Black Ace. Red Lady.

Vegas is a cold mistress. Loss expected, we sit at the table anyway. Whiskey and ice. Confident in our stack of chips, built slowly over time. We hold them close, tempting others to draw us in.

Check. Check. Fold. Fold. Check. Fold. Fold.

Bet small and lose on a weak hand. Just to show we’re willing to play. Just to be in the game.

Fold. Fold. Check. Fold. Waiting for anything worth the risk. Drinking. Playing. Tempting. Patience.

The cards come, eventually, but without guarantee.

Black Ace. Red Lady.

This. Temptation. The game begins. A big bet up front, just to see who stays, who leaves.

Cards flipped. Some help. Some hurt. Small bets. Fake confidence. Feign weakness. Push. Pull.

“All in,” she says. Question called.

You sat at the table. You ordered the free drinks. You traded sarcasm and banter. Tipped the dealer for luck. But, you didn’t sit at the table for these things.

All in? In a flash, you decide. You’re here to play. Risk.

“All in.”

Poker can be lost to greed or boredom. Sometimes we play because we’re tired of waiting. Sometimes we reach for too much too soon. Sometimes we sit at the table out of loneliness, letting our chips dwindle in small, predictable donations.

But, sometimes, knowing the odds, we choose to play.

“All in” I hear the words echo in my head. I feel myself push the chips. Time slows, cards revealed.

Win? Lose? Neither matters. Eventually, you’ll experience both and more.

What matters is that you sat at the table.

You played the game.

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