Ben is cramming for his poker exam now, right as he walks through the door. Mike is telling him he'll be playing against T.J. Cloutier, who's won more poker tournaments than anyone else. Mike adds, "His motto: play the players, not the cards." Mike asks if Ben has any final questions. Ben sure does: "You know these players. You understand both the cards and the psychological side of the game. Why don't you play instead of me?" Mike tells him, "When I moved back to Vegas, I played poker -- a lot. I loved it. The sweet feeling -- catching a winning hand, the power, the rush. It was addictive. At first it was -- anyway, when I was winning. Then I started losing, going on tilt, forgetting the numbers, playing crazy. Chasing that sweetness. And it got to a point where I realized, if I didn't stop then and there, I might never be able to. So I quit playing poker, and I haven't played a hand since." That's about to change, my friend.
Sure enough, Ben sits down, and a few moments later, Louie comes in, talks some smack, then settles into his own paid-for seat. The real professional poker players at the table keep their heads down. Mike looks like he's just realized that all his training has been in vain as Ben sits there and tries not to look like he's about to pass out.
Meanwhile, Vanko is attempting to hold the audience enthralled with simple sleight of hand while some Vera wanker yells out, "We want Vera!" It would seem to me that by this point, you'd have gone into the show knowing Vera wasn't showing up, so staying rather than getting a refund would be a big, stupid waste of your time. Anyway, Big Ed watches the lackluster performance. Within seconds, Vanko opens a pyramid, and Vera pops out. She and Vanko enthusiastically greet each other in the time-honored manner of hacks everywhere, i.e. massaging each other's tonsils. This is where Sam, who's been standing in the audience, walks on over to Big Ed and asks what happened. He asks her why she's not babysitting some whales or poaching a few more. Oh, he does not. But he should. Instead, Big Ed tells Sam he took care of it. She gets an impish look -- the sideways-brushed bangs across the forehead help -- and asks, "You don't know how he makes her disappear, do you?" Big Ed replies, "Well, um, you know, she's laying there, and he first makes her levitate, and then when he takes the, um, I'm sorry. I forgot. I'm sorry. I was sworn to secrecy." You know, this "how does it work?" thing hasn't been funny -- not the first time it was mentioned, not the second time it was mentioned, not now. Sam gives Big Ed a punch in the arm, and they both grin. Awww.