Tag Archives: casino

Scaring the high-tech scarable

Three wooden toothpicks under the hatband forward of the feather leaning backward scares the hell out of them

Three wooden toothpicks under the hatband forward of the feather leaning backward scares the hell out of them

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.”

What?”

Mojo.  Three toothpicks brings me paired 10s and more blackjacks.”

Sneering, he shrugged and walked away.  Surrendered and never knew it.

Old Jules

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Thinking on your Feet

A friend and I were chewing the fat outside a car wash business he owns next to a convenience store in Las Lunas, New Mexico a few years ago. A pregnant woman who worked at the convenience store came outside and plopped down out of sight of the front door, smoking a cigarette, sitting on the concrete and leaning against the building.

We’d discussed this woman before…. a nice young lady with a life a person wouldn’t wish on anyone…. last time I’d seen her she was sitting in the same spot crying, which is how I came to ask my bud about her story. Anyway, seeing her brought her into the conversation again.

Most recent weirdness in her life:

The lady was  20 years old. She’d gone into Isleta Casino a while back with a friend, began feeding her paycheck into the slot machines. Now, it was illegal for this woman and her friend to be playing the slots, minimum age being 21.

So what happens? She hits a $5000 jackpot on the machine she’s playing. It lights up like Times Square on New Years Eve, making all kinds of commotion, people coming from all directions to see. She knows she’s going to have to show an ID to get the money. So what does this poor lady do?

She and her friend beat feet out of there, leaving the jackpot.

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is this: What the hell was she doing putting her money into a gambling machine if she couldn’t accept a payoff, supposing she hit?  Did she do some heavy thinking about this?

But, even so, she ought to have been able to get someone legal to accept the payoff and split it with her, thinks I.

But she knew she was breaking the law, and what do you do when you get caught red-handed? Why hell, you run if your knees are still good enough to allow it.

That’s what’s called thinking on your feet.  Thinking afterward what you done-already should have thought before-wards.

Old Jules

Frank Sinatra and Count Basie– Luck be a Lady