The Mott Street Poker Club
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The Mott Street Poker Club


The Man from Belleville

How the Club Saw Some Remarkable Hands


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WHEN the club assembled at the usual hour, and Mr. Hong-Lung produced seven full packs from his sleeves, and began to sort them over, and select his extra aces, a walleyed Chinaman from Belleville walked in with a guileless expression and a bundle under his arm, and interrogated Mr. Lee-Tip as to the possibilities of a job.

“What kindee job?” queried Mr. Lee-Tip.

“Washee-washee,” responded the wanderer from the wilds of Jersey, confidently.

“Why you comee to New York?” demanded Mr. Lee-Tip, suspiciously. “You aflaid policee in Jelsee?”

The immigrant hastened to assure the Mott Street washee-washee magnate that he rested under no such dread. He had changed his base on a caprice, and to prove that he was no pauper he produced a Balbriggan sock full of silver dollars, and whacked it on the table. Mr. Lee-Tip’s eyes gleamed covetously at the sight, and he immediately winked significantly at Mr. Hong-Lung and invited the stranger to take part in the game.

“What you callee him?” demanded the stranger, innocently.

“Polkel,” replied Mr. Lee-Tip.

“What him made of?” persisted the cautious victim, very much as if poker were a new kind of rat stew or a novel insect soup.

Playing Poker

“Makee allee samee Melican man,” said Mr. Hong-Lung, sententiously dealing the cards. “You playee, you sabbee heap quick.”

This apparently satisfied the stranger, who, with the usual series of inquiries and blunders, and the disinterested assistance of Mr. Hong-Lung and Mr. Lee-Tip, soon managed to reduce his sock to a decidedly consumptive state. Mr. Hop-Sam, who had observed the progress of events, with eyes that would have made good hat-pegs, now concluded that it was about time to declare a jack-pot, into the mystery of which institution Mr. Hong-Lung had initiated the club at the previous session. The guileless visitor from Belleville accepted this decision as a matter-of-fact, and having been carefully instructed as to his hand by Mr. Lee-Tip, he promptly lost half the remainder of his capital—the pot going to Mr. Hong-Lung. When the next hand was dealt, Mr. Gin-Sing repeated the performance of Mr. Hop-Sam. The stranger said:

“Him velly funny ting, him jack-pot.”

“Him velly fust chop when you catchee calds,” retorted Mr. Hong-Lung, slyly.

Mr. Lee-Tip, having gone over his own hand, offered to perform the same service for the visitor, and discovered that he had nothing in it to justify a five-cent bet. But he came in all the same. All the capital of the club was on the table by the time the pot was opened, and the stranger stood to lose everything excepting his toe and finger nails and his pig-tail. Mr. Hop-Sam was so deliriously excited that he kicked Mr. Gin-Sing’s shins raw under the table, and Mr. Hong-Lung and Mr. Lee-Tip blinked ecstatically at each other and began to contemplate a pleasure trip to China, in their minds. Finally, Mr. Hop-Sam could contain himself no longer. With a yell of glee he tossed his hand upon the table.

It held three aces and a pair of kings.

Mr. Gin-Sing showed up two kings and three aces.

Mr. Lee-Tip exhibited four aces and a king.

Mr. Hong-Lung had four kings and an ace.

For an instant the club held its breath. The wall-eyed stranger’s countenance, however, betrayed no evidence of emotion. He placidly laid down his hand and drew a long stocking from his pocket.

While the Club was staring in blank amazement at the five aces he had held, he swept the pile on the table into the stocking and walked out.

Mr. Hong-Lung was the first to recover his self-possession. In a voice quivering with indignation he said:

“Him cheatee allee samee Melican man, by glosh!”

Mr. Lee-Tip went into the back kitchen and butted his bead against the wall till the plaster fell from the ceiling and it required two hours’ labor of the Club to dig him out.

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