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His ear was itching badly, but he resisted the urge to scratch it and instead focused on the cards in his hand. He wasn’t an amateur, he told himself. He could control his tells. He wouldn’t scratch. He looked up at the other players. These were big names. He was lucky to even get a chair here, and he had to make the most of it, watch them carefully. They weren’t giving away anything, though. He could have been sitting opposite three statues for all he could get out of them.

“I’m in,” he said, flipping a chip onto the pile.

Wait. What was that? Did that guy just smile? It was just a twitch, but… damn, he did. He definitely did.

He sat back a little, taking a deep breath, hoping they didn’t pick up on it. Maybe the smile was on purpose. That must be it. They’re trying to draw out the new guy, force a mistake. He watched play go around a little while, trying to appear relaxed.

Showdown, Time to rake it in, he thought. He spread his cards out. “Two pair,” he said. It wasn’t great, but he was confident. The player next to him folded. So did the next. All that was left was the smiling guy.

The man smiled again and laid his cards out without a word.

Flush.

His ear was burning again. He swore quietly, scratched his ear and stood up. There were plenty more suckers standing by ready to pay the blinds and take the vacant seat. Let them lose the shirts off their backs.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Three Word Wednesday’s prompts this week are Focused, Pair and Vacant.)

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