ONE LAST HAND

Ralph Levenson loved to play online poker, it was one of his favourite things to do. He had withdrawn over a thousand dollars from his online poker account so he knew he was playing on a legitimate bonafide site.

Sarah Levenson, however, did not share her husband’s excitement about using the internet to gamble and she was worried he was becoming addicted. When Ralph withdrew what he called his ‘’found money’’ Sarah made him take her out to a new Steak house for a delicious dinner. It was not an inexpensive experience and when Ralph complained about the high cost, Sarah responded ‘’Found money, easy come, easy go.’’ She then made Ralph promise he would stop playing online poker for at least three months just to prove he could. Ralph reluctantly agreed to her request, which was sealed with a kiss.

Over the next couple of weeks, Ralph started feeling ‘’withdrawal syndrome.’’ In order to fill the void, he joined a Fantasy Hockey League and played competitive backgammon online. It just wasn’t the same. He thought about trying his luck with online BlackJack or Roulette, but he didn’t pursue it. Ralph thought those games would be too close to online poker and that would be a violation of the deal he had made with Sarah. He had never lied to her or betrayed her trust in the thirty-three years they were married and he had no intention of starting now over online gambling.

Ralph was renewing a house and car insurance policy with his client Nicholas Yastremski when Nicholas excused himself to take a call. He came back and signed off on the contract and gave Ralph a check. As per general etiquette when it came to renewing a policy Ralph stayed a few extra minutes to shmooze. Somehow the discussion turned to professional sports and Nicholas informed Ralph that he was heading to Las Vegas the following week. He enjoyed betting on different sporting events at the sport’s book at the MGM.

Ralph shared his online experience with poker and a big smile came across Nicholas’s face. The call he had taken was from one of Nicholas’s associates. He couldn’t make a poker game that was scheduled for that night. It was going to take place at a local hotel as they provided a nice room for the guys and there was food and drink available. It was a two hundred dollar buy-in and that covered the cost of the location and one hundred dollars in chips.

Ralph asked about the stakes in the game, the antes and how long they played for. Nicholas laughed at his questions, ‘’We’re a bunch of friends, we play small antes and we don’t play past two in the morning. The most you’ll win or lose is a couple of hundred bucks.’’

After thinking about the situation, Ralph thanked Nicholas for the invitation and started to leave. Nicholas called after him ‘’Too bad you can’t play, there would probably be some new business leads for you.’’Those words resonated in Ralph’s head. ‘’Uh where are you guys playing and what time?’’

Nicholas once again smiled at his Insurance Agent and said ‘’The Flying Dutchmen in the Swashbuckler room at eight o’çlock, we like to get an early start, so we get a few hours in. You know eating and laughing. If you join us, I’m sure you’ll have a great time.''

On his way home, Ralph kept trying to figure out how he was going to pitch Sarah on the idea of him leaving to play poker. When he walked into the house, she was looking gorgeous. She rushed over and gave him a passionate kiss. ‘’I am so proud of you, the way you beat your online poker addiction. Let’s go into the bedroom and make love.’’ Ralph kept thinking about the poker game at the Flying Dutchmen, but Sarah was looking vivacious and she was in the mood for love so he thought it was important to prioritize. There would always be another poker game, but when would Sarah be so heated up again.

It was a marathon session of lovemaking and Ralph felt more than satiated. Sarah was full of energy and wanted to pleasure him in every way possible and he loved every second. After taking a shower together, they finally went to bed, the clock on his nightstand read three-fifteen.

The next morning Ralph felt invigorated and Sarah must have felt the same way because they enjoyed some morning delight and jumped into the shower together.

While eating breakfast, Sarah turned on the local news channel and the anchor was talking about a shooting at the Flying Dutchmen, a local hotel. Apparently there were underground poker games being played there, and one of the players in a game accused another player of cheating and as a result, he was shot in the chest. The man shot in the chest Nicholas Yastremski was expected to survive. Milos Rantovoivich of no fixed address had been charged with attempted murder and numerous other offenses.

Ralph felt the colour run out of his face, he told Sarah everything and he became very emotional. He explained how her wanting to make love might have saved his life. She asked if it was better than a poker game, and he replied by taking her hand, leading her to the bedroom and getting amorous one more time.

Two weeks later, Ralph Levenson received an email from a recovering Nicholas Yastemski. It read ‘’I couldn’t go to Las Vegas cause I got shot. Wish you would have shown up for the poker game at the Dutchmen, if you would have, I don’t think there’d be a hole in my chest. The reason I’m sending you this note is cause I was right, there would have been some new business leads for you and I’m the first one. Could you please add Life Insurance to my policy. Oh and one last thing. I’m only going to play online poker from now on, it is way healthier.’’ Ralph chuckled to himself, Nicholas might have thought online poker was the way to go, but making love trumped online poker every time, and he knew it one hundred percent for sure. It was the safest bet he had ever made.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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