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Patients are put at ease by his attitude of friendly concern; other doctors say his bedside manner is better acting than any you ever see on Broadway. Restricted to one role in his medical practice, he shows his versatility at the poker table, where his histrionics run the gamut from pathos to farce in his efforts at deception.
Drawing a card which gives him a full house, Ham frowns, mutters and clenches a fist in simulated despair. He may vary this gesture, snapping his fingers or waving his hand in a deprecatory manner.
Getting a lock, he registers disgust as he asks, "Do I have to stack them to catch a good card?"
Drawing a worthless card, he smirks and gives out with a "Zowie!"
Sometimes he varies the script by contriving an expression of joy over a truly fine hand, or an expression of sorrow over a hopeless one with which he intends to bluff.
The others in the group have learned to disregard what Ham does and concentrate on the arithmetic—all except the strongest ones who read him easily.
Like most tricky players, he thinks he can get away with murder often—he stays in too many pots and tries too many bluffs. He cannot accept the fact that others can also be tricky—he falls for some of the stalest ruses.
Ham says he is a little ahead at the end of the year. The others are of the opinion that he is substantially behind. He considers himself an expert.
Dealt by IRWIN STEIG Kibitzed by WILLIAM STEIG