The Path of a Hero - CardspielCardspiel

The Path of a Hero

by Edwin Osorio, translated from the Spanish

‘Where Shall I take you?’

‘The Hotel Tequendama’.

‘Was it a long journey, Sir?’


‘And what brings you to Colombia? ‘


‘The Gringos always come for business, love or medical checkups’.

The arrival of George Smith was scheduled for 5:30pm and hotel managers were willing to receive him as a god, it seemed that the ancient practices of the colonial period have been preserved to this day.

Foreign Tipping is a precious commodity, especially if done in pesos, the local currency manages astronomical sums and it is common for tourists to lose count, but Mr. Smith was a calculating man, and gave the young man who had helped him with his luggage a dollar and entered the room to organize his agenda.

Mr. Smith eclectically mixed his avarice with his penchant for gambling. He enjoyed the risk and did not give up on a challenge. He had come to the tropics to demonstrate his poker skills in the most rugged of conditions. Clandestine gambling is common in Latin America, but this was entirely different, to remain in the caste to which he was accustomed. George was a wealthy man, as the son of millionaire parents from an early age he knew his destiny was to manage the family business, never had his financial needs not been met. His bold moves in the stock market increased exponentially his inherited fortune, but the feeling of having not deserving his position still persisted.

When he began preparations to enter the epic game, he knew it would be impossible to remain the same after playing.  A select social group had been told the story by those who had passed the test and went home with much larger fortunes, although what was most important was that they had earned their place in the world. They say that man is a creature of habit, but man has a habit of non-conformity. For almost 80% of the population it is common to fantasize, to fight and struggle and work attempting to achieve a life of luxury or even to sacrifice to allow their children to have it. However, within the 20% of those who would be considered privileged, a considerable percentage are dissatisfied. Men who can’t find peace, but do not think to divide their wealth.

Thus was born this particular poker tournament, created for the disaffected, maintained by the restless and experienced by the ambitious. The rules were simple you had to bet all of your material possessions. Ten subjects originally participated in the challenge, there were currently 124 enrolled. As in most poker tournaments, there were different prizes for participants, it was not the same to finish at No. 100 as it was to be fourth, however, only ten individuals would continue being millionaires after the game started.

George knew the requirements and graphically considered the consequences of heroic victory or pathetic defeat. He understood the practical implications of possible failure, but longed for the ideological transformation of triumph. The contest was held in a third world country so the losers would be immersed in what would become their new condition.

The day had come, the inevitable fate of the hero. The dealer dealt the cards to the ten competitors. Mr. Smith looked at his hand, a pair of jacks, he was the big blind and all the participants had paid the minimum bet. He knew he had to make a considerable raise for the players with bad “hands” to withdraw, but his intuition told him to bet everything.

All In.

The action was not as thought out as the circumstances warranted for, however it was already made. Most participants withdrew, except two. The first held queen and 10 of diamonds, the second a pair of aces. A cold sweat invaded the front of George, the colours left his face and his imagination led him to see himself as a beggar, or worse, to work eight hours Monday through Saturday, as was customary in the country in which he lived, to earn enough to survive.

The flop came with a jack, a nine and a deuce. The two of diamonds was keeping the other hand alive. The turn was a queen of diamonds.  The game gave hope to all. Finally the river came  with a tremendous surprise, Jack. George Smith caught his breath as he picked up the cards, the feeling of victory was greater than any drug, and he knew several.

As the tournament progressed, George became more aggressive, he was playing  from a privileged position and knew how to use it. He raised the stakes when he considered that his opponents had average cards, the sums were so large they were rarely matched. His knowledge of poker strategies enables him to be offensive, because the timid players lose money with the antes and when they try to be aggressive it is already too late.

When he was about to reach the final table, Mr. Smith embarked on a high bet with a hand that barely supported it. He lost.  He kept his composure and a few chips. He changed his style of play, to one of literally clinging to his money, with no care about his appearances.  He was aware that a defeat would make him an ordinary, fearful, abject and servile person. At this time he could feel the fear of losing and squander everything that his ancestors had fought for: being different, superior, having luxuries that can only be enjoyed by the scarce few.

He made the final table.  He finished in ninth place. He kept his money, even increased it. He earned all because he had fought and more. He returned to North America, back to his business and his life; entrepreneur, millionaire, lucky, but the distance covered affected him like you never thought. The path of the hero was executed completely: He heard the call to adventure; he followed, crossed the threshold, passed the tests, died and rose again, obtained knowledge and would never again be the same.

George was not the same afterwards, in his eyes the seed of sympathy arose, he seemed to understand suffering. He’d presumed the causes of poverty to be lack of ambition and lack of cooperation. He realized that luck was a key factor in wealth, since it was a random action that an individual born in a particular place, a particular culture and education had access to certain information.

Mr. Smith was not heard from again shortly after returning from the business trip to Colombia. He sold his companies, houses, cars and other valuables. The rumours about his future are diverse, contradictory, but mostly uncertain. Some say he bought land in America and he farms, living off what he sows. Others argue that the money was donated to various foundations that seek to alleviate hunger in Africa. I just know his intuition told him to go all in.

Image Sea Eagle by Jim Bendon