Blogger Fantasy Assignment
"Hey, that's my name!" The Boy shrieked as he jabbed his finger at the computer screen. "Daddy, you have my name!"
"Yes I do, AJ. Yes. I. Do."
"You're gonna call his all-in with that?" the dear and patient wife worried.
"It's AJ! And it's s000000ted! It's gold," I countered confidently as I clicked the button.
We were down to two, with one WSOP seat up for grabs. I had a 3-1 chip advantage, one I'd amassed thanks to an unbelievable run of cards. For much of the evening, I only needed a raise button. Bloggers kept running their monsters into my bigger monsters, grumbling about a fix. So rigged.
My last remaining foe was tournament stud The Poker Geek. I was glad to have him heads up. I knew he was strong. I also knew that nobody gets brutally sucked out more often than Chris. The Schleprock of the Blogger Community.
"Nice call!" chimed SirWaffleHouse from the rail.
Chris flipped his pocket rockets and saw the flop.
"Hey, that's not my name...JJJ," protested The Boy.
I awoke the morning of the WSOP Event with a mouth full of poo--figuratively sepaking--and a stomach bubbling with nervous bile. I'd pulled into my JUNIOR SUITE AT THE PLAZA, the night before intending to rest up before my crack at glory and riches. The assembled mob of bloggers would have none of that. I smelled like I'd showered in cheap whiskey and cheaper cigars. Should make for a good table image.
After a couple hours, cobwebs had started to form on my chips. I was scared. I was shaking like Katherine Hepburn hopped up on a eight-ball. I was surrounded by pros, aggressive amatuers and immediately to my left, The Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth.
Finally, a hand to play. I looked down UTG and found The Hammer. The volume of the racuous blogger railbirds amplified in my ears. I channelled them. And gave them the sign we had agreed on the previous evening, a slight movement denoting I'd been dealt The Hammer. I slyly jammed my right index finger into my left nostril, leaving it there for two beats. The assembled blogosphere immediately fell reverentially silent.
I placed my card protector--a miniature figurine of former Liverpool star Steve McManaman--over my precious hand. And floated out a raise.
Hellmuth gave a chuckle that sounded like an indictment. Faster than you can say "man boobs," he pushed his chips into the middle. The table quickly folded around. My heart seized in my chest, breath coming in shallow bursts. I pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes, setting off fireworks behind my lids. So much running around in my head, a thick fog of conflicting allegiances. Suddenly, a voice from nowhere cut through, clear, precise and full of peace:
"Be The Hammer."
It was Grubby. Patron Saint of The Hammer. I aceeded to his wishes.
Hellmuth fairly yelped and flipped over his aces. When he saw my hand, he started in. His diatribe was blue. It was endless. It was hilarious. Imbued with the calming spirit of The Hammer, I couldn't stop laughing.
The flop came AK5, giving him the set. "See?!?!?!" he berated. "You internet players have no idea how to play this game!"
The turn was a 3.
"I believe I have four outs, Mr. Hellmuth," I said, cloaked in inevitability. "Is that correct?"
The color in his face rose. "I swear...Unbelievable...I will rip off your head and..."
The River--Captial 'R'--stopped him cold. Four.
I braced myself for the verbal assault. A blogger-orchestrated roar rang off the walls of the Rio Hotel and Casino. I tucked my head as deeply as humanly possible between my shoulder blades, even as I rejoiced in their collective cheers.
And still I waited for the explosion that must come.
It came not in the form of frustrated words, but in the guise of a fleshy arm forcefully wrapped around my head, a soft, girly punch to my kidneys.
Phil Hellmuth was beating me up!
I toppled from my chair grasping at the table for purchase. I succeeded only in wrapping my fingers around my card protector, Little Stevie "Macca" McManaman. I couldn't see a thing, only feeling the full weight of Hellmuth on me, peppering me with mosquito blows, screaming in an otherworldly voice.
I fleetingly wondered if ESPN was getting this on tape. I faintly heard laughter and surprise from the assembled masses.
Finally, I reacted. Wielding Macca by his plastic base, I jammed him upward into Hellmuth's throat. His arms fell away, hands moving to the puncture, his screams degenerating into gurgles. Bubbles of blood ran from the wound. I was pulled away by rough hands, The Brat disappearing in an avalanche of security. As his face was pulled from view, I managed to lock eyes with him one last time.
"Do not fuck with The Hammer," I mouthed.
I did not win--or even cash in--the tournament. I did not go to jail. I did not kill Phil Hellmuth, the blow missing his jugular by mere inches. It did, however, crush his voice box. Beyond repair.
Nobody has literally heard from The Poker Brat since. Which is just as well.