Fold 'em

Funny story written by Denny Johnson

Wednesday, 14 January 2004

Hey, how ya’ doing? Ever play poker with a fool? I think I can get you a game with George Bush.

There’s a reason why this President has NUMBSKULL embroidered over the pocket of his Cowboy shirt – any tinhorn knows you don’t show your cards until everybody has anted-up.

That would be the younger Bush, little George, surely the dumber of the Dumb & Dumber Presidents.

That phony Texas oil-riggn’, wild-cattn’, election-riggn’ carpetbagger who’s plenty quick on the draw, and not too quick on the uptake. I played poker with him lots of times. He thinks he’s a cowboy, wears the hat, the boots, chaps, the whole gig, except for they won’t let him carry a gun. His father, the older dumb one, thinks they’re both cowboys. He could be right, big-loser cowboys is what built the backbone of this nation, saloons, casinos and the railroad. Figure it out for yourself. The Bushes sure play poker like cowboys.

To begin with real cowboys was folks who didn’t have no home or schooln’ and roamed the range until they found a job telling livestock what to do, and where to go. Most of the cowboys was young guys left over from the civil war. Some were carefree, on a lark to the “Wild West,” but most was displaced war weary-veterans who had looked into the barrel of the gun and lived to tell about it.

They was usually hired by rich landowners called Ranchers, who controlled hundreds of thousands of acres of land and had so many “steers” they had to hire men to look after ‘em, so they reluctantly paid these “cow-boys” to brand the cattle and then keep a close eye on them to make sure that no other bad hombres ran off with the goods.

Now cowboys was nothing if not dispensable, and not even a little well-liked by the Rancher who had to pay them, feed them, bunk them, and drag them out of jail every Saturday night after they tore up the Saloon and the whore house. The local folks weren’t much pleased with all their shenanigans when they came to town either. And hardly a weekend went by when some farmer or local shop-keeper wasn’t pulling several cowboy offn’ their eldest daughter, or sometimes even their wife or both, and shooting the dang range-rover as a re-ward.

Plenty of the cowboys ended up shot dead in their tracks for these type of local infractions, but there was plenty more where they came from – Kennebunkport.

Even so just for the sake of quiet, the Rancher tried to keep the cowboy on the ranch as much as he could, and the cowboy ended up in the bunkhouse pretty much every evening after grub playing cards with the others. Sometimes it was Pinochle, and sometimes they split-off and played Canasta.

Other times they’d play Gin, and if they had enough cards, they might even get into a game of Euchre. So, what you had there was a pretty big mix of boys -- country boys for the most part – who didn’t know much about cards or anything else for that matter, but would wile their nights away anyway gambling and talking big, and rough, while they learned the ways of the world from others just like them. The one game they could all pretty-much understand was five-card Stud Poker. So they played that a lot, and knifed and shot each other a lot as the result.

The in-bred mentality of the cowboy was one of the things that made them good at watching cows, but the Rancher couldn’t keep the wrangler there at the ranch forever, and every two weeks or so when pay-day come around them silly boys were on their way to town to blow their wad, playing cards with genuine gamblers and card-sharks and fellows with mustaches all the way to here who made their living offn’ beating cowboys at the card table, and storing an extra “Ace” or two up their sleeve.

Now, even though the townsfolk mostly kept an upped nose to them, a lot of that there town relied on the cowboy tourist business too. Just like destination points today the restaurants, hotels, general store, dentists, doctor, undertakers, casinos, and hookers were all warmed-up and ready to lighten the cowboys’ saddlebags. They were what they call in the business today, the “sucker trade.” Like the hayseed in Las Vegas or Atlantic City – they was the mark.

So when a cowboy, like this here little George or his Pap would come and sit at the table with his pockets flush with payday cash, the management was damn glad to see him, and went directly about relieving him of that loot and anything else they could squeeze out of them. And the cowboy was always accommodating.

It inevitably got around to gambling, after the steak, whiskey, and the women, if there was still any money left, that was the most macho part of a cowboy, the fact he was ready to risk it all on the face of a card. It’s what put the “wild” in wildcatter. But not too many cowboys were any better at poker than little George or his Pappy.

Most of them came to the table, blew their diminutive tin-horns, played their cards, and lost. One in a hundred won a game and got a stake in the oil-rich West. They drilled some oil wells and got rich. Some of them even went so far as to buy that damn Ranch and run it themselves, and hire other cowboys to watch their interest. This is how little George and his Pap went to work – and kept on working.

But that didn’t happen too many times and most cowboys died poor with their boots on and not a quart of Pennzoil to their name, some with their pants down, most ended up on Boot Hill.

It was better for little George and his pap. Neither one of them was very first-rate at drilling oil wells either or working too hard about it what's more. What they was good at was talking about it, and they talked a pretty high-quality card match too but they never won a dime at poker as far as I know. They had what you call in the game, a “tell,” and it was pretty easy to out guess ‘em. They was always too early to show their hand, especially when they thought they had a good one.

Why sometimes the Pap, he would have a smile so big on his face when he thought he had a winner, why, you could see the cards reflecting right there in his white teeth, and of course everybody knew what his hand was then. And they outplayed him, pure and simple. The boy, little George had the same problem, except as I have already told you, he was the dumbest of the otherwise matched pair and usually forgot what game they were playing by the time the deal came around the table to him again. He was almost shot two times trying to play 7-card Fish.

I can’t tell you the times I saw his Pappy cuff him upside his Stetson for blowing the game and showing his cards -- one time little George claimed victory way before everybody even had their five cards dealt – and he was dealing! In the orchestra of tin-horn gamblers, this guy had the Tuba chair.

The one thing you could be sure about the two was they were too dumb to fold, so you could always milk them for all they had before you beat ‘em … they was losers pure and simple.

I can only hope that this little George plays War better than him and his Pap plays Poker, otherwise it looks like we might be in for a very, very, long game.

The funny story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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