Good morning readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.
During those upsy-downsey times when I was trying to squeeze out a living playing blackjack I picked my casino carefully. Only casinos offering the surrender option allows the player to throw out the blackjack books and stack the table and the odds in his own favor. It’s a cause for black looks and hatred from the other players, but deep suspicion on the part of casino security and pit bosses.
Surrender doesn’t exist in a lot of gambling joints. It allows players, once they see both their cards and one of the dealer cards, to take back half his bet and bow out of the hand. I’d spent a lot of time on the computer figuring out how to turn this into a slight, but significant bending back the fingers of the house advantage.
One day I was doing fairly well on third base at the Santa Ana Star Casino. I was wearing the high roller, and I always kept a few toothpicks in the hatband ahead of the feather for easy access during moments of contemplation.
My splitting 10s and not splitting aces at times, not at other times, doubling down sometimes, surrendering others, was working despite the fact it defied the traditions, superstitions and religions of blackjack.
I’d been there an hour or two when the pit boss came over standing beside me, watching. At one point he bent across the partition during a hand, close to my head. I thought he was smelling my high roller. But a few minutes later two security men came and stood with him, watching.
A couple of hands later two more security folks came and stood behind me watching the play. I didn’t change my strategy, kept getting as much money on the table as I could when the advantage was my way, surrendering when it wasn’t.
When the dealer finished the shoe the pit boss leaned over to me and said, “Would you mind taking your hat off please?”
I reached up and pulled it off, thinking he was admiring my high roller. He bent over and squinted, along with the four security guards. I handed him the hat and he showed it around, feather side up. They all squinted. Then one of the guards carefully took one of the toothpicks out of the band.
“They’re just toothpicks!” He handed it around so they all could confirm it.
He handed my high roller back to me and shrugged to the security men. “You can go.” Then he turned back to me. “Why do you keep toothpicks in your hatband?”
By this time I’d caught onto their suspicions and concerns. I was barely able to restrain myself, keep my humor dry. “Mojo.”
“Mojo. Three toothpicks brings me paired 10s and more blackjacks.”
Sneering, he shrugged and walked away. Surrendered and never knew it.