The Gambler

by Jimmy McDermott, Contributor

I knew the odds
Before I sat down at the table.
For years I watched on the sidelines – afraid to take the risk,
As those around me anted up.
Some took the pot, others burned out…
One took his addiction elsewhere:
Falling back on old habits, hoping one day he’d win it big

I’d played a hand or two before, but that was years ago.
And that game was small-time.
Just a bunch of kids really…they never played for stakes like these.

So the day I laid down my chips at this table…
I don’t know what I expected.
A few others were already seated, and one in particular
Appeared to be cleaning house

I played it soft and slow at first
Feeling out the table, the cards being dealt, sizing up my opponents
I could’ve walked at any time and moved on to more promising tables
But this was the Pot I wanted most in the world

Then the favorite lost the lead.
He got cocky – lost his head – poor judgment,
And I made my move.
Aggressive yet steady
I held my ground.
Soon the table favored me and the amateurs left the game.
Surely, I thought, The Pot is mine.
I grew comfortable and confident,
But as the old timers say, Never count your chips at the table.

One opponent remained and wanted to redeem himself.
To take back the Pot he had lost thanks to his carelessness.
It happened gradually
I almost ignored it
He played like a pro, but I refused to give up my spot.

My luck had gone cold and I ordered drink after drink,
Nearly on tilt as he took hand after hand,
I was losing my hope.

I guess…he just had better cards.
And all the anger
And depression
And drunken nights
Can’t change the cards I’m dealt.

Even though he runs the table now,
I just can’t bring myself to walk away yet.
Eventually, I suppose, I’ll move on…Half-heartedly…
Throwing down chips at other tables.
Maybe I’ll even win a small game or two.

But this was my first big Pot.
And I’m sure I’ll always come back from time-to-time,
When I’m feeling restless,
To play a few hands,
And see if I can get back in the game.

In the end though, there were lessons to be learned.
Lady Luck is a bitch;
Don’t get mad at the Dealer; and
Love is a cruel game.


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LANDFILLS is a grassroots literary, arts and culture online collective based in Chicago. All work is original, except the featured images that accompany text posts (which are blatantly stolen from Complaints should be directed to Po via Twitter.
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