The legendary naturalist John James Audubon spent his entire life studying, painting, and cataloging wild birds, but his work was incomplete because he omitted one important species: the railbird.

To rectify this oversight, I’d like to offer a complete description of the genus North American Railbird: its habitat, foliage, colors, behavior, physical characteristics, and distinctive sounds — everything, in fact, but its mating habits. That’s because the railbird is so busy trying to scrounge up money that it never can find time to mate.

A railbird’s habitat is a cardroom. It can be spotted lurking at the Edges of live Sbobet88 games or tournaments stalking its prey — anyone with money. A railbird can be identified by his shabby dress and empty wallet. He also has a distinctive pose: His hand is outstretched, his mouth is opened just a bit at the corner so that he can’t be overheard pitching you, and his eyes dart furtively around the room looking for the next potential philanthropist to hit on.

A railbird’s eyes are usually very puffy. That’s because a railbird Sleeps on average about two hours a day. Think about it. At 10 a.m. on a tournament day, you will find a flock of railbirds trying to talk their way into a satellite. At 7 p.m., the same railbirds are still trying to get staked in the tournament. Fast-forward to 4 a.m. at the final table. Besides the players, the only people still left in the room are the tournament director, the graveyard shift cleanup porter, and the same flock of railbirds waiting to fly to the winner.

Another sure way to identify a railbird is by the distinctive noises it makes. When a railbird is looking to be staked in a tournament, he always says the same thing: “This is my best game.” It doesn’t matter if the tournament is hold’em, stud, lowball, Omaha, razz, crazy pineapple, Chinese poker, pai gow, fan tan, pan, or steal the old man’s bundle. “This is my best game.” Now, this is not entirely untrue. Any game is a railbird’s “best” game because he plays them all the same: terribly. If he played the game that well, why is he asking you for money in the first place?

Looking to be staked, a railbird once bragged to John Bonetti that he had just won several thousand dollars in a tournament. When Bonetti, not unreasonably, asked why he didn’t play with those winnings, the railbird gave him a funny look. “Oh, I can’t use my own money,” he said.

Before a tournament, a railbird tells every potential benefactor, “I’m rooting for you.” After the tournament, he assures the winner, “I was rooting for you.” During a tournament, it depends. If Irving is the chip leader, all of the railbirds in the gallery are chirping, “Come on, Irving!” The next hand, Irving loses most of his chips to Ishmael, and now the railbirds start hooting, “Come on, Ishmael!”

Railbirds will often tell you that they need $20 for gas money. $20? This might be a reasonable sum if the railbird was flying his own jet. In point of fact, half the railbirds don’t own a car, and those that do sleep in them in the parking lot. All they need is enough gas to move their cars to a different parking spot every 72 hours so that they don’t get towed. It’s easy to spot a railbird’s car. It’s the one with a foot of dust and a license plate from 1988, the last time the heap was off the lot. I remember one time when a casino repaved its parking lot and four railbirds’ cars got asphalted over. The casino now boasts the world’s biggest speed bumps.

Another angle that railbirds have going for them is to offer to cosign your W2-G form for a percentage when you cash out in a tournament so that you can cheat on your taxes. Of course, if a railbird had won as many tournaments as he says he has, you’d be cosigning his W2-G forms. To be very technical, a railbird is not actually a real bird. True birds fly south for the winter. If railbirds did the same, you’d at least have a few months of peace during their absence.

There aren’t too many things you can do to protect yourself from the aggravation of a railbird. Ducking into a restroom when you see one coming won’t help. The railbird will either stand guard by the door or follow you into your stall — regardless of your gender. Cupping your ear and pretending to be deaf won’t do it either. The railbird will just hand you a card, printed in six different languages, that reads: “Can you stake me? This is my best game.”

You might try turning your pockets inside out to indicate that you’re broke when you see a railbird coming. However, a really aggressive railbird will then find someone to loan you money so that you can stake it. There is one tactic that might work. It’s based on the adage that the best defense is a good offense. When a railbird approaches you, before it can say a word, quickly ask it for a loan.

However, if all else fails, there is one sure way to send a railbird into such deep hiding that you’ll never see it again: Loan it some money.

Related Tags