Sympathy for a Gambler

Morty always looks carelessly well dressed. You can tell that he has a lot of pride in the way he looks. The effort that he puts into making sure that his hair is disheveled just right so that it forms a naturally combed back spikey look is the first clue that there might be more than meets the eye. His jewelry dangles just far enough to be partially visible underneath his shirt. He flaunts his career as if this is something that will get him special treatment. Passing out his business card like it is a special key that will grant him access to VIP treatment.

A closer look will reveal that the clothes he wears are worn out like a uniform. The lines on his face betray his age. You can see the faint trace of makeup left behind from years of use. His hair has a hint of truth in its dead color. His friendly eyes look tired. He is a man who wishes to be left alone to his vices so he can enjoy them in peace.

On occasion Morty would come to the poker room. He would usually be watching from the rail as if he was hesitant to join a game. If a seat was available, he would sit down and play. When he did play, he would always buy in for the maximum. He wasn’t a great player by any means, but he was comfortable playing a deep stack. He would make other players drool uncomfortably at the amount of money that would be up for grabs. Everyone knew that if they could play a hand against him, if they made the winning hand they would get paid off.   

The night Morty came to play, something was different. He looks like he just wants to relax and forget about the world. He asks me if I would exchange foreign cheques for him. Unfortunately, I cannot. He shows me a bunch of yellow birds and a few flags discreetly tucked away in a small pouch that he puts back in his pocket. I inform him that if he wishes to have them exchanged, he will have to go to the main cage where they would be able to assist him further. He then proceeds to pull out some cash. First, he buys a few hundred dollars in player’s cheques. He begins to drink away his woes. As Morty becomes intoxicated he becomes entertaining. Shouts come from his table as players abandon any strategy they had and gamble. He wasn’t playing poker. Instead, he offered a simple unspoken proposition to the players, a flip for stacks. As the money gets distributed around the table the stacks begin to grow. Morty just keeps pushing the limit until finally he gets up and walks away. It looks like he is not coming back.

As one of the regular players stand at the podium talking to me about how crazy things had gotten. Morty returns… he had acquired more funds. He sits down and pulls out a wad of one-hundred-dollar bills. The game is afoot. Morty looks like he has a mission to accomplish. Soon everyone at the table has monster stacks, including Morty. The night goes on until the game ends. Players rack up their chips and go to the main cage to cash out. Morty appears to have a significant amount. From a distance I can tell he has about two or three thousand dollars in player cheques.

As I finish my paperwork and prepare to leave, the phone rings.

“Hello.” I say into the phone.

“Yes, Hello? Can I talk to Bizzy?” the voice on the other end says.

“This is Bizzy.”

“Bizzy, this is Nancy from the main cage. We have a player here who has a substantial amount of player’s cheques. Can you verify the amount?” she asks.

“Ummm, well I didn’t count it, but it looked like it was about twenty-five hundred.”

Nancy pauses before she speaks, “Do you know who he is? The player is refusing to provide us with ID.”

“Yes, I have his info.” I say as I pull up his casino rewards number.

I can hear Nancy typing in the background. Followed by a muffled, “Ya, that is him. Excuse me sir, is your name Morty?”

Nancy thanks me and the phone call ends. After I finish my paperwork, I go to drop off my keys and as I pass the main cage, I can see that Morty is still at the main cage. He looks agitated. His night has been ruined. He is no longer the happy gambler that was in the poker room a little while ago. Morty has refused to identify himself. He informs the cage that he will just go to a pit game to color up but is told that this will not work. He will still be asked to identify himself. As he begins to lose control of the situation, realizing that the casino is not giving him any kind of VIP treatment, he asks to speak with the manager. The cage calls the casino manager, it is late at night and there isn’t a lot to do. As I walk by the pit games on my way to clock out, I can see the casino manager in a heated conversation with Morty. Morty’s arms go up into the air expressing his frustration and the casino manager responds with the same gesture. Almost as if he is trying to make himself appear bigger than Morty.

The next afternoon I wake up to a text letting me know that Morty had been eighty-sixed…

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