The Churchill Downs Socialite Club

by Dave Cinch

During a recent Horseshoe, Southern Indiana WSOP circuit event, the fellers were gathering for a $550 single-table when a horse of a totally different color walked up and took a seat. It was a filly entry, the newcomer was, and a frilly filly at that. Had she just been from Philadelphia, one could almost hear W.C. Fields dubbing her the “Philly Frilly Filly.” But she wasn’t from Philly; turns out she was from Vegas.

She was decked out to the nines: high society digs, diamonds galore, full metal heels, manners out the yin yang, blond on top…etc. The works. Think Zsa Zsa Gabor and you’ve got the picture. Well, up sauntered Daddy Carl, who hadn’t missed a day at this poker room since it opened 10 years ago – the very picture of a leather ass. And boy did he bite. “You look like one of those Churchill Downs socialites,” he offered to the alluring, out-of-place-looking stranger. “Are you in for the Derby?” The stranger just smiled her most Bambi-like smile while batting her baby blues innocently.

They were off in the satellite and it whittled down to, wouldn’t you know it, Daddy Carl and the blond filly. Heads-up for the seat in the upcoming 5K main event, the following hand was played, with the players about even in chips:

Daddy Carl raises pre-flop and the filly crying calls. Flop is A-9-8 rainbow. Daddy Carl fires and the filly insta-calls (trying to act fake strong to be read for weak, a good move for the repertoire). The turn pairs the nine and Daddy Carl fires again. A deliberate call this time from the filly. The river is junk, 3 off, and Daddy Carl unloads again. The filly insta-moved all-in over the top.

Carl called it and the frilly filly turned over pocket aces for aces-full. “Boat,” she said smoothly. She was running a cold-blooded setup move the whole hand. “Where did you learn that?” Carl asked. “At the Churchill Downs Socialite Club, Sir” she said cheerfully. “Nice to meet you, I’m Nancy Todd from Las Vegas.”

Holy Secretariat, you had to be there. Hearing that from the perfectly proper looking filly, the dealer, who was more than a little dry and normally jaded to such proceedings, fell out of his chair onto the floor and couldn’t get up. Nancy Todd, a.k.a. “The Queen of Diamonds,” had put him in some kind of conniption fit of hysterical laughing with her beautiful gambit and subsequent absolutely rocking repartee.

Daddy Carl complimented the Queen on the play profusely, and for the rest of the week every time he saw her he was excessively polite and respectful, like the southern gentleman he is. “How are you today, Nancy?” “Nice to see you, Nancy,” etc. etc. It doesn’t take a stepper like Daddy Carl long to wise up, but we all get to learn our lessons now and then.

The exacta for the single-table went up on the tote board: Queen of Diamonds over Daddy Carl, with the rest up the track. It’s one of the best sandbag moves pulled around here since Fast Eddie Felson traveled through for the Derby festivities some 50 years ago, acting like he couldn’t spell billiards. It’s treacherous out there, sports fans, and a horse of a different color ain’t necessarily what you put her on in the starting gate.