The Poker Game
written by Tabby

Tabby, Sugarberry, Tex, Friendly, and Fuzz (Friendly's cat, whom Tabby had insisted be dealt in after he jumped up on the table) were sitting around at the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe playing poker. Tabby was getting increasingly annoyed with each round because Tex seemed to be winning all of them.

"Pair of fives, yeah, yeah!" said Friendly, setting down his cards.

"Three tens." Sugarberry put hers down.

Friendly overturned Fuzz's cards and reported, "Two nines!"

Tabby slowly set her hand down and said smugly, "Four kings."

"I hate to say this, Tabby, but..." Tex put his cards down. "Four Aces."

"Jerk," Tabby muttered.

As Tex scooped up the pile of money on the table, the door to the Satin Slipper Sweet Shoppe burst open. A tanned and muscular pony entered the room.

"Who's that?" Tabby asked Sugarberry.

"It's Butch!" Sugarberry exclaimed.

"Oh, yeah, sorry, I forgot," Tabby replied.

"I'm here to prevent you innocent ponies from being robbed by that cheatin' scoundrel, Tex!"

"Really? Yay!" Tabby exclaimed. "I figured he was cheating!" She looked evilly at Tex.

"Take off your hat, Tex!" Butch commanded.

Tex, bewildered, took off his hat. And onto the ground spilled a pile of playing cards.

Sugarberry, Tabby, and Friendly all gasped.

After a long pause, Sugarberry declared, "I think it's a set-up! Someone else put those cards in his hat to make it look like he was cheating!"

"Yeah, yeah, set-up!" Friendly agreed.

"I dunno about that," Tabby said. "He HAS been winning all evening, ya know."

"Oh, Tabby, you're just saying that because you hate him!" Sugarberry said.

"Well, I'm not going to believe he's innocent until I see some proof!" Tabby said.

"Fine, then!" Sugarberry exclaimed. "Friendly and I'll get some proof that Tex didn't cheat!"

"Thanks for standing up for me Sugarberry, Friendly," Tex said gratefully.

"Come on, Friendly, we have work to do!" Sugarberry said, standing up from her chair.

"Work, yeah!" Friendly exclaimed, hopping down next to Sugarberry.

"Isn't it a little late to be starting tonight?" Tabby said, pointing outside, where it was nearly pitch black out.

"Well, I guess it is," Sugarberry admitted. "So, we'll start tomorrow."

"Very well," Tabby got up from her chair, too. "And while you're out searching for proof to make him innocent, I'll be out looking for proof to make him guilty!"

"Fuzz, come on, yeah," Friendly said to his cat as he started hopping towards the door.

Tabby looked around to see where Fuzz was. She spotted him lying down on the floor next to the ordering counter, poking his paw underneath.

"Oh, Fuzz!" Tabby giggled. She stooped down and petted him. "You won't find anything under there!"

But just then his skillful paw scooted a crumpled up piece of paper out from under the counter.

Tabby picked up the paper curiously. "Maybe it's something interesting!" she said to Sugarberry and Friendly, who had gathered around her. She had always suspected Fuzz was especially intelligent. "It's a receipt from some place called Loco Peso for a deck of Snake Eye cards," Tabby read off the paper. "Loco Peso? I've never heard of that before."

"That's because it's only located in Bolivia," Sugarberry said, looking at the receipt over Tabby's shoulder.

"What's Bolivia?" Tabby asked.

"A country," Sugarberry explained.

"Oh," said Tabby. "There's no one in Ponyland from Bolivia, is there?"

"Yes, there is!" Sugarberry exclaimed. "Butch!"

"Well, that's boring," Tabby tossed the receipt back on the ground.

"Wait!" Sugarberry snatched it back up. "That brand of cards! Snake Eye! Where's the ones that came out of Tex's hat?"

"Umm, I don't know," said Tabby, confused, as she couldn't figure out what Sugarberry was getting on to.

"Here's one!" Sugarberry picked a card up from under the table where they had been sitting. "It's a Snake Eye, like the ones on the receipt! And that brand is only sold in Bolivia!"

"So?" Tabby said, still not catching on.

"Butch would have HAD to buy the cards that were in Tex's hat, and he must have put them there, too!" Sugarberry exclaimed.

"So Tex didn't really cheat?" Tabby said, disappointed.

"Right!" Sugarberry said.

Tabby sighed.

Butch was still sitting at the table shuffling the deck of cards that they'd been using in the poker game. He laughed when her overheard Tabby's and Sugarberry's discussion.

"I admit that those cards in Tex's hat were mine," he stated.

"Bad Butch, yeah, yeah," said Friendly, frowning.

"Hear me out!" continued Butch. "I planted the cards in the hat for a joke. But while I've been sittin' here lookin' at the other deck, I've noticed some almost invisible marks on the backs of the cards, and I didn't do that.

Now it was Sugarberry's turn to frown. She turned to Tex, who was headed toward the door with his winnings.

"Tex, you supplied that deck of cards tonight."

Tex stopped at the door. "Okay, okay. So I marked the deck! What's the big deal?"

"The big deal is that you cheated!" interjected Tabby.

"So what?" scoffed Tex.

"So we get all our jangles back and you don't get anything!" Tabby exclaimed as she grabbed the money from Tex.

Tex grunted and walked out of the shop.

Then, Tabby, Butch, Sugarberry, Friendly, and Fuzz pooled their jangles and ordered pizza and sundaes.

"That went well," commented Tabby. "I mean, Tex is gone, plus we've got ourselves a party! What more could a little pony ask for?"

"I'm sure Tex has a good reason for what he did," added Sugarberry. "But I'm with you, Tabby. Let's party."

"Yeah, party!" echoed Friendly, and party they did.

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