The scream came across the room, a crude but seemingly appropriate reprimand to whoever pissed all over the ladies room floor. I’m not sure why we’d all been using the ladies room, but we had, and it was a mess. The floor was a puddle and littered with paper towels. A sign hung above the open tank: “Please don’t put paper towels in the toliet (sic). Thanks, The Management.”

While somewhat interested myself, I was more caught up watching the beginning of a discussion between Mr. Jackpot and The Jester. Though they were being quiet, I could tell by the looks on their faces, the closeness of their chests, and the rapid movements of their hands, something wasn’t right.

I looked back to see my first ace-paint in an hour. Because I’ve been made to understand AJo is gold, I raised the straddle to $20. The player to my left min-raised. The player in the ten-seat who had proven himself willing to play any two cards to a re-raise, called. I, knowing full well I was behind, but hoping in one hand and puking in the other, tossed out my call, as well.

That’s when the screaming started.

Half the room followed the yelling and ran for the front door.

“Should we pause the action?” asked the re-raiser. I agreed we should, but said I wasn’t moving from my seat. One thing I like about this particular room is that the dealers are top notch. They are always calm, smart, and on top of things. I’m never worried about the game going astray. The dealer this night was no different. He paused the action, but kept his seat to keep an eye on the money and cards.

It was apparent that the discussion between Mr. Jackpot and The Jester had evolved into something more than a little dispute. I didn’t go watch. This would be the third time I’ve been witness to violence or near-violence in a poker room and I know the number Pragmatic Play one rule: Protect your chips.

Like most disputes, this one was finished almost as soon as it started. Mr. Jackpot, still steaming, walked back into the poker area. The Jester was apparently gone. And, frankly, that had me worried.

When the ten-seat made two little pair to beat my top pair, I didn’t even care. I don’t like people leaving an underground game angry, The Jester had apparently done so, and I said as much to the people around me.

“All it takes is one phone call,” I said, assuming everyone knew what I meant.

I’m not sure anybody heard me, because, again, something in the room had shifted. The testosterone-level was at its peak. In what is often a reserved poker room, players were battling in any way they could. Players with crazed looks and maniacal screams were clashing in a wild dance of doubles ping-pong, slashing the air with their paddles, dancing with each point, cursing at each loss. At some point, a free-weight bench had been put on the other side of the room and grown men were betting on how many times they could bench press 150 pounds. Now no longer in use as a poker table, the empty felt behind us became an arm-wrestling mat and players were testing their strength with the right and left arms.