Gut Rumbles

May 18, 2005

more on gambling

When I was at Lake Tahoe a few years ago, I hit a hot streak at the blackjack table. I KNEW that I was running a string of cards, so I bet them. When I was $500 ahead (on a $10 table), the pit boss came over to watch me. When I was $700 ahead, the pit boss introduced himself to me and asked if I wanted anything to drink. When I told him "no," he just stood around giving me the hairy eyeball.

I think I ran my bank up to close to $1,000 before the cards turned (after the house sent about four different dealers over to ruin my luck) and I cashed my chips as a $600 winner. I didn't cheat. I am incapable of counting cards the way they play blackjack at Harrah's Casino. I simply cashed in on a streak of good luck when it came my way.

When the luck ran out, so did I, and I took $600 of the house's money with me.

I enjoy playing blackjack. The house has only about a 2% vigorish on you in that game, and if you realize that your are playing the DEALER and not playing "21," you can actually win a little money at that game. I did it in Costa Rica and I've done it in other places, too.

I've also lost my ass, and I have a $185 tee-shirt from a casino in San Martin to prove it. That's why it's called "gambling."

But it's never failed anywhere I've been. If you start winning fairly big, the pit boss comes over to scrutinize what you're doing. If he can't figure out how you're cheating, he'll change dealers on you. He'll offer you free drinks and have some very pretty wimmen start rubbing all over you. It's all an act of distraction, designed to make you lose. And I think the $500 mark is about where they start to become suspicious and kick their shit into action.

The house doesn't exist for you to take THEIR money. They want YOURS. You'd better understand that simple fact before you ever walk through the door.

But sometimes, the cards flow just right and you can beat them at their own game. Fair and square, too.


I always count the cards when I play Blackjack. When you start winning and the pit boss come's up and watches, he's counting the cards too. When you make a big bet when he figures you should they get all hairy.

I had one come up to me when I was $1500 ahead on a $2.00 table with a $200 max bet and ask, "You wouldn't be trackin' them cards, would ya?"

I gave him a confused look and said, "Tracking? What's that?"

The next hand I cashed out and called it a day.

Don't think them bastards won't try to cheat you too. I've caught dealers pulling from the under and in the deck.

Posted by: Daniel Medley on May 18, 2005 01:30 PM

Daniel, I try to keep track of the old "Aces and Faces." Other than that, I ain't worth a damn as a card-counter.

I was amazed by Ken Uston the other night when somebody tested his card-counting ability by just tossing 51 cards, one after the other, face-up, very quickly, onto a table. The guy then asked, "what's the last card left?"

Ken replied, "A seven. The seven of clubs, to be precise." And he was correct.

Now THAT'S knowing how to count cards.

Posted by: Acidman on May 18, 2005 01:43 PM

I like to play blackjack too. I don't count or track them, I don't get to play often enough to bother with that.

I just don't get greedy and play "sensible". Works for me, most of the time.

Posted by: StinKerr on May 18, 2005 04:56 PM

I was an amateur magician and thought I was good at spotting sleight of hand. I saw a magician in Sacramento who did close-up card tricks. He had no sleeves, stood just across the counter from me, and only had four playing cards.

He could place those four cards face up on the counter between us and they'd be non-face cards. Then he'd turn them over and have me turn them back over. They'd be face cards. I could handle and examine those cards both before and after the trick. His hands were within two feet of my eyes, and with no sleeve and no attempt to misdirect my attention, no other playing cards were in sight.

To this day, I haven't been able to figure that one out. Four cards, just me and him, I could examine them at will, no sleeves, no movement other than in his hands and face down on the counter.

Any guesses?

Posted by: Mark Alexander on May 18, 2005 06:53 PM

My guess: Magic.

Posted by: StinKerr on May 19, 2005 08:45 PM
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