Longform

Hello, Mr. Chips

Page 6 of 6

Byrne grabs a microphone to call the game, and play begins.
For a while, Holden keeps pace with Chan. There are no dramatic showdowns, and the chips swing back and forth. Those who have studied Chan's style of play, however, know that Chan is putting his opponent to the test--deciding what makes Holden fold, check, call or raise. Silently collecting this information for an upcoming showdown.

"The last time he was here," whispers a spectator, "Johnny tricked the guy into going all-in when he was holding a pair of pocket [face down] aces. It was all over in a second."

Chan draws a pair of pocket aces this time, too, and raises viciously.
Holden, sensing a trap, folds before the showdown, but not before losing a large pot.

The balance of chips, and the probability of victory, shifts to Chan. As a new hand is dealt, an employee of the casino approaches the table to give Chan the soccer score.

"I saw it," he says, loud enough for his audience to hear.
There's a television set broadcasting the soccer game on a far wall. Chan, so confident in his eventual victory, is practically ignoring his opponent and the cards dealt to him. His arrogance surely must have an effect on Holden's play as well.

More cards come out, and Holden's chip stack erodes further. It seems Holden wins only the small pots, and Chan takes the large ones.

The next hand is pivotal:
Both players raise and re-raise until a large mound of chips sits impressively in the center of the table. If Chan wins, his victory today is almost assured. If Holden takes it, he's back in the game.

The players go into a showdown, and Holden turns over his hand--a king-high.
Witnesses are positive Chan has him beat. And he does--practically any decent hand could take the pot. But when Chan turns over just an ace-high, the crowd gasps.

"Now, if you can figure out how Chan knew that he had a king, and only a king," says an onlooker, "then you'll have a story to write."

Holden's remaining chips are quickly drained away. Chan wins--again. It took about 25 minutes.

The players shake hands once more, a flash from a camera, and Chan steps aside. As he walks away, a fan asks Chan if his opponent had any tells. Chan, knowing neither modesty nor restraint, and never leaving sugar anywhere near the table, nods his head.

"He had tells," Chan says. "He had tells from here to Las Vegas."

Contact James Hibberd at his online address: [email protected]

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James Hibberd
Contact: James Hibberd