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A Natural Born Gambler: Our story centers upon the activities of a Negro fraternal organization, the Independent Order of Calcimine Artists of America. [Inside joke: "calcimine" is whitewash, and yet most of these black actors appear to have darkened their complexions with blackface makeup.] The group meets in the back of a saloon. Their leader, Brother Scott, is a lawyer who disapproves of gambling-- although, after breaking up a poker game, he doesn't object to appropriating others' winnings. Our protagonist is lodge member Bert Williams, described as a "walking delegate," who is clearly in arrears with both the saloon's barkeep, Hostetter Johnson, and with the lodge itself. Early on, he is compelled to remit the dues he owes (three dollars), which he does reluctantly. [Some prints of the film omit the next sequence: After leaving a meeting with his friend Limpy Jones, who is handicapped with gout and must ride on Bert's shoulders, Bert passes a graveyard where he overhears two chicken thieves splitting up their takings, saying "One for you, an' one for me." He and Limpy are convinced that they have overheard devils splitting up their souls, and flee in a panic; Bert actually pushing the crippled man over in his haste to run away. Limpy makes his way alone back to the saloon and tells the others about the frightening experience. Bert, meanwhile, encounters the thieves on the road and pieces together what really happened. He invites the thieves to accompany him back to the saloon, where Limpy is made to look foolish. Then Bert and Limpy appropriate the thieves' stolen chickens, and eject the men from their company.] Bert attempts to win back his recently-paid three dollars from the club's treasurer in a dice game, but Brother Scott interrupts and forces them to depart-- meanwhile pocketing the money they left behind. After Brother Scott exits, a sporty young man, Cicero Sampson, flashes a wad of bills he apparently won gambling, up north. Bert, impressed, challenges Sampson to a game of poker. A lookout is posted in front of the saloon. Bert wins Sampson's bank roll and his pocket watch-- by cheating, with Limpy's assistance unfortunately, just at his moment of triumph, cops bust the place and arrest all the players. Brother Scott represents the group in court, and seems to have a very friendly relationship with the judge. The judge orders that the spoils of the game go to Brother Scott, as his fee. He orders Cicero Sampson to leave town within three days, and sentences Bert to ten days in jail. In jail, Bert dreams of a poker game he plays by himself, with phantom opponents. He cuts the invisible deck and deals.

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Ratings: IMDB: N/A Metascore: N/A RT: N/A
Released: July 24, 1916
Genres: Comedy Short
Director: Bert Williams
Actors: Bert Williams

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