S.c.a.m. – vocabulary novel for sat / gre / toefl / gmat exams ( chapter one)
“I’ll tell you what your problem is, Mike. You suck at bluffing,” Tyler Brooks said, tossing a couple
more chips into the pot in the center of the table. “You just don’t have a mendacious nature. And that is
why . . . I am going . . . to kick . . . your . . . ass.”
The other guys around the felt-topped poker table laughed. I feigned concern as Tyler turned his
baseball cap around backward and leaned back in his chair. I let him smile his triumphant smile for a
moment, delaying his misery for fun. Hey. At least I admit it. I enjoy taking my friends down. That’s what
poker’s all about, isn’t it?
Well, unless you’re in it for the money. But considering our biggest pot to date was a whopping
forty-two bucks, no one around here was going home a zillionaire. Nope. Our games were really just
excuses to get together and talk smack.
“And your problem is, Brooksy, you’re a bombastic ass,” I replied, calling his bet. “Let’s see what
“Full house. Ladies over tens,” Tyler announced, turning his two hole cards over. Sure
enough — when added to the communal cards, he did have a fairly sweet hand. Three queens and two
tens. Not bad at all. But not as good as . . .
“Foiled again, my friend,” I said, turning over my two threes.
“Oh!” the guys around the table cheered and groaned.
Tyler’s face fell with a satisfying plop. Ian O’Connor, my best friend and the ultimate poker host,
reached over to slap my hand. Add my threes to the two in the river and that gave me four of a kind. It
had been audacious of me, calling Tyler’s bet with two tens out there as well. He could have had four
tens, after all. But I took my chances. It’s not often that I do that. My betting style is usually based on my
innateparsimony. But sometimes, you just gotta roll the dice.
“He totally waxed your ass!” Brad Lackler cried mirthfully.
“Shut up, Lackler,” Tyler grumbled.
“It is a shame how four little threes can beat your big old royals,” I said.
“Dude, you suck,” Tyler whined, throwing his cards down.
“Beg to differ,” I shot back, reaching out to gather my winnings. “These chips beg to differ too,
by the way.”
Ian reached over his head and stretched, glancing at the pool-ball wall clock on the far side of his
spacious basement. Every Friday night the guys met up here for a few games, a couple sodas (or beers
when we could come by them), and some laughs. You’d think Ian’s parents would break up the party
once in a while, but being one of the richest kids in Hillside was not without its perks. Ian’s folks were
out half the time at some charitable function or another, and when they were home, their house was so
damn big they never even realized we were down here.
“It’s about that time, fellas,” Ian said, gathering up the cards. He glanced in my direction. We all
knew I had to get home before football curfew. On the nights before games we all had to be home by
ten o’clock. Every once in a while Coach even went down the roster and cold-called our houses to make
sure we were there. Some guys managed to get their parents to lie for them, but Coach had figured out
the ploy and always insisted on speaking directly to his players.
“No way!” Tyler complained. “One more game. You gotta give me a chance to win my money
Ian glanced at me and I shrugged. “Fine by me,” I said. I had some time. And we all knew Tyler
wouldn’t be mollified until I gave in. He was the sorest loser of the group.