(continued from The King of King’s Road (13))
The next morning the homeless man awoke in the shelter, ate some hot porridge and showered. He returned to his cot and began to shuffle his deck of cards. As the other men in the shelter finished their porridge they began to gather around the homeless man and watch him shuffle the cards. As his audience grew, the homeless man began to demonstrate some card tricks. After several tricks he sat on the floor and dealt four hands of five cards each laid face down. He then looked around the faces of the men gathered around him and smiled.
One of the men sat down and took up one of the five-card hands. Then another. And another. When each hand was taken, the homeless man reached for his tin can filled with coins. He took out a 5p coin and threw it on the floor in the middle of the men holding the other hands. The man to his left reached into his pocket and pulled out a small cloth sack filled with coins and spilled its contents out on the floor in front of him. He then placed a 5p coin in the middle next to the homeless man’s coin. Each of the other men then reached into their pockets for some coins and did the same. The homeless man then looked at the man to his left, who held up three fingers and handed back three cards face down. The homeless man dealt him three new cards. Each of the next two men, held up two fingers and exchanged two cards for two new ones. The homeless man then put back one of his cards in exchange for a new one.
The four men kept taking turns throwing coins in the middle, matching and raising each other’s bets until there was almost two pounds worth of coins in the pot. Finally, one of the men matched without raising and laid out his hand face up with two pair king high. Each of the men showed their hands. The homeless man took the pot with a full house. Then two more men sat on the floor with a pile of coins. The homeless man dealt six new hands. And so it went, as the six men played poker on the floor of the homeless shelter for several hours, until each of the men had run out of coins and the homeless man had won twenty pounds.