Gambling isn’t scientific. Sure, its roots and the way the games today are built are mathematically quantifiable. Odds can be calculated, counting can be perfected, and edges can be made when you are a knowledgeable gambler. You can control your bets, take your chances, and use the statistics to maximize your payout not only in your win/loss edge but in the comps you can earn from the house.
But sometimes, in some cases, all of that flies out the window. Sure, gaming is often a grind, and those who do it often know that it’s all about the slow gain over the long game. But every now in the one the swing shows it’s head one way or the other. When it’s bad, you walk away (in my case, 10 hands lost in a row in blackjack). But when it’s good, when those stars align, some crazy shit can happen.
Over my birthday trip, I played my set amount for gaming, reserving the rest of my funds for the trip for delicious food and a nice suite to crash in and drink with my friends. But, aside from one night of good high limit gaming at the Golden Gate (where, by chance, I discussed the Downtown Grand’s debacle with another player) my trip turned out to be, from the one end of the valley to another, a total gaming bust. I would stay afloat, and then the rule of 10 kicked in. Over and over. I was a gaming pariah. The card gods told me, not so subtly, to fuck off.
My last night of four, after sending my friend to bed for her early flight, I decided to pull one last 100 out of my wallet and have a last throw at the tables.
I skipped looking for double deck, the hand shuffled shoe, or anything that I normally would have and saddled up to a $5 continuous shuffler table at the Golden Gate, where I was staying. The dealer was pleasant enough, the table was myself and surprisingly two gamers I had busted out with at the California. I threw down the hundred, got 20 reds, and started with a modest $10.
I won that hand. And the next. And the next. I started to get cocky, doubling my bet. Another winner, and another. Doubled again, and there’s a blackjack. I was winning every hand, even those where I was holding on 17 with a ten up for the dealer, who would bust. I kept winning, pushing my bet with my own system, and blackjacks started tossing in, which in a place like the Gate which still pays 3 to 2 makes a big difference. For a solid 15 minutes I lost perhaps 3 hands. I was in the midst of a heater.
Alas, I had been drinking crazily, and decided to take a break with the table mates who needed the same. Quickly we came back, continued…winning yet again. Could this be for real, could this keep happening? We never found out. Another rather rude gentleman came up who had been watching our luck and jumped in. I cut my bet back, lost, lost again, and then a third time. My new friends and I made eye contact. The heater was over, it was time to cash in the chips and head out.
When I finally saddled up to the cage, after tipping my dealer an extra $50 along with the nickels I had been tossing her throughout the run, I cashed out a grand total of $2225, $20 of which I told the ladies in the cage to split. I got some pancakes from Du’Pars, went upstairs, and reflected on just how quickly things can change in a town that’s built on trying to strip your wallet clean.
In the end, in a doughy haze, I remembered the most important thing about Vegas: use the house to your advantage, and when you have an opportunity…take it. Watch for the signs, bet right, and make a killing. In my case, 2250% of profit, including my initial investment. And that my friends, is what keeps us coming back.
But remember, responsibility makes the runs all the better. Learn how to take advantage of the win, and mediate the losses. Play smart, and wait tor the perfect moment, and let the cards fall in your favor.
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“The Travel Game”
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