Gamer tales often as daring as the games
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI For Sun-Times Media
Gamers always like to share dos, don’ts and special memories about their best times at their favorite casino. | FILE PHOTO
When table games players take their seats, the conversation often doesn’t get any deeper than asking the dealer how long he’s worked at the casino or whether she deals any other games.
But unlike craps, which moves so fast there’s no time for conversation, card games such as blackjack, Caribbean Stud and Three Card Poker are paced so that sometimes the stories flow, and I’ve been collecting such stories for years. When something out of the ordinary is fresh in mind, that’s when the table talk flows.
Next time ... the odds
“I’d never played craps before,” a woman in her 30s explained as the blackjack dealer shuffled. “But I’d been losing at blackjack and I’m tired of the slots, so I thought I’d give it a try.”
“My boyfriend said it was a really good game. He taught me about the pass line and odds, and said it was all I needed to know and that I should just ignore everything else. So I bet $5 and the shooter rolled a 6, and I bet $25 in odds. The next roll was a 7, and I lost $30. That was too much. I can lose $5 at a time at blackjack and not think much of it, but $30 ... it
still hurts to think about it.”
“I decided just to bet pass and not the odds. It was my turn to shoot, and all the guys at the table started hollering about ‘Lady Luck’ bringing them a winner. My first roll was an 11, then a 7, so I had $10 back. Then I rolled a 4 and a 9 and I don’t remember what all. I was shooting anything but 7, and I kept winning my bets and I’d put another $5 out.”
“It never occurred to me to go back to betting the odds. One of the guys yelled, ‘You’re hot, honey, bet it up,’ but I was too nervous. Finally I threw a 7 to end my roll, and even though they lost that bet, the whole table cheered me.”
“I counted my chips, and I’d won $65. I was thrilled, but a man told me, ‘If you knew how to bet, you’d have won hundreds.’ He must have won a lot himself, because he gave me a black chip. That $100 was more than I won. I couldn’t believe it.”
Nothin’ like it
A 50-ish gentleman down to his last four red $5 chips asked a couple of blackjack players, “You ever play Caribbean Stud?”
When I said I did, he was into full storytelling mode.
“You know what I saw a couple of days ago? The dealer had three aces, and everybody at the table beat him. Five players, and every one of them beat three aces.”
“A couple of the fellas, they didn’t even know they’d won. They were betting on every hand without looking at their cards. The dealer had an ace up, then had two more aces face down. And these guys are moaning, because how often are you going to beat three aces?”
“But you know what? The first lady had a straight. Then there was a flush. Then the two guys who hadn’t looked ... one had a straight and the other had a flush. You heard me. Two straights and two flushes.”
“And me? You know what I had? Four Kings, that’s what I had. Four cowboys. That was $500 right there, and 20-1 on my bet on top of it.”
“You ever seen anything like that?”
By the book ... or not
The shaved-headed fellow in his 30s walked up to the blackjack table smirking, as if he was sharing a private joke with himself.
“Is everybody here playing by the book?” he asked cheerfully, grinning the entire time.
Another man chimed in, “I’m not sure everyone here has read the same book.”
Young Baldie laughed.
“I’m just having some fun,” he said. “You should have seen the dude I was playing with over in the other pit. He was dead serious. Not just about his play. He wanted to play everybody else’s hand, too.”
“It was like it was his mission to teach everybody blackjack strategy. He was correcting everybody. The dude and his girlfriend left, and made faces behind his back. She gave him devil horns from a foot or so away. At least I think that’s what she was doing with those fingers.”
“Finally, we got a full table where everybody seemed to know the strategy pretty good. I mess up the soft hands sometime, but I didn’t get that many, and I guess my plays satisfied him. He kept saying things like, ‘That’s the way to go by the book,’ and ‘Everybody playing by the book, just the way I like to see it.”
When he left, the Dude a few seats away from me said, ‘I’d like to take that book and hit him with it.”