The Game In The Windowless Room- Shel Silverstein

This is a transcription of a Shel Silverstein poem recited by Ricky Jay at the end of his autobiographical documentary, “Deceptive Practices”. I couldn’t find it anywhere on the Internet, which tells me that this poem was either written by Silverstein as a private commission, or that Jay wrote the poem himself. Either way, I thought it fun enough to copy from the film and put online.

The Game In The Windowless Room

Of all all the games I’ve ever played

Of all the hands I’ve dealt

Of all the pots I’ve ever raked

From matchsticks

to nickels

to untold wealth.

From the beckoning lights of the Vegas strip

to the Pittsburgh roadhouse gloom,

The most dangerous game I played with the man

In that locked-door windowless room.


His eyes were yellow as the golden crown

on the King of Diamond’s head;

His teeth were black

as the mustached Jack,

And his mouth was bloody red as the crimson gown on the Queen of Hearts.

And his hand was marked with the sign

That’s found on the hand of the Diamond King.

And he smiled

As his eyes met mine

And he said,


“What a shame,

I’ve been watching your game,

As you fleece these witless fools.

How would you do,

At a hand or two?

My game,

my stakes,

my rules.

A sealed room,

No windows, no phone,

An unbroken seal on the cards.

No watches or rings,

Or jaggedy things

That can clip or chip or mark

On a non-metal, clear glass tabletop.

No mirrors, no overhead lights,

With foot-thick walls

and just one door

that’s locked…from the outside.

For as long as it takes

For one man to break

Be it an hour

Or a day,

Would you dare take a seat,

When there’s no way to cheat?”


Well, what could I say?


So in the silent tomb of that sealed room

We both sat down to play.

Well, he was no Joker,

He was an Ace.

And although I was the King of this pack,

I knew that the lady would have to smile on me

If I were to win all his jack.

So we played for hours;

Or was it a week?

I lost all track of time,

And he won a few,

And he bluffed a few,

But the final pot was mine.


“Well, I don’t know quite how you did it,” he said,

As I raked in his last buck.

“But shaves, or seconds, or a frigid deck,

It had nothing to do with luck.

You’re a hustler, a sharp, a mechanic,”

he said,

“Now the real game’s about to start.”


Here he pulls out his knife,

And me with just this deck of cards.


“Ain’t it funny to learn

How the odds can turn,” said he,

As he thrusted

And flicked

And fanned.

But I dodged his blade

And my eight of Spades

Knocked the knife right out of his hand.


“Hell, I’ll beat you to death with my hands,”

he laughed,

And he raised a powerful fist;

But my five of clubs

Left a bloody stub

as it sliced his hand off at the wrist.


Yeah, he screamed,

And he pulled a gun from his boot,

“Last hand and the dealer dies,”

But my one last card- my Ace of Hearts-

caught him right between the eyes.


Well, that I might say

was the game of my life.

When the police

did finally arrive,

They found a windowless room,

A corpse on the floor,

The door

Still locked from the outside.

And no one there but him and me,

A classic locked-room mystery.

But where is the murder weapon?

They searched, but they can’t find it anywhere.

Oh where can it be?

They don’t look at me,

I’m just playing


About theoldsquid

Walking proof of the power of sublimation.
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1 Response to The Game In The Windowless Room- Shel Silverstein

  1. Michele says:

    Thank you for posting this poem – I have been looking for it too.
    Ricky Jay, what a great man.

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