Epic Game
48 pages

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Epic Game


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48 pages

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Kat is a tough, independent woman who makes her living as a professional poker player. She is single, childless and happy about it. But when her best friend, Josie, commits suicide, she names Kat as the temporary guardian of her ten-year-old son, David, until his father can come for him. In the few weeks that David is with her, Kat finds herself changed in ways she had never thought imaginable. With the old poker adage “bet with your head, not your heart” ringing in her head like a warning bell, Kat nevertheless finds that all the money and success in the world don’t mean a thing unless you have someone to share it with…and that maybe there is more to life than winning after all.



Publié par
Date de parution 08 mars 2016
Nombre de lectures 4
EAN13 9781459810518
Langue English

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0070€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.




Copyright 2016 William Kowalski
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Kowalski, William, 1970-, author Epic game / William Kowalski. (Rapid reads)
Issued also in print and electronic formats. ISBN 978-1-4598-1049-5 (pbk.).- ISBN 978-1-4598-1050-1 (pdf ).- ISBN 978-1-4598-1051-8 (epub)
I. Title. II. Series: Rapid reads PS 8571. O 985 E 65 2016 C 813'.54 C 2015-904496-0 C 2015-904497-9
First published in the United States, 2016 Library of Congress Control Number: 2015946324
Summary: Kat is a tough, independent woman who makes her living as a professional poker player in this work of fiction. ( RL 2.2)
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.
Cover design by Jenn Playford Cover photography by iStock.com
19 18 17 16 4 3 2 1

In memory of my grandfather, Harold Siepel


Novels Eddie s Bastard Somewhere South of Here The Adventures of Flash Jackson The Good Neighbor The Hundred Hearts
Rapid Reads The Barrio Kings The Way It Works Something Noble Just Gone The Innocence Device

When I was a kid, one of the first things I noticed was that the people who make the rules tend to make them in their favor. So I don t feel too bad about breaking them. I don t always do whatever I want, but I do whatever I need.
And I don t apologize to anybody. If you re going to stack the deck against me, then I don t have to listen to you. The only rules I really like are the ones I make for myself. And I have very few of those.
One of them is, if you re holding a pair of bullets and you re under the gun on the first round, you go all in. Don t be a wuss. Just do it. The turn and the river are too late.
Of course, the river is always too late. If you don t already know who s won the game by the time the river gets turned over, then you re a fish.
Oh, and that s the other rule. If you can t spot the fish at the table then you re it.
Those are two rules that never change.
I have lots of other rules, but I break those whenever I want.
That s what it means to be free.

My dad was a poker player too. He s the one who taught me. He was old school, the kind they don t make anymore. He always carried cards with him, and he would play anywhere. He played in the back rooms of bars, in office buildings after hours, in motels, in run-down apartments, in luxury condos. Once, he told me, he played in a three-day game in a county sheriff s office down south. They couldn t let the public see them, and they didn t have any prisoners, so they just played in the cell block, sitting at the guard s post. Another time he played at a zoo. He came home looking depressed and smelling terrible. Monkeys , he told me, and that was all he would say.
Dad would play anytime too. No hour was sacred. He would play through weddings, funerals, birthdays, parent-teacher conferences, marriage-counseling appointments, anything. He was the most reliable guy I knew. If he was supposed to be somewhere, you could count on him being at a poker game instead.
Now they have poker on TV , just like football or basketball. If my dad were alive to see that, he would laugh his ass off. Who would want to watch a bunch of guys sitting around a table ? he would say. That would be the most boring thing ever .
He d be right, of course. They have to sex it up for TV . But regular poker is boring to watch. I should know. I saw enough of it as a kid to qualify as an expert by the time I was sixteen.
I grew up with my dad, mostly. Sometimes my mom tried to take me back, and I would go along with her for a while. But life at my mom s was even more boring. It was so mind-numbing I could hardly stand it. It was all princess telephones and frilly duvets. Hairdos and lipstick. After-school activities, church youth groups, volunteer committees, horseback riding lessons. Maybe other girls would like that kind of life. There are plenty of kids who would love to have a nice house and normal parents. But it made me want to puke.
I much preferred life with my dad. I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. Half the time, he would forget to send me to school. Not that I missed much. I know quite a bit, but I learned all of it from reading books and watching science programs. He would slip me twenty bucks and tell me to go get whatever I wanted to eat. I could watch anything I wanted on TV . I didn t have to do homework or listen to stupid teachers. There was no such thing as bedtime. It was a miracle I graduated high school. I grew up making forts with the empty pizza boxes that the guys would toss aside as they headed into the second day of an epic game. They were all old men to me, my dad s age-forty, maybe, sometimes much older. I knew most of them by their nicknames. Also by their deep voices that muttered curses. The air full of dirty shirts and dirtier jokes. I would go through the pockets of the coats piled on the couch to see what I could steal. Of course, the guys knew, but they pretended they didn t. I got away with murder because I was a kid, and probably because I was a girl. I was in heaven.
Oh, and I did graduate high school. With honors.
Those old guys liked having me around. A little girl in the joint kept them honest, they said. I don t know how true that was. Some of those guys couldn t play it straight if their lives depended on it. They felt naked without an ace up their sleeve.
I loved listening as the chips shot back and forth across the table and the cards rippled and rattled in their hands. The bullshit flowing around the room in a never-ending river. Music from the sixties and seventies pounding out of the stereo. And that sound the chips made as they were stacked on the table. The sound of money.
Needless to say, my parents were divorced.
That happened early, when I was still a baby. It s a total mystery to me how they even got together in the first place. My mother used to have a thing for bad boys. A lot of girls do, I guess. I find them sort of attractive myself.
But then Mom got religion, dumped my dad, took up with this new guy named Ted and started living with her nose in the air. Whatever. To each their own. I wasn t going that way.
Don t get me wrong. I don t blame my mom. It couldn t have been easy living with a guy who never had a regular job. Moneywise, my dad was a disaster. Up one day, down the next. Well, mostly down, to be honest. Most women wouldn t consider that much of a husband.
Me, I don t care about a husband. I don t care about men at all. I have one when I want, but I don t keep them around for long. I m a card player. That s all I really care about. It s in my genes.
I rely on no one but myself.
That s the way my dad raised me.

I guess I ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately. That s probably because of the tournament coming up. I always call on him when I need luck. I know he s still around, helping me as much as he can from the other side.
This tournament is a big one. The biggest I ve ever played in. It s not the World Series of Poker. I m not quite there yet. But there will be a couple thousand other people playing. Only one of them gets to win. I m determined that s going to be me.
The main purse is one million dollars. That s what the first-place winner gets.
The second-place player gets a hundred. Not a hundred thousand. One hundred dollars. That s just to rub it in-second place might as well be last.
That should heat things up a little.
Imagine what a million bucks in cash would look like, all piled up in the center of the table. I think about it a lot. I m not even embarrassed to say it. I love money. And it s not hard to understand why.
When I was growing up, I never knew what was coming next. Sometimes Dad seemed to be rich. He would suddenly have these pockets full of cash, and he would blow it all on crazy things. He would take us out to dinner and get us the nicest hotel rooms in town. He d buy me new dresses, and I would put them on-even though I hated wearing dresses. It always bothered me that he didn t seem to know that about me.
But when he was flush, we were both so happy that I didn t care. If he had a girlfriend, he would buy her jewelry. But normally, he had no girlfriend. He could never understand why. He was a good-looking guy, and he treated them well. He never knew I kept running them off. I let them know they weren t wanted, in the way that only daughters can. Usually that was all it took for those girlfriends to realize he wasn t worth the misery I would cause for them.
After a few days or weeks of this, just as suddenly the money would be gone. I would wake up in our latest fancy hotel, and Dad would already be packing his bags, a guilty look on his face. I didn t even need to ask what was going on. We had to sneak out the service entrance because he didn t have enough to pay the bill.
Then we d have to go find a new place to stay. Usually this was with one of his poker-playing buddies. These guys all lived in crappy apartments with lousy furniture. I would get the couch, and Dad would sleep on the floor. Sometimes we d have to return the things he d bought on his spending sprees. That was always embarrassing. A few times, we even applied for food stamps.
Just until I get back on my feet , he always said.
And he always did get back on his feet-for a while. Then the whole cycle would begin all over again.
This went on for years. My dad didn t drink much, and he didn t use drugs. But money was his Kryptonite. It turned him into an idiot.
I never told my mom about any of this. But then again, I didn t have to. She already knew. That was why they divorced.
So it makes sense I turned out the way I did, I guess.
I have only one goal in life. To make as much money as possible. Screw everything else. I don t want a husband, a house or a family. I don t even want a job. Jobs are for suckers. You work a job to make someone else rich. I want to live by my wits, eat what I kill and keep everything I can get my hands on.
This is why I love the Internet. I can do all of this without even leaving my house.

I play poker online. That s how I plan on qualifying for this tournament. If you make it through the early games, you get a seat at the real-life main event. You still have to pay for your airfare and hotel room. The buy-in is a thousand bucks, but that s covered if you qualify.
It sounds easy, but it s not. You have to beat a lot of good players. I hate to say it, but you have to get a little bit lucky too. People today know a lot more about poker than they used to. There are a lot more decent players and a lot fewer fish. Sometimes it comes down to knowing the odds better than the other players do. And sometimes you just have to pray that you flip the card you need.
I spend a lot of time at my computer every day. I m not happy about all those hours on my ass, but that s life. I m usually playing three or four poker games at once. I ve got my email open. Facebook too. A YouTube video is usually playing music, often from my favorite group, which happens to have been my dad s favorite group also: Yes.
Remember Yes? I know-it s pretty weird for a chick who s not even thirty to be into a group that old. What can I say? They remind me of him. That s the same reason I have a tattoo of Dad s face on my left shoulder blade, hidden, where no one can see it unless I let them.
So I m sitting at my computer as usual, playing a few games and thinking about the tournament that s coming up, when I get an email from my best friend, Josie. We ve been as close as sisters ever since high school. We re so close we don t even need to talk all the time. Our friendship goes in cycles. There are times when Josie and I email each other ten or twenty times a day. But in the past few months, I hadn t heard much from her. Just the odd text here or there. That s not unusual either. She s pretty busy with her son. I haven t actually seen much of her in the past five years, not since I moved away from Morganville. After what happened to my dad, I don t like going back there.
But when you re as close as Josie and I are, you don t get upset over letting time pass. You just pick up where you left off every time you see each other. That s how friends are supposed to be.
When I left Morganville, Josie was married to a guy named Charlie and had a five-year-old kid. Her marriage didn t last too long. Josie was a bit of a wild girl. Always had been. She didn t like to be tied down. I guess Charlie couldn t handle that.
Charlie was a pretty nice guy. Maybe a little too nice. He s remarried now, I hope to a woman who doesn t run around on him. Nobody deserves that. He s living in Europe with his second wife. Josie has custody of their son, David.
I look more closely at this email.
It isn t from Josie. It s about her. Her name is in the subject line.
It s from a lawyer s office: Molton Hudson and Winkel.

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