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A Casino Odyssey: Part Two

By localroger in Culture
Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:04:13 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

My life was scheduled around casino tournaments. I had gotten the equivalent of almost a $10,000 raise by turning entertainment expenses into a small income using techniques similar to those revealed in this book. I had dozens of new, interesting friends. I could look at a rack of casino chips from five feet away and nail its total value within five bucks in seconds. I knew every single bet and payout on the Craps table. And my friend X was about to make my life really interesting.

This is part two of a four-part story.
In case you didn't see the first part, it's here.

One thing about being a smart gambler is that you quickly find out you are rara avis.

Innoculated against the ravages of gambling addiction by my early instructive losing streak, I was mystified when Y pumped a nice $500 win into a $25 slot machine because "my luck has been so good recently." This is someone who has an advanced degree in physics! And X, who had studied the math (not really complicated stuff, it's all basic algebra and statistics) until he could bore you for hours with the effects of a rule change or strategy variation on your Expected Value (EV), couldn't seem to avoid getting wiped out in tragic negative swings. Back to work, at least for a couple of months, back to the tables, oopsie, back to work...

I prosyletized. Many of my friends and coworkers gambled, and they found my success interesting. I made no secret of how to get the best edge, work the comp system, and parlay the tournaments into a win.

The most common response was: "Well, I really like to play the slots."

I can readily tell you the number of Normals who saw what my friends and I accomplished and took even a tentative step toward duplicating it. Not succeeded, but tried. It was zero, out of hundreds.

And then there were the folks we played against in the tournaments. Nice people, generally intelligent people, but prone to do the most amazingly ill-thought-out things in situations that were worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. We laughed and joked and of course much of the thousands of dollars a year I was taking home were coming out of their pockets. At times I got a bit weirded out by that.

Basic Strategies

Every casino game of skill has an optimal strategy which can be determined mathematically or by computer analysis. You always lose the least in the long run by playing this "Basic Strategy," no matter what might happen to happen on an individual hand. Thus, you always hit 16 against a dealer 10 at Blackjack. Yes, you'll probably lose; in a statistical sense you've probably lost the hand already. But computer analysis shows you will lose less if you take the hit and risk busting.

If you're playing correctly there really are no decisions to make, but almost nobody plays correctly. The theoretical house edge at most casino Blackjack games ranges from 0.1 to 1.5 percent or so depending on the rules. But the actual take is typically 2 to 5 percent. This reliable gap is entirely the result of incorrect play. (This EV is in terms of "action," the sum total of all bets made. The "hold," loss figured against only the "drop" gamblers buy-in for, is another matter entirely.)

Occasionally this preponderance of poor play encourages a casino to do something really stupid. One promotional idea which emerges infrequently is the "2 to 1 Blackjack" game where natural 21 pays 2:1 instead of 3:2. Most players still face a loss, but the perfect Basic Strategist sees the edge the casino usually expects to see, about one percent -- without counting cards.

The Boomtown Belle, one of the "me, too" riverboat casinos legalized in Louisiana, was desperate to get people on their boat during the legally required 1.5 hour cruises. In September of 1995 they decided the solution was 2:1 Blackjack, up to two hands of $25. X and Y literally scraped together all the money they could lay hands on and showed up. (I was now working full-time, and was unable to go with them.)

At first they nearly lost their stake of $1,200 because they were really betting too much and had early bad luck. But then they won $14,000 over the next 9 days in about 30 hours of play. At which time the casino became tired of their action and invited them to leave.

Card Counting Finally Succeeds

X was pretty much an expert on the mechanics of card counting. It doesn't work like the scene in Rain Man.

It's all in the faq.

X played smart. I watched him play and I knew exactly what he was doing wrong. Hell, he even knew what he was doing wrong on an intellectual level but he didn't really believe it.

When you are playing with an advantage, there is a calculation called "risk-of-ruin". It tells you that if you have such bankroll and bet at so level, you will have hmmmm chance of losing all your money before you double it. Card counting is high-variance; you are literally waiting for opportunities to bet (high counts). You can still lose those high-count bets. As a very vague rule of thumb you need about 100 big bets in your bankroll to count cards. X was playing with more like 20 big bets, if that. His advantage couldn't overcome his risk of ruin.

X lost his share of the Boomtown Belle $14K and went back to another work, quit, lose-stake cycle. In May of 1997 the Jubilee (now relocated in Greenville, MS) decided a 2:1 promotion was the way to lure monied gamblers to a dumpy burg located at the most inconvenient possible point between Jackson, MS and Memphis, TN. Most of the monied gamblers who showed up knew how to beat the promotion and it only lasted a few days, but X and Y made off with almost $10,000. Not long afterward the Lighthouse Point, also in Greenville, got the same bonehead idea and yielded several thousand dollars more.

Time to quit the job again, time to...

...call me, as it turned out.

I spent the next few weeks fielding calls from X. He was actually going over the risk-of-ruin calculations to convince himself they weren't bullshit. After some algebra refreshers and a quick course on QBasic, he built some simulations and did some figuring and convinced himself. He dutifully went to the soon-to-close Flamingo Hilton and started playing a modest $5-$25 bet spread. It was a fortunate choice, because a bureaucatic screw-up of titanic proportion had lost them their gaming license, and the lackluster staff at this doomed boat were in no mood to protect Hilton's already-lost investment against X's faint probing.

When counting cards, you make the money by betting small when they have the edge and high when you do. The count tells you this; each card has a point value, negative or positive. When the count is positive the deck is rich in tens and the odds favor you; you bet more. When it's negative the deck is rich in fives and sixes. The dealer is less likely to bust, you're less likely to get dealt good natural hands. You reduce your bet or go to the bathroom.

The gap between your smallest and largest bets is your "spread." It's also how you get caught. While the count does tell you to play some hands contrary to Basic Strategy (you stand on 16 against 10 in high counts, for example) this strategy variation isn't enough to beat the game. You have to spread your bets, and the more you spread the more you win. And the more noticeable your play is.

In February 1994, when he had been playing with red chips and losing anyway, X had been "backroomed" by [censored]. Security guards literally dragged X into a back room, took his picture, and read him the Trespass Act. But the lackluster staff at the Flamingo gave him an excellent game and once he'd built up his bankroll he found himself still able to play at some other properties.

As 1997 rolled over into 1998 he parlayed his modest stake into $80,000. But in that course he was kicked out of every casino on the Gulf Coast. His big bets were now in the $100 black chip range, and everybody knew he was a counter from his losing days. Once he began to win, he was shown the door, although usually with more politeness than [censored] had shown.

"Ah, Mr. X. We must contratulate you on your really excellent play. Yes, we have noticed that you are very, very good. In fact, you're really too good for us. You're welcome to play any of our other games, but we really can't offer you a Blackjack game any more."

X now had a bankroll but couldn't play. We could play, but had no bankroll. X knew we could be trusted to play by the agreed strategy (as we had in so many tournaments) and to account properly for the money (as we had in so many tournaments and as Y had in the 2:1 promos.) He called and offered a deal: If we played for him we could keep half the profit. I didn't have the time, but Y weighed half the win against none of the risk and decided it was a no-brainer.

Y was no card-counter; we knew the theory but with no bankroll had had no reason to drill the ability to actually maintain the count. There is a large gap between knowing that tens are -1 and sixes are +1 and being able to count up and down as cards are dealt in a live game. Y drilled with the computer for about a month, an hour or two a day, then after favorable testing by X entered a casino with several thousand dollars of his money. Y was nervous but X pronounced the results acceptable and Y continued to play. Known as the cheapskates that we were, we covered the story of our newfound "wealth" with a white lie about an inheritance. Since I didn't have the time to do the drills or play enough to make it worthwhile, when I accompanied Y we covered my own continued cheapness with vague hints that I was worried about Y's incipient gambling addiction.

It worked like a charm, and before long we were being wined and dined like royalty. At least, until our hosts figured out what we were doing...

Continues in Part 3: The American Dream?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


I think card counting...
o Can't beat the game 20%
o Is only possible for geniuses 10%
o Will get you barred forever 34%
o Is illegal 1%
o is great, it made me rich 16%
o What's card counting? 16%

Votes: 55
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o in this book
o here.
o faq
o Part 3
o Also by localroger

Display: Sort:
A Casino Odyssey: Part Two | 29 comments (25 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hmmm (3.00 / 4) (#2)
by halo64 on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 07:33:25 PM EST

Reads like a HST story only without all the drugs and weirdness. I like it.

/* begin sig here
I don't have one because I'm lame
finish sig here */

Have a Lucky Day (4.00 / 5) (#5)
by Speare on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:28:27 PM EST

This is an awesome writeup, but not for any wholesome interest, but rather, it has that gruesome roadkill fascination aspect. Watching someone who stands on the yellow line, just a matter of time before that sickening thud of hubris meeting the real world.

Morphine had a song I enjoy, "Have a Lucky Day."

    Sure I'm down a little,
    in fact I'm down a lot.
    I'm on a roller-coaster ride that I can't stop.
    Yeah, my luck has changed,
    but it should come back,
    that's the beauty of a game of chance.
    I can't lose forever,
    but I'm doomed to try,
    'cuz I keep on hearing that voice inside:

    Players win, and winners play... have a lucky day.

Many people are compulsive at many things, and for whatever reason, remain productive members of society. To me, fishing with the latest high-tech gear or collecting Coca-Cola memorabilia seem like such wastes of money, but hey, spend it on what you want to spend it on.

Gambling's sorta in the same boat, but it has all the negative aspects of religion and all the negative aspects of compulsive hobbies, all rolled into one, for me. The story even used that word--proselytize--which is reserved for religions who want to tell you that you're wrong for not believing in something. "Here, believe me, I'm different. I can calculate the odds. I'm infallible."

Do whatever you want to do, it's just an entertainment as they say, but (1) don't invite me to go throw money away, and (2) don't ask the government to bail you out when you can't make your marker.
[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]

Amazing (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by Aphexian on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:03:48 AM EST

I love this series, and I had that song going in my head since the first installment.

So much so, I had to put it on as I was reading this article.

[I]f there were NO religions, there would be actual, true peace... Bunny Vomit
[ Parent ]
Interesting choices (3.33 / 3) (#6)
by _cbj on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:38:20 PM EST

From my limited understanding, unless you're playing these tournaments, there aren't many known ways to win. Card counting for blackjack, semi-mythical shoecomputers for roulette - both of which, upon discovery, get your arse kicked. Perhaps literally. But then there's poker, which also has tournaments, but usually consists of beating your fellow man for all he's worth, the casino only taking a rake.

So I have to wonder, highwayman style, when there exists in the same room a profitable game of skill that won't get you a reputation, if it was the money or the life?

It was the life (3.33 / 3) (#7)
by localroger on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 08:48:37 PM EST

So I have to wonder, highwayman style, when there exists in the same room a profitable game of skill that won't get you a reputation, if it was the money or the life?

Remember, I mentioned toward the beginning of Part One that we all knew X was a gambling addict. I don't want to spoil the rest since people seem to like it, but this is an interesting question which I'll probably address in a comment to Part Four.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Don't play the house (4.00 / 2) (#12)
by NoBeardPete on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 11:36:00 PM EST

There are plenty of ways you can gamble, keep a good edge, and not have the casino bust your ass. Don't play against the house. Look for something where you're competing with the other gamblers, and the casino always gets its cut regardless. If you're competing against the rest of the slack jawed gambling population, it shouldn't be as hard to come out on top.

Races are a decent example of this. I've gone to both dog and horse race tracks a couple times, and have always come out in the black. This is admittedly a small sample size, but it's worked for me. At race tracks I've been to, they always distribute booklets that have info about what horses (or dogs) are competing in which races, and how they've done for their last several races. By making informed bets based on this info, I've had good luck competing against the other gamblers, who seem to make their bets more or less at random.

Poker is another good example - if you get to be really good, you can make a lot of money. The casino doesn't care, because they still get their cut, and you can fleece the other customers to your heart's content. However, as you're competing directly with a small number of people, instead of with the average bets of the whole establishment (as you would at a race track), it's easier to run up against someone better than you and get burnt. Also, getting good at poker is harder.

Anyway, that's the basic idea. Don't compete against the house. Compete against the other gamblers. These are the games where you can get a good advantage and not get booted.
Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Sport (3.00 / 1) (#23)
by _cbj on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 10:00:39 AM EST

I make pretty good profits betting occasionally on football and snooker, being sports I liked already and often find myself better informed than the bookmakers, but horses and dogs never grabbed me. Perhaps because they only exist for the gambling, which I suspect I'm healthily disinterested in. And I'd worry about the effort required to get an edge. My dad is a semi-professional gambler on horses; he has four bookshelves crammed with these monstrous form guides, spends a load of time refining prediction software, and makes about 8%. Cool that it's possible, but not my kind of life.

[ Parent ]
+1 FP, But... (2.83 / 6) (#8)
by SPrintF on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:06:01 PM EST

This is well-written, but than most of the articles submitted here.

But I hope there's more to this story than "and then we lost our shirts." Because, really, if you're old enough to enter a casino, you really ought to understand that the house always wins.

Dr. BlackJack (3.75 / 4) (#9)
by slaytanic killer on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:20:17 PM EST

Does anyone know about Dr. BlackJack from the Microsoft Entertainment Pack? That game used two to four decks, and taught how to count cards.

I was disturbed at the time, because I was able to win heavily over the long run (by changing the spread depending on the card counts) and I suppose they skewed the "randomness" to favor the player? The rules and payouts themselves seemed to favor the house. Many games have the "illusion of losability" if you play soundly, and this could be true here.

Blackjack Software (5.00 / 6) (#11)
by localroger on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:56:36 PM EST

One could write a much longer article than A Casino Odyssey just on the topic of Blackjack software and literature. Please, oh please, do not believe the results you obtain from a single offering, particularly one from a source with no reputation in the field such as Microsoft.

There are excellent programs such as Casino Verite and the Universal Blackjack Engine which have a strong reputation among people who study the game to the exclusion of all else. There are also some fine shareware DOS blackjack programs that will drill you on the count or perform analyses.

For reference, there are three major classes of blackjack software:

  • Drill software to learn the mechanics of counting
  • Statistical analyzers that let you set up rules and conditions and then play billions of hands to determine your expectation
  • Combinatorial analyzers that let you set up rules and conditions and then thoroughly explore the tree of all possible hands to determine your expectation
Back around 1995 someone posted to rec.gambling.blackjack what I still think is the finest advice ever offered on the subject of blackjack software: Write it yourself. If you didn't, and you have any reason to suspect the results, then get a different program and see if the results agree. And remember, the "long run" is a lot longer than you may think. If you haven't played at least several hundred hours, you're nowhere near it.

I don't know what the most recent offerings are but if I were curious, I'd go to rec.gambling.blackjack.moderated or bj21.com and ask. And I'd take the responses with one of those blocks of salt they sell for your cow to lick until I'd satisfied myself that any particular program seems to be both honest and competently written.

IME the best blackjack software is written by people who play the game. It's virtually impossible to judge the quality of such software unless you play the game and know how to program too. The most useful software I've seen is either very expensive or shareware/freeware; the middle stuff pumped out by corporate droids is either lame or worse than useless.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

std deviation, and fun (4.57 / 7) (#10)
by mattw on Fri Jul 20, 2001 at 09:34:43 PM EST

Several friends of mine and I have been, at times in the past, avid gamblers. Other than some trips to the monoply quarter slots for amusement, we strictly play blackjack. I'm the only person who has even mastered basic strategy; most people don't want to spend the time, even if presented with the fact that it will cost them hundreds of dollars to makes mistakes, averaged over time.

In any event, one of my friends mentioned a statistic, which I'll pass on in mangled form. It was: "If you're counting using system X, betting $25 base hands, then your expected gain i s $340 per house, with a standard deviation of $6700". That will give you an idea of how insanely up-and-down blackjack is. The tale is very accurate -- betting over your bankroll is definitely a key to downfall, and your maximum bet should be 1%.

I've always had fun playing. I'm a sort of lazy counter -- after a great deal of practice, I can pretty much do it on the fly. I can look at up to 4 cards, usually, and modify my count by their total. I'm using the simplest of counting methods (the traditional "up-down", which counts 2-6 and 10-A, and leaves 7-9 neutral.) In any event, I generally look for games where the house edge is not more than .35%, preferably less (that's generally single deck with DAS in reno, or double deck with all the fixins' in Vegas). Then I'll count a smidge. Counting is as much art as science, because your goal is not only to increase your odds, but to avoid being kicked out of the casino (which I've never experienced, but runs very close to the "Sir, your play is too strong for us, want to try a slot?" mentioned in the article). I'm comp'd out the wazoo -- so I'm getting a free room, free meals, etc. The goal: maintain ANY edge over the casino without being called as a counter. To that end, it helps to play with friends, be loud, jovial, seem distracted, etc. The most important, of course, is to minimize the bet swings. Of course, that severely limits the effectiveness of your system, but if you are relatively cunning in your methods, it helps to avoid detection. For example, I generally do not bet a 'minimum' amount to start, both because I want to be able to drop my bet, and because I want my comp value to be set higher, and most pit bosses tend to set your initial value on whatever they see you bet as you buy in. When losing, I will sometimes cut my bet. When winning, I will sometimes up my bet -- sometimes as much as "letting it ride", which would be doubling the bet by adding the whole of the winnings to the bet. Obviously, with a constantly fluctuating bet, it becomes more difficult for a casino to determine if there is a method to your madness. Additionally, I don't always count. When not counting, I tend to bet the lower end of my scale, and minimize my fluctuations (while still playing basic strategy). This is best for times when I want to play and do something you should never do while gambling -- like drink, or actually just have fun.

Over the time I've been gambling, about 4 years, maybe averaging 3-4 trips a year, I've managed to stay even, the goal to begin with. That's not counting comps, which are what make the whole thing worth it in the first place -- breaking even with free hotel, food, etc, is better than just breaking even and paying for the privelege. All in all, it's exciting, a potential waste of money if you're not very disciplined, and not very profitable, since any profits you make tend to make the house more suspicious, and you won't last long then (as I'm sure we'll learn in part 3).

[Scrapbooking Supplies]
This is really good... (4.00 / 6) (#13)
by Giant Space Hamster on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 12:15:02 AM EST

You know, you might be able to sell this to a magazine (or something online, like Salon, if they have money).

Looking forward to the next chapters.

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
-- Bertrand Russell

Hopefully not (4.33 / 3) (#15)
by Aquarius on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:37:32 AM EST

I'm glad this is being posted here. It's the sort of article I'd expect to see in a magazine, by which I mean it's clear, lucidly written and interesting. We need more articles like this at K5 :-)


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
Oh, and the money aspect (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by Aquarius on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:39:58 AM EST

I'm trying to decide whether part 4 is going to say, "...and I don't need to sell this to a magazine because I am now very rich", or not. :)


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
most entertainining it is (2.00 / 1) (#18)
by naru on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:10:44 AM EST

Indeed, this is surely the most entertaining article I've read on K5 up until now. I'm really looking forward to the next two parts.

[ Parent ]
He should ALSO send it to a local mag (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 03:53:05 PM EST

I'm glad this is being posted here. It's the sort of article I'd expect to see in a magazine, by which I mean it's clear, lucidly written and interesting. We need more articles like this at K5

Agreed, more of this at K5 is a Good Thing, but why couldn't (or shouldn't) the author also submit this to a local paper or magazine? Here in San Diego we have a local paper called the San Diego Reader, which posts articles like this. So, on the Web, it should be here and here only <g>, but I also think that it is good enough to be in print.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Exclusivity (3.00 / 1) (#29)
by Aquarius on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 06:27:20 PM EST

Don't magazines have some kind of exclusive publishing rights deal or something? Certainly I'd be surprised if you could get paid for an article that everyone in the world can already get for free...?


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
card shuffling? (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by jcolter on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 02:32:43 AM EST

How do you count cards if the dealer shuffles frequently? Is there a rule governing shuffling? It seems to me that if they suspected you were counting they could reshuffle and your count would be wiped out. Or by the same token why not use eight decks instead of four? Just curious.

You don't. (4.50 / 4) (#21)
by localroger on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:46:07 AM EST

How do you count cards if the dealer shuffles frequently?

Short answer: You go to another casino where the dealer doesn't shuffle as much.

One of the most important things to a card counter is the penetration, or fraction of the shoe which is dealt before shuffling. The relatively minor difference between 85% and 75% can mean the difference between a game that is playable and one that is not.

Now I can hear you asking, "why would any sane casino offer a beatable game if they can make it unbeatable so easily." That's a good question, and I've often wondered myself. In Atlantic City, where it's illegal for casinos to bar card counters, playable games are all but unheard of.

But shuffling eats time. While you watch the dealer shuffle, you are not gambling; and this reduces the casino's profits. I would personally think a little shuffle-time would be cheaper than the investment in Griffin Agency services, maintenance of blacklists, training of personnel, risk of pissing off bona fide losers, and liability problems that come with the fight against card counters; but then I don't own a casino.

All I can say is that I have seen casino personnel do some incredibly stupid things, and chasing counters instead of shuffling falls in that category.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Well, yes. (3.50 / 2) (#24)
by mindstrm on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 11:50:45 AM EST

Shuffling takes time; when the decks are being shuffled, the table isn't making any money. Also, it's simply part of blackjack; games that are shuffled continuously, say, with an automatic shuffling machine, are not as popular, I'm sure.

Eight decks instead of four would not prevent counting; it wouldn't even make it any harder, it would just slow things down a bit.

It's silly how some casinos treat card counters as 'criminals'. Yes, it's fine for them to refuse to do any further business with the customer, I'll support that, but it should be done in a polite manner. It's hypocritical to have a game where someone can *honestly* beat the house, and then kick out anyone who does.

From what I've seen, there is a 'blank' card in the deck somewhere; whoever is dealt it gets to stick it back in the last part of the shoe; when it is reached, the deck & blank are shuffled after that hand.

[ Parent ]
Point regarding online casino blackjack. (3.00 / 1) (#25)
by mindstrm on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 12:00:20 PM EST

This occurred to me the other day; so I checked it out. What's the deal with online casino's regarding blackjack?

Well.. they basically reshuffle after every single hand; and of course, it makes sense, or you could automatically make money off them.

[ Parent ]
Normals (3.33 / 6) (#17)
by Aquarius on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:42:57 AM EST

I can readily tell you the number of Normals who saw what my friends and I accomplished and took even a tentative step toward duplicating it. Not succeeded, but tried. It was zero, out of hundreds.
The term "Normals" interests me, here. Is this as opposed to "Abnormals" or "Supernormals"? By this, I mean: would you consider yourself something different to normal or something above it by virtue of your knowledge of the game?


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
Statistical, not Value, judgement (4.20 / 5) (#20)
by localroger on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:37:48 AM EST

I picked up the (admittedly bad) habit of using "normal" in this fashion waaaaaay back when I was hanging around with some science fiction fandom types in college.

One day you wake up, and you realize you have drifted so far from the centerline of normality that you can't even explain how you feel about one particular thing, which feels natural and obvious to you, without writing a 10,000 word essay.

Remember in Part One when I won $10,000 and we were so paranoid I had the casino cut me a check so I wouldn't have to carry so much cash home? At about the point we're at in the story, I overheard X and Y having this conversation:

X: Are you ready for the next trip to Vegas?

Y: I guess so.

X: How are you for money?

Y: (looks in bulging fanny pack) I don't know, I've only got about fourteen thousand. That seems a little thin for a trip to Vegas.

X: I'll be over tomorrow with another ten.

Y hung up the phone, looked at me quizzically, and said "I can't believe I just said that."

I don't think we are better than anybody else, but my perception is that my life has drifted about as far from normal as it can get without my picture ending up on the cover of Newsweek. So "normals" isn't meant as a denigrating label; it's more a statement about myself. This will be clearer when the other installments are out.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

I see your point (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by Aquarius on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:58:10 PM EST

My commect wasn't meant as criticism, just curiosity. I freely admit that having referring to fourteen grand as "only" is not normal, unless everyone in the world hides it better than I do. I'd be doing cartwheels, and you know it :)


"The grand plan that is Aquarius proceeds apace" -- Ronin, Frank Miller
[ Parent ]
as a former casino cashier (4.87 / 8) (#26)
by bigbigbison on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 02:52:38 PM EST

I worked as a cashier on a riverboat casino in Indiana for nearly 2 years, and saw a lot of people come through the place (the particular boat I worked on is the most popular riverboat casino in America). The place neted more than a million dollars a day --net not gross. There were some progressive slot machines (a bank of slot machines, in this case 10, if I recall, that basically pool the money to raise teh jackpot) that got up to $150,000, in the employee newsletter there was an article about it that mentioned how many dollars played it takes to raise the pot $1. I calculated that over 20 million dollars had been spent on just those 10 machines since the last time they hit the big jackpot.
The ammounts of money that casinos go through is unreal. During my time on the boat, I got to be banker, which is head of the 6-8 cashiers in the cage. As banker you order money for the cage, it was a daily occurance to call the vault and ask for 500,000 in hundreds, 100,000 in twenties and so on. I had occasion to go into the vault a couple of times and saw aprox. 4.5 million in cash just sitting on a table.
My cousin basically lost her house going to the boats (there are 3 within an 1.5 hour drive) the boat opens at 9am daily and it is just scary to see all these retired people crouding the dors waiting to get on and spend their retirement of social security. I have seen on several occasions customers turning in very old and valuable money for tokens (Indiana slot machines don't take real money) and we can only give them face value.
I just can't help but wonder, what did all these people do before this boat opened (It's only been open 5 years or so)? Where was this million dollars+ a day being spent before?
It's crazy. After working on the boat, I can't see myself ever setting foot into a casino, except to see my old friends that still work there.

A Casino Odyssey: Part Two | 29 comments (25 topical, 4 editorial, 0 hidden)
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