The Stars Came Back -020- Card Game

Fade in

INT – night – card table in a discreetly lit, respectable-looking entertainment establishment

Helton sits at a table with seven others. All are nicely dressed, somewhat steam-punkish general style, and there are a lot of chips on the table. Helton has the smallest pile, but it’s substantial. He eyes his cards, and the lone 10 of spades in the center of the table, and tosses in a pair of chips. The next person folds silently, and the next puts in two to meet, and raises by three chips of a different kind. There are murmurs from the handful of onlookers around them.

Dissolve to

Helton sits with five others at the table, his pile of chips is about average compared to the others at the table. He Pushes in a stack of 10 brightly colored chips next to the 3 of diamonds, adding to the pile already there, to many surprised exclamations by the onlookers, and the next guy slams down his card in disgust. The next guy around the table only has 10 chips of the same kind left. He nervously eyes the pot, his hand, his chips again, swallows, and pushes his stack in. The next guy folds. There are more onlookers.

Dissolve to

Helton sits at a table with two guys left. There is a huge pot, and most of the remaining chips not in the pot are in front of Helton. The center card is a 9 of clubs. He carefully looks over the other two players stacks, and pushes in more than one of them has, to just match the other remaining player’s stack. The guy to his right trembles, realizing he’s forced out, not having enough chips. The guy to his left grimly pushes in his remaining chips. The largish crowd of onlookers exclaim and murmur.

Trembler: No. NO. You CAN’T force me out like this. You CAN’T!

Grim guy: Shut UP. You know the rules.

Trembler: You CAN’T!

Helton: If you can’t match, you’re out.

Trembler looks around at the other two players and the crowd desperately, looking for a way out of his bind, looking like he’d like to beg, but know it’s no use by itself.

Trembler: But… but… how, how-about-my-ship?

Helton and Grim guy both eye him. The surrounding crowd hushes to hear what happens next.

Helton: (flatly) Your ship.

Trembler: (starting scared, then getting more convinced) Yes. YES. I have a starship at the port over in Adelaide. I – I’ll put the title in the pot to match you. It’s worth far more than that, and-

He cuts himself off, as if fearing he’ll scare them into saying no.

Grim and Helton look at each other. Then at Trembler. At the pot. At each other.

Trembler: Hey, it’s not THAT unheard of – some famous ships have been won in card games!

Grim: Title?

Trembler pats his vest pocket. The crowd inhales in surprise.

Helton: Verify it before accepting?

Trembler gets out a slim packet of fancy paper with a credit-card sized hunk of plastic bonded into one corner. The dealer brings out a hand-held scanner unit. He scans Trembler’s face, and hand, then the title, scanning close to the corner smart-card. The unit beeps,

Inset: scan-unit reads “100 percent ownership of the twelve thousand ton starship Tajemnica verified.”

The dealer nods to the other players, indicating it’s his to bet.

Dealer: Are you pledging this ship as collateral for the bet on the table for this hand, of your own free will, and will transfer ownership to the winner, effective immediately, if you do not win fairly?

Trembler: (faintly) I do.

Dealer: Do both of you accept this asset title as a matching bet, going to the winner of this hand?

Helton: (Nodding) Yup.

Grim: (motionless) I… Yes.

The dealer nods places the title on top of the pot on the table.

Dealer: It’s a contract. All bets matched and called.

More crowd exclamations.

They all stare at each other.

Dealer: Show you cards now, please, gentlemen.

Trembler puts down his four cards. It’s a full house, using the center 9 to match his 9 of hearts, and a trio of fours. The crowd gasps and exclaims.

Grim smiles. He puts down his cards. ALSO a full house. The center 9 matches his 9 of spades, and he has a trio of jacks! Trembler starts to shake violently, sweat breaks out of his brow, but he doesn’t say a word, as everyone now stares at Helton.

Helton holds his hand silently for a moment. Looking at the pot. Then, ever so slowly, he puts them down, one at a time. 2 of spades. 2 of hearts. 2 of clubs… 2 of diamonds. The crowd explodes realizing that he won, beating TWO full houses. Grim just gets grimmer, and Trembler seems to faint dead away. The Dealer pushes the pile of chips towards Helton, who sits motionlessly, staring at the chips, with a growing smile.

Fade to black

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14 thoughts on “The Stars Came Back -020- Card Game

  1. Pingback: The Stars Came Back -019- Recovery | The View From North Central Idaho

  2. I reeeeally need to brush up on my poker hands. I figger’d Helton would win spectacularly, or lose spectacularly (depending on where you wanted the story to go), but I have no idea whether it was by a landslide or a mousefart. But the karmic balance has tipped in your favor with the Star Wars easter egg! Awesome!

    • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_poker_hands
      Short form: A full house is a VERY strong hand; it’s the sort of hand you’d be willing bet a star-ship on. The only things that beat it are a straight flush or four of a kind (both of which are very rare).
      I figured MOST sci-fi geeks would get the Star Wars ref, and was hoping a few would get the “four twos” Hitchhikers ref.
      Don’t expect most folks to get the remaining refs.

      • On a real poker table with pretty high stakes, I once beat a full house with four 2s. Really pissed the guy off I was playing against since he thought I didn’t know how to play because I kept asking if I could raise. (No one at the table thought I knew what I was doing and they were all yelling at me.)

        .

  3. Pingback: The Stars Came Back -021- Seeing Tajemnica | The View From North Central Idaho

  4. I take it that you don’t play poker or you only play in house games. This scenario isn’t plausible to anyone who knows the rules. I can’t think of a single type of poker that has a single shared card. A person is never allowed to put in more than the other players in a pot. If someone runs out of money, a side pot is started for those who still have money.

    • No, I don’t play much poker. My older brother was one of those guys who just ALWAYS seemed to win. I quickly learned that it was a losing proposition; his friends were slow learners, but eventually pretty much everyone we knew figured out that playing with him was tantamount to giving him your money.
      I distinctly remember playing a game as a kid with a single center shared card, each person was dealt four, could get replacements for up to three of them; but that was LONG time ago, in a state far away, and I have no clue if it was a “house” game or an official one.
      If it really bugs people, of course, the details of the scene can be changed to reflect more “normal” game / hands. The key details are that he’s done VERY well and collected a mountain of chips, and in the final part everyone has a very strong hand, and is thus willing to go all in, including risking a star-ship, because of their confidence in winning.If you want to suggest a quick scenario mod, I’d be happy to consider it.

      • I would just keep writing and go back and fix things after you finish this first draft — but this scene needs to be reworked.

        • BTW – this is EXACTLY the type of feedback I’m looking for. I know I don’t know everything, and hate it when a movie does something so totally wrong with something that I DO know that it blows a hole in my suspension of disbelief, so I’d like to avoid that for others if I can. So, thanks for the input, and any further suggestions on a basic poker scenario that would lead to my above-stated goals. And thanks for reading – and hopefully mostly enjoying it.

    • Keep in mind this takes place in the future. There can be future card games that don’t match the rules of any existing game.

      • Yeah, I thought of that. But this so closely tracks table poker that it’s crazy to think that anyone is going to think it’s another card game.

        • I suppose, then, the real question is “are the rules clearly enough implied in the visible action to follow and understand, and be more or less believable as a house-rules game?” If so, then I don’t really HAVE to change anything, unless it somehow causes a massive space-time disruption somewhere/somehow.
          Five card draw, seven card stud, and Texas hold’em are all “poker.” So….. I’ll think about it, and if I see an obvious way presented to cover the “he wins big” and “ship gets drawn into the pot” using conventional poker rules, I’d happily consider it. If it would take several stretches of “normal” rules to get there, then a “house game” is the easy way. The winning hands won’t change much, because the statistics don’t change much.

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