Contained in the Viper Room: Hollywood’s Most Unique Poker Recreation

Jamie and Tobey had been all in, and I wasn’t certain which one I used to be rooting for. Jamie had virtually misplaced his bankroll, and as soon as he did, I wouldn’t be capable of let him play anymore. I preferred Jamie—he was sort and beneficiant. Tobey was the worst tipper, the perfect participant, and absolutely the worst loser, however I needed to fear about my job safety if he misplaced. I held my breath and watched Diego flip over the playing cards. Tobey received.

Predictably, Tobey stood up instantly after the hand that made him entire. “Properly, that’s it for me.” He came visiting to me and set his stacks on my clipboard.

“Whew, you’re fortunate I received that hand,” he stated, crinkling his eyes and utilizing his traditional half-kidding/half-serious/you-guess-which tone.

I nodded.

“You must lower Jamie off, you realize.”

“I do know,” I stated, counting Tobey’s chips.

He held a thousand-dollar chip in his hand. He flipped it over a pair instances in his fingers.

“That is yours,” he stated, holding it out.

“Thanks, Tobey,” I stated, reaching my hand out.

He yanked the chip again on the final second.

“If . . . ” he stated. “In case you do one thing to earn these thousand {dollars}.” His voice was loud sufficient that a few of the guys appeared as much as see what was taking place.

I laughed, attempting to not present my nerves.

“What do I would like you to do?” he stated, as if he had been pondering.

The entire desk was watching us now.

“I do know!” he stated. “Stand up on that desk and bark like a seal.”

I checked out him. His face was lit up prefer it was Christmas Eve.

“Bark like a seal who needs a fish,” he stated.

I laughed once more, stalling, hoping he would play the joke out by himself and depart.

“I’m not kidding. What’s fallacious? You’re too wealthy now? You received’t bark for a thousand {dollars}? Wowwww . . . you have to be actually wealthy.”

My face was burning. The room was silent.

“C’mon,” he stated, holding the chip above my head. “BARK.”

“No,” I stated quietly.

“No?” he requested.

“Tobey,” I stated, “I’m not going to bark like a seal. Hold your chip.”

My face was on hearth. I knew he can be offended, particularly as a result of he had now engaged the entire viewers, and I wasn’t taking part in his recreation. I used to be embarrassed, however I used to be additionally offended. In spite of everything I had finished to accommodate this man, I used to be additionally shocked. I had made certain I ran each element of each recreation by him, modified the stakes for him, structured tournaments round him, memorized each ingredient in each vegan dish on the town for him. He had received hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of {dollars} at my desk, and I had catered to his each want alongside the best way—and now he appeared to wish to humiliate me.

He stored pushing it, his voice rising louder and louder. The opposite guys had been beginning to look uncomfortable.

“No,” I stated, once more, keen him to drop it.

He gave me an icy look, dropped the chip on the desk, and tried to snicker it off, however he was visibly offended.

When he left, the room was buzzing.

“What was that?”

“So bizarre.”

“Glad you didn’t do it, Molly.”

I knew it was greater than a infantile tantrum. It had been a problem as a result of Tobey wished to point out that he was the alpha. I knew I hadn’t made probably the most strategic choice by refusing to submit, however I additionally wanted to retain the respect of the opposite gamers.

For the primary time for the reason that recreation started, I spotted that it may finish. So, in all chance, did Tobey. He had anticipated every part besides how a lot cash Diego and I had been making, and our take-home appeared to be consuming him up.

He started mentioning how a lot I used to be making much more continuously, not even attempting to cover his dissatisfaction.

“I believe the sport wants re-structuring,” he stated one night time.

“How so?”

“Properly, you make an excessive amount of and it takes too lengthy to receives a commission.”

I raised my eyebrows. In what different universe do you present up, play a recreation, win one million {dollars}, and get the verify inside every week? The one motive this recreation was nonetheless working was that I had searched far and broad to recruit new blood and preserve relationships in order that Tobey may take their cash. Now he had the balls to counsel that I determine a option to cap my very own wage.

I smiled at him.

“I’ll look into it,” I murmured.

“Thanks,” he stated.

Creator’s notice: In some locations, I’ve modified the names, identities, and different specifics of people with the intention to shield their privateness and integrity. The conversations I re-create come from my clear recollections of them, although they aren’t written to signify word-for-word transcripts. As an alternative, I’ve retold them in a approach that evokes the true feeling and that means of what was stated.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Vainness Honest

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the January 1998 challenge.

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