The first few hours of Dimitar’s time at the €5/€10 cash table went well. He kept his play tight and aggressive, using position to raise when he was last to act and made sure he took mental notes on each player. Most of the players at the table were the same and there were no huge leaks. Players who liked to straddle knew how to play inflated pots from the pre-flop and post-flop stages. Those who were tighter had their three-betting ranges nailed down and weren’t afraid to play back if they felt their opponent was playing on their image. The game rolled around to mid-afternoon before Dimitar moved into profit, edging his initial stack of €1,000 up to €1,080. He was glad he’d listened to Sam Houston and kept another €1,000 stack back at the apartment in the safe. 

In the early evening, he caught a big break. An Austrian man sat down at the felt and looked distracted. Asking to move seats, he had a brief discussion with the floor person before being moved from two seats to Dimitar’s left to the same distance around the table to his right. That suited the Bulgarian; now he had position on a potentially aggro player

The problem was that the man was very good. He raised wildly, but it was almost as if he liked to put himself into challenging positions purely so that he could play. He was also the life and soul of the table, taking a degree of emotional control over everyone with whom he was sharing the felt. 

‘You, handsome leather jacket guy,’ he finally said to Dimitar, an hour into what had become the ‘Fritz’ show, Fritz being his name. ‘You say little but play plenty, huh?’ 

Dimitar wasn’t used to long conversations, especially not in his native tongue. He preferred to let his cards do the talking, but it was hard to resist a chat with Fritz. 

‘I play enough. You don’t play with me?’ Dimitar smiled, raising on the button with a suited king-queen. Fritz, who had led the betting with a standard three times the blind bet from the hijack position, made the call. 

‘All right, hot shot, I give you position.’

‘The flop brought a queen for Dimitar, along with two sixes. He c-bet the flop to around 40% of the pot.’ 

‘Standard c-bet, so you hit. I like it. Charge me for draws, but no flush out there. You think I call for runner-runner? My jacket is suede, not leather, handsome. I call.’

The words came out like bursts from a rifle, quick, hitting their mark. Dimitar couldn’t help laughing a little at the man’s exuberance. 

A seven arrived on the turn, this time in hearts, the same as one of the sixes on the board. 

‘A good card for me, but not for you?’ asked Fritz. 

Dimitar said nothing. He led out, this time for a lower percentage of the pot, but a bigger amount. 

Fritz made the call, this time in silence. 

An eight landed on the river. Fritz checked. Dimitar wanted to bet his hand but held back. The straight had come in. The flush hadn’t, but that didn’t mean Fritz wasn’t being cheeky with ten-nine suited. The call on the flop wouldn’t have made sense. 

Dimitar checked. 

‘Good check, handsome.’ Said Fritz. Dimitar turned over his king-queen, but it was no good. Fritz turned over a five-six for flopped trips. Dimitar lost the pot. It was painful watching the more than €200 of his bankroll go across the felt, but in the next hand, he saw Fritz’s crucial tell, and the reason he’d asked to move seats.

Able to see the TV screen that was mounted behind what would initially have been his seat, Fritz was avidly watching the action between Juventus and A.C. Milan. With five minutes gone, a Juventus player was streaking away towards the crowd after having just scored.

Fritz gripped a poker chip in his hand, squeezing it hard, letting some tension go, trying not to let the rest of the table see his frustration. 

Was he a Milan fan? Dimitar watched him closely and in the next hand, Fritz gave away a pile of chips chasing a flush when he needed runner-runner from the flop. He caught the turn and missed the river, losing plenty of chips while doing so. A hand later, he’d fixed that leak, but ten minutes later, a Milanese equalizer caused him the same consternation. 

It wasn’t about the teams, thought Dimitar. It was the goals. Fritz had bet the under. 

Dimitar waited, calmly and patiently, until that third goal went in. It wasn’t long, coming right before half-time. Two Italian teams and three goals before half-time? Who would have predicted that? Fritz looked angry and played the next hand. Dimitar raised aggressively with pocket fours. A re-raise from Fritz. A call from Dimitar. 

The flop was a dream, coming king-jack-four. Dimitar c-bet, wanting to show some strength. Fritz angrily shoved his chips over the line. 

‘I’m all-in, handsome. You have the king too?’ 

‘Sorry,’ said Dimitar, turning over his fours for bottom set. Fritz flipped king-queen. No trouble came on turn or river and Dimitar bagged a double-up. 

It was only five hours later that he made his way into his hotel room €3,500 up for the night. He had €4,500. Opening the safe, he went to add his newly won currency to the €1,000 already in there. 

Also inside was a note. 

A very good night, Dimitar.

Keep up the good work.

Elena and I can’t wait to see you.


Dimitar shut the door, not touching the scrap of casino-branded compliment slip. Someone inside the hotel was working for the enemy. 

Chapter 2.2                                  Chapter 3.1

About the Author: Paul Seaton has written about poker for over 10 years, interviewing some of the best players ever to play the game such as Daniel Negreanu, Johnny Chan and Phil Hellmuth. Over the years, Paul has reported live from tournaments such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and the European Poker Tour. He has also written for other poker brands where he was Head of Media, as well as BLUFF magazine, where he was Editor.

This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental.