I don't mean to be rude by disagreeing with the previous teacher's post, but she is incorrect. Tea Cake does not use the 200 dollars gambling.
Upon arriving in Jacksonville we learn that Janie has stashed about 200 dollars inside her shirt in case Tea Cake turns out to be a creep and she needs to get home without him. Call it "jerk insurance." She doesn't think she'll need it, but she has been reminded of a story about a lady named Mrs. Tyler who was ripped off in a similar situation by a chump named "Who Flung" who left her broke and far from home.
Tea Cake finds the money and is amazed by it (he's not the type who has a savings account.) He is really excited and takes the money, sort to feel what it's like to be a "big man." Once on the street he is overcome with the feeling of being a "rich guy" and starts spending the money like water. He essentially throws a giant party with free chicken and macaroni for all his work buddies. I don't remember the exact quote, but there was a funny line in this...Tea Cake says something about how his party will be full of beautiful girls and he will stand at the door and pay the ugly ones not to come in! He chooses not to invite Janie, who is, of course, upset, but the telling thing is that she is more upset that he didn't come get her for the party. She is in love with Tea Cake, after all, and the fact that he didn't come home was more hurtful than the fact that he'd ripped off her money.
The gambling referred to in the previous answer comes later, when Tea Cake says he will get all of her money back because he is a great gambler. It sounds like a line of B.S., but he actually does go and get the dough...(and a few razor cuts as well.)