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Cold Deck Recap

On the Fortuna, Lucky and Andamo are flipping a coin when former employee Jim Branco and his wife Ruth arrive. Andamo seats them and says that he saw Jim on the society page in his new position as club manager. Jim finally says that the pay is fine but shows them three marked playing cards. He found them on the floor of the men's bar after closing, and the members are in for nearly $60,000 each. One of the losers tried to kill himself, and that's why Jim is there.

Later, Lucky goes to the club and Jim takes him to the men's bar. Lucky doesn't spot anyone playing with marked cards, and Jim explains that the big action is at the poker table. The bartender, Dave Gray, comes over and says that he's been there 19 years. Once Dave moves on, Jim tells Lucky that Dave thinks he should be the manager instead of Jim. Nancy Ballard is there and Jim says that she's putting her younger brother through college. Len Porter greets Lucky as he goes to the poker table, and points out John Dort as the man winning. John complains that he got lucky hitting a straight flush and the others took off, saying that he got lucky. Len heads back to his office, and John challenges Lucky to play. When John calls him afraid, Lucky sits down and they play five-card high-card. John loses 1 to 4, and John pays off. He complains that it's not a real test and asks for another game, and Lucky says that it can be arranged. Lucky puts the $150 in a children's hospital donation jar and Jim takes him to his office.

Lucky assures Jim that the challenge was fine, and Jim says that John doesn't like to lose. He describes the other players and explains that the suicidal man, Steve Harrison, is off the critical list. Jim figures that he'd be replaced if he stopped the games, and what happened to Harrison is being called an "accident". John is on the house committee and he's fine with what happened. Ruth wants Jim to kill, but Jim figures that it's part of his job and he can't run. Lucky warns that thieves only quit when they're caught, and tells Jim to concentrate on how the cards get into the game. However, he warns Jim to be careful.

Later, Jim goes to an apartment. There's a dead man on the floor, bludgeoned to death. The battered Jim calls Lucky and tells him that he figured Dave was the accomplice. He went to his apartment and found Dave dead, and Jim is on the hook for it.

A short time later, the phone rings but Jim ignores it. Lucky arrives and Jim explains that the phone has been ringing constantly. They confirm that Dave was shot once at short range, and Jim explains that he got into a fight with Dave and Dave knocked him out. When he woke up Dave was dead. Jim thinks that he heard the shot while he was unconscious, and Lucky figures that he's innocent. Ruth knew Jim was coming, and Dave started swinging as soon as Jim accused him. From what Jim heard, Dave fouled things up for the last manager and Jim figured he was going after him before he found out about the marked cards. There's no sign of the murder weapon. Lucky says that he'll do what he can and starts to call the police, but Jim figures that they'll assume he's the killer. When Lucky calls anyway, Jim starts to leave and then fights when Lucky tries to stop him. Lucky punches him unconscious and calls Rovacs.

The police secure the crime scene and Rovacs finds the gun outside the window in a flowerbed. There are no fingerprints but it's registered to Jim. Lucky points out that a guilty man would have run, but Rovacs figures that Lucky knocked Jim out. The neighbor woman heard a fight after long after the gunfight, and Lucky admits that Jim panicked and he had to hit him. Jim denies having ever seen the gun, and Rovacs points out that it's registered to him. The manager says at the last he saw was that it was in his desk, but Rovacs doesn't believe it. Lucky insists that Jim is innocent but Rovacs books Jim on suspicion of homicide.

Lucky returns to the Fortuna and tells Andamo what happened. Rovacs arranged for Lucky to get a membership card at the club so he could do some digging, and Lucky needs Andamo to go in undercover. A disguised Andamo is soon working as a bartender at the club, and Lucky joins him at the bar. A guest, Reynolds, recognizes Andamo from the Fortuna. Lucky goes in to the office where Rovacs is taking statements from the staff. He hasn't found any marked cards, and Lucky figures that they were taken when the gun was stolen. The lieutenant suggests that Jim planted the cards to blackmail a big winner. Dave knew who put the cards in and wanted to get Jim fired, so Jim killed him. Of the players, Len was with a girl and John was in a board meeting. Rovacs wonders how the killer knew Jim was going to be there, and Lucky figures that the killer was outside the window and heard Jim call Ruth about where he was going.

Back at the bar, Lucky slips Andamo a deck of cards and Andamo says that a friend recently bought one of the waitresses, Nancy Ballard, a new car. Lucky then joins the current game and challenges John to another game. He asks for a new deck, and Nancy gets a deck from Andamo. He gives her the deck that Lucky gave him. Len excuses himself for an appointment, then asks Nancy for change for the telephone and tells her not to argue.

When Nancy brings him the change, Len twists her wrist and says that they had to lay back but she brought in the marked cards. Lucky comes out and says that he put the cards in the game to see who would run. He demands to know where Len was when Dave was killed, and Len finally says that he and Nancy were hitting the nightclubs. Lucky warns her that she's an accessory, and says that the state will give her a break. Nancy admits that Jim left and followed Jim, and Len makes a run for it. Lucky tackles him outside and manages to take Len out. Rovacs comes over and says that he figured Len was the killer so he let Lucky flush him out. Andamo brings Nancy over, and Rovacs tells Lucky that there nothing he could do because gambling is illegal. As he takes Len and Nancy away, Lucky assures Andamo that his disguise is good.

Written by Gadfly on Feb 12, 2018

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