The All In Kid Strikes Again

I was reel­ing from the funk of old ten­nis shoes and [OH MY GOD] recently, in my tiny car, dri­ving the boy and his stink­mates home from a movie when my mind tried to alle­vi­ate my dis­tress by play­ing old home movies in my head from back in the day. Par­tic­u­larly, of when I taught the boy poker.

I know what you’re say­ing: “Jesus, Gar­ling­ton, first you become the des­ig­nated porn hub of your street, then you let him drink beer, and now you’re teach­ing him how to gam­ble? We’re call­ing the cops!” But it’s not like I handed him a credit card and pointed him to Poker Sites U.S.A.

No, I just decided it was a healthy way to teach him math and cun­ning. What I didn’t real­ize is the sheer insane glee with which he gam­bles. It’s like he’s Richy Rich’s dark twin let loose in Vegas or plopped down in front of Online Casi­nos for USA Play­ers with a bag of dig­i­tal green­backs (which is one of the Best US Poker Sites I’ve ever lost a hun­dred bucks on …)

I showed him the basics and we ran through a cou­ple of games. He was mildly inter­ested. Mostly because I’d shut down the cable feed. After I fig­ured he had a grip on your basic five card game, I intro­duced him to bet­ting and watched in hor­ror as he mor­phed from a cute kid play­ing poker to a full grown man in a dou­ble breasted leop­ard print shark­skin suit throw­ing money at me, scream­ing HERE’S FIVE BUCKS, BUY YOURSELF SOMETHING NICE!

It took a cou­ple of rounds before he really under­stood we were play­ing for real money.

Roon: Wait, you mean if I win this hand I get to keep the money?

Dad: Yep.

Roon: And you won’t say any­thing? I mean, I don’t have to mow the lawn for this, right?

Dad: Shit.

Three hands later, the kid’s rain­manned me out of ten bucks. I get a hand that makes my knees weak, a flush of such stag­ger­ing rar­ity I kick myself for not being at the “fish­camp” poker cabin. I go all in.

Roon: What the hell is that?

Dad: I’m bet­ting every­thing I have on my hand. You match my bet.

Roon: What if I can’t match it?

Dad: You have to bet every­thing you have.

He matches my bet and loses grace­fully. I drag the pot over and deal another hand. He looks at his cards and on his bet he says “All in.” The next three hands he goes all in. Every hand after that, he goes all in. Every bet, every time, he’s all in.  By the end of the after­noon, he’s smok­ing a che­root and I’m drink­ing straight Rye whisky from the bottle.

You know those signs for casi­nos that have a tagline at the bot­tom in print so small amoe­bas go blind try­ing to read it, say­ing If you or some­one you know has a gam­bling prob­lem, call 800-blah-blah-blah? I called them.


800: Do you have a gam­bling problem?

Me: My son just took me for every­thing I had.

800: Has your son’s gam­bling affected his job or friendships?

Me: Well, I don’t like him anymore.

800: Has he asked you for money in the last 30 days?

Me: Every day.

800: Oh dear. And how old is your son?

Me: Ten.

800: …

Me: And a half. Here’s the thing, I can’t seem to explain to him that “all in” is a rare gambit.

800: We’re here to help gam­bling problems—

Me: It is a prob­lem. How’s this kid gonna play two games in a row if he’s all in every hand.

800: Every hand?

Me: Every bet.

800: And …

Me: Cleaned me out.

800: I can’t believe it works.

Me: Wanna bet?

800: [click].

About Bull Garlington

Christopher Garlington is the humor columnist for Chicago Parent magazine, Seattle Parent Map, and New York Parenting magazine. His stories have appeared in Atlanta Parent, Baton Rouge Parent, Parenting ABC (U.K.); Florida, Orlando, Orlando Weekly, Catholic Digest, Retort, Another Realm, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, and other magazines. He is the author of the infamous anti-parenting blog, Death By Children; co-author of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats.