I stood in Otis’ Secret Cubby, thumbing through the stack of bills, trying to hide the look of eager anticipation that always runs through my nervous system before I hit a homegame. I peeled $100 off the stack and pushed it into my back pocket. I needed to leave soon and my poker feet were already tapping on the hardwood.

“A hundred is more than enough,” I said to myself. The max buy-in was only going to be $30. If history proved a good barometer of my monetary necessities, I would need no more than $60 to ride my way to a modest profit for the night.

That’s when I heard it. The other voice, benevolent in its slot hoki tenor, said, “Peel off another hundred. You know, just in case there are some gamblers there that want to play for some real money.”

Bravado has never been one of my strong suits. Every time I try to play the confident, devil-may care road gambler, it looks silly on me.

Still, I listened, peeled off another hundred, stuffed it in my pocket with its friend from the secret cubby hole, and departed for BadBlood’s.

***

After my last trip to The Mark had ended in booze-induced folly, I decided that virtual sobriety would better serve me on Saturday evening. Plus, I’d never been to Badblood’s house, and I didn’t want to scare the rest of the Blood clan.

With that in mind, I decided to pull a small bottle of Absolut off the liquor shelf. My last big win at The Mark had been fueled by a spiked Sonic Limeaide. I figured a Route 44 would serve me well, Plus, it would have a lid and if I turned clutzy, as is my wont, I wouldn’t ruin BadBlood’s new table.

But I mis-navigated my drive, bypassed Sonic entirely, and ended up picking up G-Rob without refreshment in tow. G-Rob just lives around the corner from BadBlood, and a convenience store sits in between, so we stopped and picked up some schwag beer, and made it to Blood’s about five minutes early.

In retrospect, I think there may be some corrolation between schwag beer and poor poker performance on my part. While I barely drank at all at Blood’s on Saturday night, I think the ghost of August A. Busch may have something against me.

A compromise may be in order. I’m thinking Guinness in a sippy cup may be the best idea.

But, really, this talk of alcohol, sippy cups, and August Busch is no more than a distraction from the real story, a digression from a place I just don’t want to take this respectable blog.

But, if we must, I figure we should go there now.

***

As I walked into Blood’s to a chorus of incredibly polite children, I made a note to title this post “GANT at BadBlood’s.” GANT (as in “Got A New Table”) would be my whimsical way to approach a humble post about raking pot after pot on BadBlood’s brand-spankin’ new full-sized table.

Complete with a padded rail, cup-holders, and seating for ten, it was beauty in the form of furniture. Blood opted for the dark red (he would say, “plum”) fabric for the table top. His new cards slid across the fabric with the ease of an air hockey puck.

I made the concious effort to find a seat to G-Rob’s left. His aggressive playing style has been known to kill and tilt me in the past. I figured I could stem that tide early if I could keep an eye on him.

In the adjoining room, Game 1 of the World Series began. BadBlood, a BoSox fan, and I, a Missouri-native redbird fan, settled on a six-pack of good beer to the winning fan. I made a mental note to ask for Guinness when the Cardinals swept the Sox.

As the players pulled out their buy-ins, I sat quietly as G-Rob covered my first $30. I’d won a prop bet the previous weekend by failing to fall down in a drunken stupor more than 2.5 times. G-Rob, who had taken the over, owed me.

This, I thought, is going to be the best freeroll I’ve ever played.