((note: this is a joint post by Jasra and i.))
"What's the point in gambling if you're not willing to put something on the line?" Ryshana asked with a smile. Before Beryl could answer, Ryshana then said, "100 down and six on the side with five to go." (100 credits in the pot, six cards for a side deck, and best of five wins the game)
"You're on," Beryl stated as she picked out her side deck. Wanting to be a bit adventurous, Beryl picked out two +/- 3's, one +/- 6, 2 +/- 1's , and of course her lucky +/- 2.
Meanwhile, Ryshana had already picked out her side deck and was shuffling the cards. Setting the deck down, Beryl cut the deck and slid the deck back over to Ryshana. Ryshana then began to deal the cards. Beryl's first card was a 5. Ryshana's was a 9. Both of them took another card. This time, Beryl got a 10 which brought her total to 15. Ryshana got a 4 which brought her total to 13.
Before Ryshana dealt the next card, she used the Force to temporarily increase her speed and dealt Beryl the second card in the deck rather than the first one. It was a 4, which brought Beryl's total to 19.
In that instant, Beryl paused. Her hand was already poised on her side deck, ready to deal out one of her cards to counteract a different card. Instead, that card was dealt to Ryshana: a 7 which gave her 20.
"Darn! Oh well, you can have that round," Beryl said with a bit of a begrudging tone. She hated losing even if it was just one round.
Over the next couple of rounds, Ryshana randomly did the same trick of giving Beryl the second card in the deck to gauge her reaction. Each time, Beryl reacted identically: she was expecting one card value and got another. The confusion also took its toll on Beryl's play: Ryshana swept the series handily.
"Hey, I thought you were good at this sort of thing. Bad luck today?" Ryshana asked kindly.
Beryl thought for a moment. She couldn't quite figure it out, but she was starting to think that Ryshana was doing something to throw her off.
"I don't know. I guess my luck ran out for that game. Don't worry, though. It'll be back in this one. Let me deal this time," Beryl said.
Agreeing with Beryl, Ryshana passed the deck across the table. "Same game," Beryl stated as she picked out a similar side deck for this game. Ryshana did the same, but this time she knew that she wasn't going to have quite the same control over the outcome like she did last time.
As Beryl dealth the cards, Ryshana did come up with a different strategy to gauge Beryl: to let her play normally and compare the two outcomes.
This time, the series took all seven rounds to play with Ryshana winning yet again. This time, Ryshana was able to figure out why Beryl had been confused during the first game: she was anticipating the top card before it was dealt to her. It didn't have anything to do with her cheating: it just had everything to do with Beryl using the Force without realizing it.
In fact, Beryl's style of play wasn't all that differnt from Ryshana's, but there was one major difference: Ryshana could actively sense how the entire game was going to turn out in several different ways. It was a technique that few Jedi had bothered to master, but one that Ryshana had learned from necessity: she could figure out the order of the cards in the entire deck before the first card was even dealt. It was a huge advantage, and Ryshana hardly ever lost a game simply due to her knowing what was going to happen. For Ryshana, and Beryl to some extent, Pazaak was no longer a game of chance; it was a game of mathematics and skill.
Once again, the deck was transferred to Ryshana for her to deal out the cards in the next game. Beryl was almost incensed: she had never lost two games of Pazaak consecutively since she had learned how to play Pazaak back at the Academy. Finally wanting to speak up, Beryl then asked, "You're not using any of those Jedi tricks in this game, are you?"
"A little," Ryshana admitted. "But it's no different from what you're doing."
See the struggle of the faithless lot as they negate their time
How low to sink to the depths of their frame of mind