Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.
That popular phrase, heard most often at or around poker tables, defines (insert pseudonym here)'s life. Formerly a college student, (pseudonym) gave up - at least temporarily - on the academic world. Rather than paying through the roof to fund an education he was never particularly interested in, (pseudonym) decided he'd rather use his mysterious character and willingness to compete to turn a profit. His life now revolves around check-raises, three-bets and river flushes. He's what the gambling world calls a rounder - someone who earns his or her living on cards, but he prefers to consider himself a professional grinder.
His game is Texas Hold 'em, by far the most popular form of poker in the world. It's the game that took the world by storm in 2003, when amateur card player Chris Moneymaker parlayed $30 (I think - need to fact check) into a seat in the Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, Nev. The main event is decided over a game of Texas Hold 'em in the no-limit variety (where players may bet every dollar they have and can win up to the amount they have). In Minnesota, No limit Hold 'em is illegal, but several high-limt games are available for people like (pseudonym).
Texas Hold 'em is played by dealing each player two cards face down, known as 'hole cards'. Five cards then come across the middle - three cards come at the same time, known as the "flop", followed by a single "turn" card and the last card known as "the river" or "fifth street." A round of betting takes place before and after the flop, then after the turn and river. The showdown then takes place, where the winning hand is awarded the entire pot. Players may use any combination of his or her hole cards and the five community cards to make the strongest possible hand.
This is what I have so far to "set-up" my story. I want to give the general background of the game and life of a "grinder" without getting too technical and risking losing the attention of prospective readers. Once my story is set up I have several "chapters" that I can put in play for the actually narrative part of my story, which I will list below.
• (pseudonym) being shaken down at Black Bear
• (pseudonym) crushing the 5-60 (biggest legal game in Minn.) at Running Aces, full description of weekend "grinding", including actions away from table
• (pseudonym) tries to sit down and play at the Bear, after the infamous incident
• trying to fully describe/figure out (pseudonym)
• poker "language"
• what motivates this kid?
• his plans to "roll himself" and take a shot in Sin City (Las Vegas)