The first few hands were by-the-book small ball. The button player raised, c-bets, wins the pot. On the fifth hand, Dimitar looked at his screen and saw the seven and eight of diamonds. He remembered how Elena had always loved diamonds, how they felt and shone, and how the colours and shapes would dance around when the light hit them just right. She didn’t have any, neither of them could ever afford any, but she loved them nonetheless. They had spoken about one day affording them.

loose diamond gemstones

Dimitar raised it up in position. Serf three-bet to $1,600 and Dimitar called. The flop came down king-high, with two low diamonds, a three and a four. The flush draw, and a possible backdoor straight. 

Serf bet out $2,000, an obvious overbet, and Dimitar just made the call. The turn is a queen of spades, a bad card and the straight was dead. There are two overs to his cards and he was playing with air. Serf bet $4,000. Another bet that was bigger than expected but only slightly bigger than half the pot. Over Serf’s shoulder, Dimitar saw Elena looking at the screen. He put on his best poker face, trying not to react, but he needed to see if she would give anything away. Serf’s face was stone. His expression gave away nothing that Dimitar could discern through the small screen on his phone. He could have a king, queen, a straight draw with low cards, or even a bigger flush, although that was unlikely. Or he might have nothing at all. 

Elena glanced away to the left. Anything one does at the poker table, like looking away from a big hand, can be a tell. But it could mean that Elena didn’t want to give anything away. 

‘You have a draw?’ Dimitar asked. 

There was no movement from Serf. Elena finished her chocolate bar and held onto the empty wrapper. 

‘Can you beat an ace, Dimitar?’ she asked. 

‘I didn’t tell you to talk!’ Serf said in response. “Keep quiet, or all bets are off, and you know what that means.’ 

Dimitar made the call. The river was the ace of clubs. No diamond flush. Just eight-high in his hand. But that ace. If he had a chance of bluffing his way to winning the pot, this was it.

‘Eight thousand.’

‘That’s a big bet, Dimitar. Did you miss your flush draw or do you have the ace?’ 

Dimitar breathed deeply, silently, hoping that he would give away nothing. Small physical irritations started to manifest as he stared at the screen, aware that he was being scrutinised by a man who had missed the obvious signs of his wife’s affair but had correctly read the fear in his opponent’s eyes at the top of a mountain. That was why Serf had taken Elena. Peter knew what Dimitar was afraid of and had put him in that position to always have an advantage. 

But was Peter afraid of an ace in this hand? 

Elena was stoic, staring blankly at the screen. She reached for her drink and took a big sip, her eyes never leaving the screen – she wasn’t looking at the cards, she was staring at Dimitar. He couldn’t look back to get a read on her. The money was too important. He was playing for a ticket to save her life. Serf made the call and opened his jack-queen with the jack of diamonds. 


Dimitar had lost the first big pot, and had lost it early in the match. 

‘Nothing at all.’ Serf smiled. ‘And now less chips to fight with. You should have been looking at me, not your girlfriend.’

Elena cursed, throwing her chocolate wrapper at the camera where it rested in the corner of Dimitar’s viewscreen on his phone. He looked at the ace of clubs and grimaced. It had cost him eight thousand dollars, which he could not afford to lose. 

‘You had it all worked out. Everything in front of you now – on the river.’ She said, staring at the screen. Dimitar bowed his head, trying not to reveal how disappointed he was to lose the hand, attempting to conceal the weakness and doubt he felt building in his mind. He was down over 25% of his stack, and they had only been playing for twenty minutes. 

An hour in, just before the first break, Dimitar was starting to tire. Playing for as long as he had in the golf club tournament, then heading straight into an online heads-up battle for $40,000 had drained him. He wasn’t prepared for it, and he would be nearly a 3:1 dog when they sat back down and the blinds went up. Only 100 big blinds were on the table, and when he returned from the five-minute break, it would be with just 32 of them to his name. 

  ‘I’ll see you in five minutes, my friend.’ Said Serf, switching off the camera. Elena had not had a chance to communicate anything to Dimitar, who utilised the toilet break for what it was intended. He drank some water to help hydrate his brain. He kept losing small pots. He had been trying to preserve his stack too much and not attacking Serf’s pile of online poker chips enough. One of them was going to lose the $40,000 tonight. That wasn’t the right mindset, Dimitar realised as restated the thought – Serf will lose $40,000 tonight, and I’ll be closer to saving Elena.

Chapter 5.1                                  Chapter 5.3

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.