although I really don't know how to play that one, but I give action in badugi to get action in other games.  Oh yeah--razz."

Podium frowned in a way that made Quincy uncomfortable.  "So, you love poker," Podium said.  A statement, not a question.

"I guess."

"It's like a whole bag full of Halloween candy."

Quincy gave it some thought.  "No, it's sort of like a drunk uncle who has money falling out of his pocket."

"And you can't live without it."

"Yeah.  I bet I can't."

The crowd gasped; Podium's eyes widened.  "Son, we never use that word here."

Quincy tried to recall if he had said a bad word.  He was pretty sure he hadn't.  He said, "Oh."

"It's okay, son.  Tell us your story."

He didn't know how to answer him.  He ventured, "Well, everyone is dealt two cards--"

"No no no no no no.  Tell us how you came to hit rock bottom.  Tell us about the descent.  Did you betray trust?"

"Rock bottom?"

"For example," Podium said, stepping from behind the podium and gesturing toward the crowd.  "There's Tom, who lost his house playing video blackjack.  Janice, who got fired playing scratch-offs at work.  And Ryan, who due to his addiction to craps came home to find that his wife and kids had vanished."

Quincy giggled.  He couldn't help it.

"Son, it's unwise to laugh at these meetings."  Quincy silently recalled how the whole lot of them had just been laughing at him.  "We're all in the same boat," Podium continued.

"We are?"

Podium's tilted his head to one side.  "We aren't?"

"I don't think so."

"Why not?"

"Because I win."

The room fell silent; fifty eyes turned ravenous.  Quincy interpreted the vacuum as an invitation to continue, so he said, "Mom knows about the 40k that I transferred, that's how I ended up here, I built it up from twenty bucks, but she'll be real mad if she finds out about the Full Tilt money and she'll explode if she sees my balance on Absolute or my savings account or the money I stuffed in my pillowcase to buy the Death Star because if 40k got me down here, the rest of it could make them put me on death row."

Podium just stared.  For once, he was speechless.  A female voice from the back of the room asked, "How do you do it?"



"Margot--" Podium tried to interrupt; but Quincy said, "Oh, that's easy."

"How?" several voices asked simultaneously.

Podium held out his hands.  "Chuck, Susan, don't forget how you--"

"Let the nice boy speak, godamnit!" shrilled and old man from his wheelchair.

Quincy began to back toward the door.  He said, "I should--"

"Block the door," someone shouted.  A half-dozen voices erupted at once.  The only words he heard: pillowcase, stop, grab, teach.

Quincy bolted, ducking under an old woman's claw as he pushed through the door.  She scraped his neck, but he broke free.

From the car, Annie caught movement from the corner of her eye.  She turned to see Quincy racing down the walkway toward the car, his arms flailing around his head.  Why does he always run so funny? she wondered.  Then she saw a throng of people, led by a surprisingly fast septuagenarian, in close pursuit.

She pushed open his door with her foot.  As Quincy dove across the passenger seat, she stepped on the gas.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Sixteen--The End of Quincy's Lesson (Part 3)

After darting through the screen door and hiding for half an hour behind the rosebushes, Quincy gradually became convinced that Teddy wasn't lying in wait for him.  So he sneaked back to the living room window and peeked inside.

Mouth agape, Teddy lay motionless on the La-Z-Boy.  Quincy thought he heard him snoring.  He crept to the back door, pushed it open as quietly as he could, and tiptoed into the living room.  Teddy's laptop was no longer on his lap.

Instead, Teddy's pants were missing.  Hairless legs ended at sky blue socks, one of them hanging precariously from Teddy's bigtoe.  Dad, he told himself, I gotta call him Dad.  Both of Dad's hands were wrapped around his flaccid penis.  From the floor next to the La-Z-Boy, Quincy heard moaning and sighing.  Glancing down, Quincy noticed the laptop.  Next to it, an empty bottle of Southern Comfort.

"Dad?" Quincy asked softly.

No response.  He picked up the laptop.  A woman seemed to be using a man's waist as a trampoline.  He closed that screen to reveal Teddy's--Dad's--PokerStars cashier screen: $265.20.

New Dad is a loser, he thought.

From his Mom's computer in the bedroom, he opened his own account and transferred $40,000 to Dad's account, planning to transfer it back later.  Then he started up a dozen $1000NL tables on Dad's account.

Dad's account name was Gorillacock.  Within 90 seconds, Gorillacock had doubled up at three tables and been stacked at four.  After ten minutes, Gorillacock's threebet percentage from late position was 80 percent.

He knew that the game was useless unless he was playing for big stacks, so Gorillacock kept taking big risks, doubling up or getting stacked.  He closed his losing tables until he saw himself sitting with a $4,200 stack at a table that had two other monster stacks: $3,600 and $5,050.

When he was dealt king-eight of diamonds under the gun, he whispered breathlessly, "The epileptic chihuahua."  Gorillacock raised.  A big stack in middle position called, and the button, who had the table's biggest stack, reraised to $100.  Quincy and the other player called.

The flop came ace of diamonds, king of spades, eight of spades.

Maybe ace king caught up, Quincy worried.  He checked, middle position checked, and the button made a pot-sized bet.  Quincy raised to $850.  Middle position folded, and the button called.

Yep, Quincy thought.  Ace king.

The turn revealed the deuce of diamonds, giving Quincy a flush draw.  Gorillacock checked and, when the button made a pot-sized bet, instantly shoved all in.  Before the button could call and reveal pocket kings, Quincy was already celebrating.

He didn't see the button expose middle set.  Nor did he see the river diamond, which gave Quincy the flush.

He was too busy hopping from one foot to the other and waving his hands above his head, as silently as possible so as not to awake his new drunk semi-naked stepfather, who would awaken in the morning with his laptop back on his midsection, covering his manhood.

Teddy's first thought upon waking: Where are my pants?

Then he brought up the cashier screen--$4,487--and had his second thought of the morning: I should get hammered and play poker more often.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fifteen--Quincy's Lesson Continues (Part 2)

Teddy Capers deposited a thousand on PokerStars and rebought for hundred, which he lost with pocket tens to a set on a rag board--Quincy twice refilling his stepdad's glass with SoCo--then Teddy rebought for another hundred, which slid to the button when Teddy's rivered straight didn't hold up on a four-flush board, at which point Teddy waved away the glass and started drinking from the bottle.  His king queen lost to ace king; his jacks succumbed to aces.

Quincy thought, He's playing like the French in Risk.

"I can't believe my luck," Teddy wheezed, watching in horror as another of his Benjamins moved to another luckbox opponent.  "Wait--that was a mistake!  I've got two pair!  He's got--"

"A straight," Quincy said.

"No!  He . . . oh," Teddy's exclamation had reduced to a mumble.  He let his head hang, regarded the bottle in his hand with watery eyes.  Quincy feared he might weep.

"Try this," Quincy whispered.

Teddy stared at the carpet.  He lifted the bottle to his mouth and tilted his head back; his adam's apple bobbed thrice.  Wiping his lips with the back of his free hand, he muttered, "Try what."

"Put your hand over your cards."

Teddy turned and fixed one red eye upon him like a hammerhead shark.  "On the screen?"  Quincy nodded.  One of Teddy's eyebrows rose half an inch.  Then his stepdad just shook his head and laughed. It sounded like the laugh of a man who knew he was about to fall down some stairs.  But he did as instructed.  "Okay, junior genius.  What next?"

"What do you want to be dealt?"

"What do I want?  What do I want?"  Then, to himself: "Now he's the Make A Wish Foundation."  He laughed again, darkly.

The software dealt him two cards.  They were hidden under his fingers.  He started to move his hand when Quincy insisted, "Don't look."

Teddy eyed the boy, then gave the screen his most serious look.  He said, "Okay.  I want aces.  Two black aces."

"Okay.  Play it that way."

The action folded to Teddy.  "I raise."  He moved the slider to four dollars and clicked the button.

Everyone folded, except the button, who reraised to 12 bucks.

Through gritted teeth, Teddy said, "I raise," making it $34.

The big blind shoved all in.  Teddy called instantly.

The flop, turn, and river were all aces and face cards.

He lifted his hand to see the eight of clubs and the six of hearts.  A hundred dollars of Teddy's money joined the button's stack.

Bad luck, the button typed.

Very slowly, Teddy swiveled in his chair to face Quincy.

Quincy wanted to say, Well, it works for me!  

Instead, he said, "Oops."  And ran.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fourteen--Quincy "Learns" How to Play NL (Part 1)

Three days after his mother's Las Vegas marriage to Teddy Capers, Teddy settled into his La-Z-Boy in the living room and opened his laptop.  "Hey kid," he said.

Quincy looked up from his Risk board.  A six-sided war between Germany, Japan, France (which always lost), the U.S.S.R., Canada, and the United States had whittled down to a battle between America and Hitler.  Naturally, Quincy acted as general of every country's army.  At first, he found it difficult to keep Hitler's surprises from the Allied forces, but now it was getting easier for Quincy to keep secrets from himself.  "Yeah?" he answered.

"Whatcha doin?"

"World domination."

"Oh.  Who normally wins?"

Quincy stared at him and blinked.  "I do."

Teddy abruptly asked, "Quick.  What's your name?"


"Full name."

"Quincy Capers."


"Quincy Capers."

"One more time."

"Quincy Capers."

"Good.  Quincy Berkley is dead.  You're a brand new kid.  And your first act as Quincy Capers is to get me some SoCo from the shelf above the oven.  Can you reach it?"  Quincy ran over and showed that he could.  "Marvelous.  Fill a tumbler with ice and bring it all here.  Your new Daddy's about to play some poker.  Maybe I can teach you a little something about world domination."

Quincy decided not to mention that he had a PokerStars balance of $214,632.  Instead he said, "Okay, Dad."

Teddy checked his balance: $40.31.  While Quincy hung on the arm of the recliner, Teddy took a sip of caramel liquid, said, "You mix a mean drink," and fired up a single table of $100NL.

"Uh," began Quincy.


"You play one table?"

"--As opposed to what?  Just sit back and watch me work.  Poker is complicated."

New to the table, Teddy posted his blind from middle position and was dealt two red kings.  The player under the gun raised to $3.  Another player to Teddy's right called.  Teddy explained, "Here is where we slowplay.  It's an advanced move."  He called--Quincy began to squirm--as did three others.

Six players headed to the flop of the ace of clubs, queen of diamonds, and six of hearts.

The player under the gun bet half of the pot.  The player to Teddy's right raised.  When Teddy shoved all in, Quincy fell off the chair's arm.

Seconds passed. Then from the floor Quincy heard Teddy exclaim, "Are you kidding me?  What a suckout.  Ripoff.  Second best hand in poker loses to ace queen suited.  Ace queen is a fold every time.  You can't make advanced plays against idiots."  He took a single gulp of his drink, leaving nothing but ice.

"Refill, bartender.  And get my wallet from the nightstand next to my bed.  Hijack just woke the dragon."

Monday, February 4, 2013

Thirteen--Quincy Meets a Nice Girl

Finishing a three-hour session at the Venetian, Quincy headed to the elevators to return to his room for a quick nap and some mac and cheese.  The elevator door opened and he pressed his floor.  Just before the door shut, a woman hurried inside.

She was wearing a black leather miniskirt and a white tube top.  Quincy noticed that she didn't push a button for her floor.

As the elevator slid shut, she turned to him and said, "You did pretty good at that table."

Quincy shrugged.

She blinked, and Quincy saw white eye shadow that sparkled.  "You must've left with over twenty thousand," she continued.

"I showed up with fifty thousand."

"Oh.  What do you plan to do with the twenty you have left?"

"Prolly lose it," he said.  "Or save it for another Masarati."

She tapped a silver hoop on her wrist with a fingernail.  "There are better things you could do with twenty thousand than lose it at a poker table."

He stared at her in amazement.  "Like what?"

Now it was her turn to stare in amazement.  "How old are you?"

He shrugged again.

She asked, "What's your room number?"


"1614."  She shifted her balance from one foot to the other.  "If I came along with you, what would we do?"

"Prolly GTA."

Her eyes widened.  "GTA.  What's that code for?"

"Just a game."

She raised an eyebrow.  "I don't do any rough stuff."

After some careful consideration, Quincy replied,  "GTA isn't for you then."

"Try me."

"We could bet on it."

"Bet on it?  How?"

"We could play.  You and me.  Winner takes a thousand."

"How do we know who the winner is?"

Quincy shook his head, baffled.  "The winner is alive and the loser is dead.  Duh."

Her eyes became saucers.  "What kind of sicko are you, kid?"

Quincy realized that she might be a simpleton.  He decided to simplify.  "It's a game.  A video game.  You shoot people and run them down.  You can even steal a tank and kill cops.  It's the best invention ever."

"Oh."  Now she laughed.  "All right then.  I'm in."  She stepped next to him, ran her finger down his arm.  "But I don't have a thousand," she purred.  "If I lose, will you take it out in trade?"

Quincy looked at her.  Aside from high heels, a miniskirt, tube top, and some costume jewelry, she had nothing on her.  No purse.

"Okay, but what do you have to trade?"

A tone sounded, and the door opened.  Quincy stepped out.  He turned, and she was still in the elevator.  Scowling.

"I could take any baseball cards you have," he began--but the door shut, and the elevator carried her away.

Twelve--Losing Streak

The losing had come to be too much.  No matter the game he played--NL, limit, PLO, seven stud hi-lo, badugi--he walked away a loser.  Online or live, he felt doomed.  He felt himself spiraling, the losses inevitable, the river suckout card an inevitability.

He logged onto Pokerstars.  His balance read $66,412.

He logged onto Full Tilt Poker.  His balance read $115,097.

He checked Absolute. $46,041.

His Wells Fargo checking account, which had been inflated this month due to his withdrawal from Victory Poker, held $182,050.86.

Quincy had to accept his reality.  He was sixteen years old and completely broke.


So this is how it felt to hit rock bottom.

A bowl of congealed, rubbery mac and cheese in his lap, a few noodles having overflowed onto his silk pajamas, a muted South Park marathon on his 3D flat screen, Bloodhound Gang blaring from his living room, he wept.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Eleven--Quincy's First WSOP Attempt

Cashiers at Binion’s casino were signing up long rows of poker players unfortunate enough to lack an online sponsor to the World Series Main Event.  Baseball hats competed with sunglasses, which fought for space with toothpicks, bad breath, leather jackets, an occasional cowboy hat, blackberries, leather pants, the body odor of a World Wrestling Federation locker room, gold medallions, hairstyles like doughnuts with too much glaze, and—in the case of one long-time 24-year-old viewer of High Stakes Poker—all of these.  Apparently, these fellows were prepared to be read-less for Binion’s indifferent staff.  At one of the cages, a stunned young cashier was regarding a fellow far too young to be found anywhere in the building but the video game arcade on the casino’s north end.  Immediately she requested identification.  The young man slid a plastic card across to her on top of a brick of hundreds.  She squinted at his ID with one eye.

“Ernest Timothy Baumgardner-Blackwell-Smith,” she read.


She coolly regarded him above the glasses perched on her nose.

“If you’re over 21, I’m an African princess, and my name is Princess Marvelous Shaneequa.”

“Cool.  I own an island, Marvelous.”

“The last time you grew a whisker on that face was never.”

"I decided to name it the Death Star."


"My island."

"If nothing else, you got a story on you."

“If I pay an extra five thousand, can I get a seat next to the window?”

“Young man, this is a casino.  There are no windows.  Look, you’re cute, so I’m going to be nice.  Do you know that if you cash in this event with a fake ID, you could end up in federal prison?  And if you don’t cash in this event with a fake ID, you could end up in state prison?”

A large man in a security guard’s uniform suddenly loomed next to Ernest Timothy Baumgardner-Blackwell-Smith.  He leaned into the window.

“Problem here, Landa?”

“Oh no,” she said, laughing.  “This boy was just trying to change some quarters.”

The guard looked at Landa, the brick of hundreds, and the boy, and then walked away.

Ten--Quincy's First Report Card

Quincy received his report card in a sealed envelope—which he promptly ripped open, read, and resealed in another envelope—at the end of his kindergarten year.  It looked like this:

Quincy Berkley                                   Ingoll’s Training Academy
Age 5
Kindergarten                                       Where Children Come to Shine!

Singing: J J J

Comments: Quincy only sings about half of the songs, but he appears to truly enjoy “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” and “Twenty Bottles of Milk on the Wall.”  Sometimes he simply screams.  He asked me once, “What is the difference between screaming and singing?”  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I still don’t.

Coloring within the Lines: J J

Comments: Quincy only seems to use the colors red and black.  He holds the red crayon in one fist and the black crayon in the other fist and he makes clockwise and counterclockwise circles until the paper rips.  Then he colors his desk.

Sharing: J J J J J J J J J J J J

Comments: Quincy is a true networker.  He enjoys walking around the room exchanging his own toys for the toys of others.  He has so many toys, and so his generosity is particularly rewarding to the class.  Whenever something goes missing, we can be sure that it has been somehow misplaced in Quincy’s desk.

Napping Like Giants: J J J J

Comments: Quincy goes right to sleep on cue, and he sleeps for the entire class period.  He has learned this lesson so well that he has been observed practicing his sleeping in other classes.

Learning Our Alphabet: J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J

Comments: It appears that Quincy arrived at our school with the ability to read.  You provided excellent preparation of Quincy for the rigors of kindergarten at Ingoll’s!

Milk and Cookies: J J J

Comments: Quincy will only drink chocolate milk.  He furthermore demands that any cookie he eats be nuked for five seconds.  At first, we did not acquiesce to his demands.  (We had no microwave.)  But then the screaming began.  When we told him to stop, he told us that the song wasn’t over.  Now all of the children demand chocolate milk and nuked cookies, and if we do not comply, the screaming commences en masse.  Imagine, if you will, 22 5-year-olds, mouths open, tonsils exposed, hollering till purple.  Ha ha.  Ha.  We needed a microwave anyway.

OVERALL: Quincy is an excellent young child whom we firmly believe will transform into a generous, kind, intelligent young adult.  No real obstacle stands in the way from allowing Quincy to achieve whatever goals he sets for himself!

EXPECTED FUTURE OCCUPATIONS: CEO, Stock Analyst, Sleep-Study Participant, Dictator of Resource-Poor Nation, Unemployed