Bret is playing poker on a riverboat on the Missouri, with entertainers and dancehall girls aboard heading toward the gold rush out west. Madame Pompey comes over to watch as Bret plays Tony Cadiz, who calls Pompey's girls "harpies". Pompey takes offense, calls over her girls, and tells them that Cadiz is a dirty louse. She then reveals that Cadiz has a derringer hidden up his sleeve. Bret reveals his own gun under his coat.
The poker continues and Cadiz checks. Bret bets his thousand-dollar bill and raises despite the fact it wasn't on the table. Cadiz agrees but then raises another two thousand, and Bret says that he can get the money. He pins the cards to the table with his knife, asks a watching woman Coral Stacy to watch it, and asks Pompey for the two thousand to take Cadiz. She agrees to gamble with him, figuring she'll get $3,000 if he wins. Pompey and her girls gather around the table, and Bret calls Cadiz's hand. Cadiz reveals a full house, but Bret has four of a kind. Bret pays Pompey her money, and Pompey calls Battling Kreuger over. Krueger bends an iron bar to demonstrate his strength, and Cadiz says that he'll give odds of two to one in Deadwood for Krueger. Cadiz offers Bret a quarter share and Bret agrees to invest so he can play against Cadiz in Deadwood.
Out on deck Coral approaches Bret and says that she's a dealer and they should team up. She assures him that she has card savvy and as she leads him away, Krueger punches him unconscious. Cadiz takes Bret's money and thanks Coral, who collects Bret's $1,000 bill. Krueger tosses Bret overboard, and he wakes up and swims to a nearby small island. A man is there, and Bret realizes that it's a fellow gambler, Diamond Jim Buckley. Diamond Jim admits that a ship captain tossed him overboard after he caught Diamond Jim cheating. Bret realizes that his bill is gone and explains that he took Cadiz. Diamond Jim recognizes Coral from the description and explains that she's Cadiz's wife, and was robbed the same way for $7,000. He shows Bret a map leading to a spot near Vermillion where $40,000 in gold dust is supposed to be buried. Diamond Jim got it from a man who claimed he and his partner stole it from Wells Fargo. Diamond Jim found the man dying of a bullet wound and gave him $200 for the map, and he suggests that they split the money 50/50. He needs Bret to tow him to shore because he can't swim, and has a "bauble" that will make them enough money to buy two horses. Bret tears the money in half to make sure one won't abandon the other.
Bret and Diamond Jim ride the 400 miles to Vermillion and follow the map. There's a full-sized town in the meadow where the gold dust is buried. Diamond Jim claims that he didn't know a town was there and continue riding. There's a building on the gold dust site: a jail with a marshal inside. Bret punches Diamond Jim, and Diamond Jim admits that he knew the jail was there and there was no one else he could trust. He knows that Bret is trustworthy and strong, and the marshal locks up and leaves at 9. All Bret has to do is get himself locked up. Bret isn't happy at the idea and suggests they cut to see who goes to jail. Diamond Jim reluctantly agrees and loses.
The next day, Bret rides into the town of Whiskey Flats and finds the marshal and his men waiting for him. The marshal asks to see his watch, and Diamond Jim steps forward and says that Bret stole the watch from him. Bret figures that Diamond Jim planted the watch on him, but Diamond Jim denies it and the marshal takes Bret to the justice of the peace. He finds Bret guilty and locks him up for 60 days, and leaves at 9. Diamond Jim comes to the cell window and slips the digging tools through the window as well as smaller bags to get it through the bars. Bret points out that he's locked up for 60 days, and Diamond Jim explains that he'll pay Bret's fine in the morning and they can continue to Deadwood.
Bret digs up the gold dust, loads it in the sacks, and gives it to Diamond Jim. Diamond Jim wishes him good luck and leaves, and Bret chuckles and confirms that the gold dust is still in the original bags and he filled Diamond Jim's bags with dirt.
Bret pays his fine and heads out of town. Diamond Jim has found out that Bret conned him and catches up to him outside of town. Bret figures that Diamond Jim is no killer and Diamond Jim reluctantly lowers his gun. After giving Diamond Jim his share of the gold, he mounts up on his horse that Diamond Jim brought along. They ride to Vermillion and Bret goes to the sheriff. He turns in the gold for a 10% reward, much to Diamond Jim's disgust at only making 10% of his $20,000 along with a clear conscience.
As they ride out of Vermillion, the two gamblers are almost hit by a falling tree. The man who cut it down, Noah Perkins, apologizes and hauls the massive tree out of the way. Diamond Jim suggests that they put Noah up against Krueger. They go over and introduce themselves, and Bret confirms that Noah loves nature. He suggests that Noah buy the valley and protect the animals, and can get $1,000 by fighting. Noah doesn't like fighting even though nobody ever beat him. Bret and Diamond Jim say that Kreuger sneaks upon deer at night and shoot them, and Noah finally agrees to go with them along with his pet skunk Cedric.
The trio arrive in Deadwood and Bret tells Diamond Jim that nobody gets gipped, including Noah. They go to Cadiz's saloon, The Queen's Nugget, and Bret finds Coral dealing blackjack. Cadiz and Diamond Jim come over separately, and Cadiz says that he's bean cleaning up big with Krueger but given some away here and there so now he has a lot of friends. He advises the two gamblers not to make trouble because his friends might objects.
After finding Pompey, Diamond Jim and Bret go to the hotel where Noah is waiting. They tell Noah that Kreuger has a weak belly, but Noah is worried because Cedric isn't feeling well. Pompey feeds Cedric a raw egg.
Miners arrive and one of them wants to fight Krueger. Cadiz agrees and has his cashier, Jack Blair, hold the stakes. The fighter, Red McClendon, and Krueger get into the saloon's ring. Bret and Diamond Jim are in the crowd, and watch as Krueger quickly takes Red down. Pompey says that they have a fighter and will bring him in the next night, and she offers $10,000. Jack tells Cadiz that he knows about Noah because he's dating one of Pompey's girls, and he's learned that Noah is afraid of his own shadow. Cadiz takes Pompey's bet sight unseen, and says that the money is forfeited if a fighter doesn't show up. Pompey has Marshal Hunt lock the money up given the occasional funny business, and Hunt is glad to do it.
Later, Jack meets with Pompey and Bret. They paid him off to say that Noah is a coward and he agrees to leave town before the fight.
The next day, the miners bet on the fight. Bret discovers that Noah isn't fighting because he learned that Krueger loves deer. Diamond Jim and Bret say that Krueger is a thief, but Noah isn't interested in fighting without just cause and because Bret lied to him. Once Noah leaves, Bret admits that he shouldn't have lied to him, and Diamond Jim claims that he's thinking of the girls and the miners. He gets an idea and points out that Pompey never said who her fighter was so they provide a substitute... and looks at Bret.
The miners keep betting and Coral finally puts up the saloon to cover the stakes. Pompey arrives with Bret, and everyone laughs. Pompey says that she brought along Hunt as an impartial referee, and the miners side with her. Cadiz has no choice but to agree, and Hunt says that they're going to use the new rules with Buckley keeping time.
Bret and Krueger square off and Krueger quickly knocks Bret down. When Bret gets back up, Krueger knocks him down again. The gambler gets back to his feet and tries to keep away from Krueger, but Krueger tags him. The three-minute round ends before Bret is declared out. In the one-minute rest, he refuses to quit because they've got too much invested.
Back in the ring, Bret ducks and weaves but Bret finally corners him and knocks him down. Bret refuses to stay down and goes for Krueger's belly, managing to take him down. The miners now own the saloon and have drinks for everyone, and Bret figures that they'll sell it cheap to Pompey. Pompey and Noah are in love and she figures she can use her winnings to buy the valley.
Hunt takes Bret and the others to the jail, and the deputy tells them that he caught Diamond Jim trying to blow up the wall to get at the gold dust. Diamond Jim is in a cell, and figures that now they can collect. He insists that he was just trying to protect them all, and the only way to beat Cadiz was to take the money. Hunt says that he can hold Diamond Jim for 60 days, and Bret and the others go to collect the winnings, including Diamond Jim's... minus the $1,000 for Noah.
Written by Gadfly on Jun 24, 2019