APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 10 November, 2000


Fences of Cards

Dennis D. Kirkpatrick

A small group of cadets sit around a table enjoying a late evening of cards away from the studies and rigors of the academy. The haze of cigar smoke hovers around the solitary light suspended above the felt covered table. All eyes are fixed on the cards held in the hands of freshman Ernest Wilkerston.

"So, Wilkerston," a cadet named Jack Fallows calls from across the table. "Are you in?"

"Let him be," Ernest's close friend Kenneth Branu rebukes. "Hey, Ernest, you want some help. Here show me you cards."

"No, it's OK, "Ernest responds. "I think I'm getting a handle on it."

"Yeah, Kenneth," Jack challenges. "Let the man make his own decision." A few of the other cadets around the table nod and grunt in agreement. "I mean, he called the game," Jack pushes. "5 card stud, suicide king and jack of hearts wild. Am I right?"

"Alright, Jack," Ernest protests. "I fold."

"Figures," Jack taunts. "Well, can anyone beat a full house." The table moans as everyone throws their cards down on the table. Jack grins as he pulls the pile of marks and starts stacking his winnings.

This has already been a long night of cards for the seven cadets around the table. Most present were sophomores. There was Jill Mauro, Stephen Duncan, Peter Gaphling, Cyndy Knute, and Jack Fallows. Jack, a third year sophomore cadet, was the veteran to this table. He loved to pick on freshmen like the two remaining table newcomers Ernest Wilkerston and Kenneth Branu. Kenneth had played a lot cards in his hometown of Ronda; Ernest wasn't so fortunate.

It was Kenneth's turn to deal. Ernest smiled weakly as he cuts the cards for his friend. Kenneth smiled back, responding to Ernest's silent remorse. "Remember, poker is about knowing how and when to bet, not necessarily knowing what the cards are." Ernest nodded, looking down at his now meager pool of chips.

"OK, boys and girls," Kenneth called out. "Let's do something a little different. This is a game that I learned from a traveler down south. It's really simple. Nobody has to hold any cards. Everything is played off the dealers draw."

"Huh," most everyone questioned in unison.

Kenneth chuckled. "It's called Posts and Fences. Basically, I will draw two cards and place them face up on the table. These are the posts. Now, whoever's turn that it is will make a bet on the next card."

"This sounds really stupid," Jack protests.

Kenneth pauses before continuing. "OK, now, what you want is a card that is between the value of the other two cards. That's the fence. Now, if it is outside the value of the two cards, then you lose."

"What about aces," Jill asks.

"You call them as either high or low when you bet," Kenneth shrugs. "Oh, did I say that suites are irrelevant. You folks got it?"

"This really sounds dumb," Jack protest again. "Let's just stick to straight cards."

"What in Prophet's name is straight cards?" Stephan asks coyly.

"Not, Posts and Fences," Jack replies, pulling his cigar to mouth.

"Come on, guys," Kenneth begs a bit. "It really is fun. Trust me, OK. Peter, you're first. Here we go." Kenneth flips out two cards, a jack and an ace.

"So what do I do, Kenneth?" Peter questions.

"Place a bet, twenty five pence minimum."

"OK." Peter throws in a coin. "Now what?"

"Well," Kenneth replies. "You need to choose whether the ace is low or high."

"High?" Peter answers shyly.

"OK, you want it high." Kenneth throws down the third card, a nine. "It's a nine. You didn't keep the fence inside the posts, sorry." Peter shrugs.

Jack throws down his cigar into the nearby ashtray. "This doesn't sound stupid; it is stupid."

"Relax, let's just try at least one round around the table," Kenneth pleads. The other cadets excluding Jack nod in agreement. "OK," Kenneth continues. "Let's go Jill; it's your turn." He throws down two new cards. "Hmm, you've got a three and a nine."

"I bet a quarter pence," Jill calls, tossing the coin into the pot.

Kenneth flips out the third card. "Oh, you lose with a queen." It's Cyndy's turn to bet; Kenneth draws two more cards, a two and a king.

"Can I bet the whole pot?" Cyndy asks.

"You can bet whatever you want." Kenneth waits for Cyndy to decide.

Cyndy throws in two coins. "The odds are good; I'll bet the pot."

The third card is dealt, a king. "Whoa, you hit the post," Kenneth exclaims.

"What the heck does that mean?" Stephen asks.

"Cyndy, you pulled a draw," Kenneth explains. "Basically, you can take back your bet." Cyndy draws out a half mark.

Kenneth draws two more cards, exposing a five and a seven. Everyone turns to Jack, who is starting down at the cards. "What do you want to bet Jack?" Kenneth asks.

After a brief pause, Jack responds. "What the heck, I bet against the pot as well."

"You sure?" Kenneth asks.

"Yes, I bet the pot." Jack pulls his cigar to mouth.

"You'll need a six to win," Kenneth taunts. "You sure."

"For Prophet's sake Branu, yes," Jack bursts. "I know the odds."

Kenneth flips out the deciding card. "It's an eight." Jack responds by just leaning back his chair and taking a long draw on his cigar.

"Stephen, you ready?" Stephen nods as Kenneth deals the next hand. "Looks like you have a jack and an ace. What are you going to call?"

Stephen pauses in thought before deciding. "Let's call it low, and I'll bet a quarter mark."

"OK, the man calls the ace low...," Kenneth calls. The card falls. It's a five; you win!" Stephen draws out a half mark. "Ernest, you ready?" Kenneth smiles.

"Sure." The cards fall as ten and ace. Ernest thinks about it before calling. "Umm, how about low, and I'm betting twenty five mark."

"Those are pretty good odds; you sure you don't want to raise it?" Kenneth asks.

"Let the man place his own bets Kenneth," Stephen begs. "He needs to learn sometime."

Kenneth doesn't answer; he just draws the third card. "It's a jack," he calls. "Sorry Ernest." The freshman frowns in disappointment.

"Well, that's a round," Kenneth resolves. "What do you guys think? You want to continue." Everyone except Jack nods in agreement. "OK then, Peter, it's back to you."

The pace now starts to pick up as the table falls into the building momentum. As the cards fall, some players lose and others win, but the pot still continues to grow. Kenneth adds to the increased frenzy by continuing to talk up the play. Even Jack starts to take an interest. Although, his focus seems primarily on the pot which has grown to over fifty marks. The stakes are now high. Most everyone is betting at least five marks at a time, except Ernest. Ernest just can't seem to get into the frenzy of high stakes, keeping his bets at quarter marks.

As another table round closes down, Stephen loses another hand adding another five marks to the pot. It's now up to Ernest. He looks at his now meager pot of quarter marks. The cards fall down as a jack and an ace.

"What's it going to be," Kenneth asks. Ernest just sits there looking at the cards and then the pot.

Jack picks up on Ernest's thoughts; he perks up, placing his cigar in its tray. "What about the whole pot?" Ernest looks Jack in the eye as if his thoughts were exposed, then back down at the cards.

"Well," Kenneth implores. The table starts getting tense, edging Ernest to decide. That's when Ernest leans back and reaches into his pockets. He pulls out a wad of marks. The table breaks into revelry at the pending declaration.

"I am going for the whole pot," Ernest declares.

"Whoa," Jack exhales. "We've got a big time gambler at the table."

"You sure Ernest," Kenneth explores. "That's a lot of money."

"Someone has to end this torturous game," Jack interjects, smiling. The others nod in affirmation.

"Nature's been calling me," Jill confesses. "Let's let him try to end this, so I can finally go to the head."

"OK," Kenneth concedes. "So, Ernest, what's the ace going to be."

Ernest ponders quietly. The whole table hangs on the silence in excitement. Finally, Ernest calls, "High."

"Ah, shit," Jack bursts. "Where did you study statistics and probability? We want you to end this game."

"No, Jack, I choose high." Ernest looks back at Kenneth, his countenance shining determination.

"OK," Kenneth acknowledges. A poised calm seems to envelop the room as the third card falls. When the queen of spades shows off her face, the whole table roars in climactic revelry. Ernest's smile grows ear to ear. The table cheers around Ernest, the champion of the night.

"Well, I'll be damned," Jack explodes in enthusiasm. "Now that's how you play cards, freshman! Put her there," Jack exclaims, holding out a hand.

Ernest grabs Jack's offering with enthusiasm. "Thanks Jack."

"Now, if you'll excuse me, but I got to go, really," Jill explains, looking a bit rushed. Cyndy calls after her as both women exit out the door.

"I think this deserves another round of cigars," Kenneth interjects.

"And drinks," Stephen exclaims.

"Sounds like a great idea," Ernest affirms, still smiling.

"So," Stephen sounds off, lighting his new cigar. "What are we going to play next?"

Without dropping a beat, Jack bursts, "Anything but posts and fences."

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APAGear II Archives Volume 2, Number 10 November, 2000