The Delta Star had almost completed her run from St. Louis to New Orleans when Samantha Crawford won $12,000 from Bret Maverick, cleaning out not only his poker money, but his get-away money as well. By the time he arrives in New Orleans, he is penniless, and must rustle up a stake to finance his trip back to St. Louis, win back his losses and repay his benefactors.
The night before landing in New Orleans, Samantha Crawford tapped Bret Maverick in a game of poker. This required Bret to throw his get-away money into the pot. Samantha was charmed by the sight of the thousand-dollar bill, having never seen one before. Unfortunately for Bret, she walked away from the table with it.
In a hand of poker with Samantha Crawford aboard the Delta Star, Bret opened with at least a pair of queens. After the draw, he bet $200 on three queens. Miss Crawford tapped him for an additional $4,500, including his get-away money, calling her. Her three kings took the pot, cleaning Bret out for a total of $12,000 for the entire game.
Aboard the Stonewall Jackson two nights later, Bret sat down to another game with Miss Crawford. As she apparently did before, Samantha had all at the table to agree the game would be played strictly "according to Hoyle." Nearly seven and a half hours later, Bret had built his $5,000 stake up to a sizable amount. Then, in a hand of stud poker, Bret had a possible straight showing on the board against Samantha's pair of nines. She bet $500 to which Bret called and raised another $500. Kittredge called, Samantha saw the $500 raise and raised another $1,000. Bret called and raised another $2,000. Remarking the Bret sometimes bluffed, she raised him another $16,000, all the money he had left. Bret called and showed his hand, a straight, ten high, apparently beating Samantha's pair of nines. But counting on an obscure rule of Hoyle which disallowed straights in stud poker, her pair took the pot.
Samantha Crawford grew up in adversity. As a woman on her own from an early age in a man's world, she learned to manipulate men using subterfuge and her natural female charm.
Bret Maverick, always wary of subterfuge but not immune to female charm, was suspicious of her from the beginning. When meeting her in a poker game on the Delta Star, he noticed she was only targeting him in the game. She took him twice for thousands of dollars — once by trickery, albeit a legitimate rule of Hoyle. When Samantha explained why she went only after his money, Bret wanted to believe her, and offered to go into partnership with her in a scheme to help them reach a mutual goal. She agreed, but had plans of her own.
During the course of their partnership, Bret found he enjoyed her company. She made the long overland journey to Wyoming a pleasure. He remained suspicious, but tended to give her the benefit of the doubt. Always attracted to her, Bret came to respect but not trust her. Still, he secretly enjoyed the challenge.
Bret was looking for a place in Wagon Wheel to open the Square Deck. Big Mike told him Ma Braus had a place that might work, but he would probably be wasting his time talking to her since she abhorred gambling. Bret responded, "As Pappy used to say, 'Faint heart never filled a flush.' Point me in her direction."
After George Cross and Henry Tree caught up with Samantha, they made a deal with Joe Riggs to put Bret and Samantha's plan out of business. When Samantha told Bret their partnership was over, Bret remarked, "Samantha, you've just proved something my old Pappy used to tell me. 'Man's the only animal you can skin more than once.' Good night."
When Bret talked to Ma Braus about using her place to open an honest gambling house to compete with Joe Riggs' crooked Golden Bucket, she declared she had no tolerance for gambling or drinking. Bret told her that he never drank, and he only gambled honestly.
01. Maverick, According to Hoyle (1957), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
02. Maverick, The Savage Hills (1958), Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
AS MY OLD PAPPY ALWAYS TOLD ME: "Man's the only animal you can skin more than once."
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