Nonfiction from Deb Rogers
Gamblers talk a lot of shit. Poker table, casino, bingo hall, or strip mall arcade, it’s all the same. The banter swarms. Some dude talks himself up. Or runs himself down. Or runs you down. Or just talks to let his voice hold air, to see how high it will pull him.
I talk a lot.
Sometimes it’s friendly, because we’re all in it together, this vice that is performed in public. Sometimes it’s part of the game, a psy-op to get you to play right into the talker’s hand or a gentle tug that causes you to reveal your tells. It’s never silent in those joints, even when it’s quiet.
We need each other to play. We’re close together and it’s dirty in every way. The chips are filthy, the players reek of booze and flop, the cash—who knows, right? The filth is half the fun. The other half is winning. For me, anyway. Some people want to lose. We need them, too.
I miss it all, but I really miss the chance to steal someone’s luck. You can’t do that online or at a distance. If you want to steal luck, you need to move in close. You need to get in there and take theirs away if you want some for yourself. You need to feel the waves of fortune dancing off of a winner. You need to whisper to it, coax it over, brush a shoulder or a hand when you reach for dice or a card. You need to touch a hot machine while their hand is still feverishly cooking it. There’s no way around it: you have to be there to get lucky.
Deb Rogers is a writer and media producer who lives in St. Augustine, Florida. Her essays and creative work have been published online and in the anthology Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox. Find her on Twitter @debontherocks.