Anderson and the Action

The first night I saw Anderson, he traipsed up to the roulette table where my three hundred bucks had whittled its way down to fifty over the course of a couple hours, and bet two large on black. When it came up red, he turned to me with a tired, raised brow, and said, "It was a fun weekend anyhow." I caught his name on his black Borgata card when the pit boss handed it back to him. He walked away at the same sluggish pace with which he'd approached, and I eyed him up and down – he looked perhaps seventy, his white hair perfectly combed in place from right to left, short on the sides above a clean shaven, pale face. He wore a tan blazer with subtle, sky blue checkered lines over a white collared shirt and a Rolex I imagined he'd purchased forty years prior on a trip to Haiti. I never expected to see him again.

Three weeks later I sat in an underground poker room at Angelo's place, a walk up apartment only accessible from an alleyway you didn't just happen to saunter along and find. My table was No Limit Hold 'em and Angelo didn't have any formal rules about buy in amounts, but these things usually worked themselves out okay. It was midnight and I was doing alright for me, up about a grand, when the only door to the place inched open and Anderson stepped into the room. He wore a different blazer, this one a dark green, and a white collared shirt that could've been the same one he'd worn when I saw him play one spin of roulette. He looked like he hadn't slept for a week. Angelo spoke with him briefly and directed him to the seat beside mine, where he settled in and placed twenty thousand on the table like it was a pack of cigarettes. The other five guys' eyes lit up, but I wasn't surprised – any guy who'd bet two thousand on a single spin of the roulette wheel, all of it on a color, wasn't likely to care or even notice that his starting stack was four times bigger than the next biggest where he sat down.

Three hours in, he was up to over twenty four k. He played an aggressive style, a little too aggressive for my taste, but it was clear that he had some skill and wasn't all bravado. The biggest pot of the night started out innocently enough: someone raised the ten / twenty blinds to a hundred, and Anderson and I both called.

After the flop, the pre-flop raiser bet a thousand. Anderson called. I had nothing and I imagined at least one of them had better than that, so I mucked.

After the turn card, this time the bettor put out two thousand. Anderson called without hesitation. The river card came and the bettor only had around two thousand left in his stack. He was a regular here named John something or other, and he called Angelo over to the table. "Ange, I only got two k here but you know I'm good for another three. I'd like to bet five thousand."

Angelo gave John a strong look and John held his gaze. When Angelo finally nodded his approval, John said to Anderson, "Well Whitey, you can guess the bet. Five thousand. Your move."

Anderson smiled. He seemed to be thinking things through. After a couple minutes he spoke up. "Mr. Angelo, sir, you've allowed this man to bet on a marker." Angelo nodded again. "I wonder if you'd let him go any deeper? Because I'd like to raise him another sixteen thousand."

The table froze. It wasn't just the amount of money, it was the fact he'd asked for permission to raise a bettor beyond an amount the bettor had to borrow just to make the bet.

"You that strong, chief?" John something or other asked Anderson.

Anderson stared him down with tired eyes. "Only one way to find out, son."

John looked up at Angelo. "How 'bout it, Ange? You float me another sixteen k?"

"That's a lotta do-re-mi, Johnny. Gonna need collateral."

Anderson sat in silence during the back and forth between his opponent and the room's proprietor. If not for his eyes being half open, I'd have thought he were asleep.

At last Angelo said he couldn't carry John any further on account of his only collateral being a beat up old Ford Ranger. At this point, having been denied his request to make a raise, Anderson had the choice of whether he wanted to call the five thousand.

The shock around the table was the most audible I'd ever seen it and have ever seen it since when Anderson mucked his cards. He turned to me and said, "It's just no fun for me when I can't raise the stakes." At that, he stood and pushed in his chair, cashed in his remaining chips, and left us all in wonderment as he walked out the door, back to wherever it was he went when he wasn't gambling.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Whoa! Now that's real gambler - the tension as I read! The story captivated me from beginning to end - well done Richard! ^_^

    1. I removed the other comment as you got my message ^_^

  3. Interesting story Richard. I think with most gamblers, it really has nothing to do with the winning itself. I work with a man that won an immense amount of money on a scratchcard of all things, plenty enough to fund a wealthy lifestyle, within three years it had all gone onto gambling in one way or another, and the man is still working at our place.

  4. Poker stories always make me smile, not because I'm against them -- I thought this one was very well rendered -- but because my brain has never been able to absorb poker, even though I play other card games. That's why I know this one was well rendered, because I was able to follow it without really understanding what was going on with the game.

    Anderson has this wonderful archtypical quality, this wandering, recurring character. I could see him easily fitting into a larger work, and yet retaining his enigmatic qualities.