The silence was broken by the sound of ice rattling in Jim's rocks glass of bourbon. He swished the drink around before he took a sip and continued to stare at Casey.
The cigar smoke hung above the men's heads while they contemplated the cards.
Five card stud. Usually an uneventful game for the group of friends. But not tonight. Tonight Casey had joined them.
Jim liked Casey, probably a bit more than the other guys did. Jim understood him, after all. Having a son with a learning disability, he was just a bit more forgiving.
As Casey stared at his cards, the guys shifted in their seats. With a pot over seventy five dollars on the table, no one wanted to breathe hard. Most of the time, there was less than fifteen riding on any one hand.
Casey reached for a ten dollar chip, threw it on the table. "I raise you five."
"Are you sure, Casey. You sure you don't want to fold?"
"I raise," Casey repeated.
Around the table, each man made a decision. Fold, call, fold. The two men that folded their hands got up from their seats and reached for the liquor bottle on the granite counter. As they looked over Casey's shoulder, they tried hard not to smile. A pair of threes. All that money was riding on a pair of threes. They poured shots of the bourbon and clinked their glasses before they downed the drinks.
By the time the game got back around to Jim, he needed to put in ten bucks to keep the pot right. He looked at his hand, looked up at Casey, than back to his cards. A full house, Kings over nines.
But he knew what he had to do.
The click of the cards hitting the table was the sound that made Casey look up from fingering his last poker chip.
Casey laid his pair of threes on the table face up.
The last player held his cards, looking at Casey's exposed hand.
With a grunt, he shoved his chair away from the table.
Flipping his hand face up to reveal a do-nothing hand with an Ace high, he muttered as he reached for a new cigar and struck a match.
Jim said, "You did it, Casey. You won with a pair of threes!"
"I thought sure you had nothin'," the last man out called as he dragged on the cigar. "You didn't even finish high school, now you're takin' my money."
A smile crossed Casey's face as he reached for the pot. "I don't need no diploma to read your face."
"Funny, Casey, funny. Lemme cash you out. Grab your jacket, I'll take you home."
"I'll be back in a few minutes, no one water down my bourbon while I'm gone."
One of the men called back, "Just don't bring back any more high-rollin' dropouts."
Even Casey laughed as he fingered the cash in his pocket.
"Even dropouts can bring something to the table, huh, Uncle Jim? Even dropouts win every now and then."
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