Saturday, October 13, 2012

Messing With the Deal

Since Mike is away at camp and Nick isn't feeling well, I found myself sitting in Nick's room in the dark as he fell asleep.  I kept myself occupied with Facebook friends for a while, but after I'd caught up with all the news that's fit to print, I played Scramble.  When I ran out of tokens in Scramble, I went to Blackjack by MobilityWare.  Now, if you don't have this game on your phone, you should.  It's a good game.  It mimics what happens at a blackjack table, minus the personalities.

Well, I like this app because I like playing blackjack.  I used to play it with Nick when he was learning to add to increase his skills.  I always let him be 'house' and I never made him play using his own money.  So with pennies, nickels, and dimes I'd stolen from Mike's bank, we played.   Nick actually had a gift for winning streaks.  It helped that he had rules to play by that usually left him walking away with two or three dollars of change and a grin on his face. 

As I sat in the chair by Nick's bed in the dark, I got a run of face cards.  I almost laughed out loud.

See, I have a lot of good memories of playing blackjack.  I have to go way back to tell you about this.  See, Mike's college wasn't far from Atlantic City.  He and his roommates used to go there to gamble a bit on weekends.  Then, after he graduated, he stayed in touch with the guys, especially Sam.  Once in a while, he'd meet Sam down in Atlantic City for a day or two. 

At this point, I entered into the picture.  I had played blackjack with my brother, but I'd never actually gambled.  These guys were the best teachers, letting me lose a bit, but giving me some good advice whenever I asked for it.  I loved it.

Thankfully, I didn't love it too much.  When I first started gambling, I knew I could only afford to lose $40 for the entire weekend.  We'd find a $2 table or, if we were brave enough to go into the skeevy joints, a $1 table. Then, we worked to see how long we could make our money last. Man, those places were exciting!  I had never sat at a table with people like this, people with few teeth, who didn't smell all that good, people who might feel uncomfortable making eye contact with others at the table.  Yet, there was something I loved about it, people-watching at its level best. 

Here's the truth.  I just wasn't that quick adding up the numbers, but the dealers were patient with me, sometimes even helping me if I asked for it.  Once, I sat at a full table with Mike and Sam standing behind me, ready for advice.  I swear, I got about twenty pair of face cards in a row.  It was thrilling!  The guys had taught me to leave a chip as a bet for the dealer while I was winning as long as I had my original cash in my left pocket.  This dealer had begun to love me.  We were betting together.  He wanted me to keep winning.

Suddenly, the guy to my left started to grumble.

"What?" I said, trying not to take my eyes off my cards.

"You should have split those face cards," he said, glaring at me.  And mess with a winning hand?

"Oh," I said.  I didn't have time to argue and I had all the advice I wanted with Mike, Sam, and the happy dealer.  I continued to play the way I'd been playing.  I had my original cash in my left pocket and I'd pocketed a fistful in my right.  I really thought I was doing okay.

"You should have split those face cards!" he said again, a little bit louder when the next hand turned up another pair. "You're messing with the cards I should have been dealt," he said, spitting a little.

"Oh," I said again.  I turned to Mike and tried to ask him what the guy meant. Mike whispered into my ear not to worry about what that guy was doing, just to keep playing and have fun.  A crowd started to form around us.  I wasn't counting the pairs of face cards, but Mike and Sam were.  So were a few other people.  The dealer kept grinning at me.  We were a good team, he and I, and we were winning.  I didn't need much advice from anyone with all the cards I was being dealt.

"Hey, lady!" the guy to my left yelled again.  "You're ruining my game here.  If you played the way you were supposed to, I'd be getting some decent cards."  Well now, it is the truth that you can look at the person who gets their cards before you and start adding up what you do or don't get as a result of how they play.  Honestly, I wasn't nearly advanced enough with the game to keep track of which cards the other players were getting anyway.  I just kept my eyes on my own cards and the rules I was learning and was busy enough with that. My cards were just lovely, I thought, as the next hand turned up a pair of face cards again.  I waved my hand to indicate I'd stay.  Who wouldn't? 

"Shit, lady, you're an idiot!" he said.  "If you knew what you were doing, we might all be winning," he yelled and stood up, leaning toward me.  He was creepy.  Wasn't it my business how I bet my hand?  I wasn't asking his advice.  He was in my face.  I leaned away from him.  Mike repositioned himself to be between us.  Sam took my right side and stood in close.  The guy sat back down, cursing so that I could still almost hear him.

With the next hand, there it was, another pair of face cards.  People around the table cheered a little.  The dealer grinned and said thank you as he pocketed another couple of chips.  I loved tipping when I won. 

"What the hell is the matter with you?" The guy stood up again.  This time, the dealer leaned slightly to his left and murmured something into another man's ear.  This man, a big man, went behind the dealer and came out where the guy was standing, yelling into my face.  He'd been yelling at me so much he missed that action. Then, my own personal bouncer grabbed the guy by his elbow, let him collect his chips, and escorted him away from me.  Everyone cheered. 

I went on to win about $280 before they switched dealers and my luck changed.  Lose two and get up, Mike had taught me.  It wasn't a lot of cash, really, but it paid for dinner and our hotel rooms and left me with a little extra money in my pocket on the way home.  What an exciting night!

Thanks for listening, jb

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