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  • Writer's picturecatherine@allaboutwriters

Place your bets!

Our son is a shark.

The cards flip through his hands, smooth and sure, his eyes on the players at the table. Or sitting on the carpet, anyways. "Place your bets, people!", he calls, sneaking a look at his first card. He is teflon, while his players are somewhat stickier. He repeats his instructions with visible patience while they check with each other what they can and can't do.

His first player calls for a flip, first asking what the J means, then counting on her fingers to realise a Jack means bust. She fingers her chip, not too sure about passing it over, while he holds up play and waits. He's oozing patience.

Next play, a similar scene. At the dealer's turn, he reveals a twenty and calls, "Pay 21!" We all pass him our chips as he stacks the used cards underneath the deck and deals once again. His smile is broad, his mood pleasant and amicable. And so it goes on, almost uninterrupted, until the tables turn. Over the course of a couple of hands, our son is now on the back foot and his sister has a pontoon. The first sign of trouble is an argument over this fact, soon relented, but the red rag has been revealed. I know there is trouble brewing...

The next hand, there's a question over the dealing from his younger sister. Next, a dispute about what was bet, what is owed. And then...sure enough, he's off. He didn't want to buy, so he was going to flip on ten. She wasn't allowed to look at her first card, the whole game should be called off. It's not fair. Nobody should be expected to put up with this, nobody knows how to play and it's ruining his game.

Just then, the timer bleeps and a change comes over his face. Even in his agitated state, he can see a life line when it appears. "Oh well, guess we'll have to call is a day. Time for lunch." He collects chips, packs away the cards and leads his sisters into the garden. I consider the maths of the game, the chaos we may have averted...and decide we'll have another go tomorrow.

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