Later that night, I was standing dead (open for business with no players). Oddly, I noticed this man, like an expectant father, standing in the wings for five minutes. He stared off into space to make himself look innocent but every few seconds, I'd catch him stealing a glance at me. He seemed okay so I wasn't creeped-out by what seemed like stalking.
To satisfy my curiosity, I waved him over. Reluctantly, he shuffled towards me and said, "You caught me." I had no idea what he was talking about about and smiled, "That's right...I did. Now tell me, what's up?" He whispered, "I was waiting for other players to come so it wouldn't be obvious." I said, "What wouldn't be obvious?" "I can clock your wheel, I win almost every time I play with you."
To the uninitiated, he was making a ridiculous assertion. Casinos build-in so many safeguards that even if a dealer, in cahoots with a confederate, earnestly tried to defraud his employer that way, it would be impossible. This awkward situation is a rarity. So in regard to my job security, I feel it's important to let naive gamblers know that whatever luck they have...is just luck. Beyond that...if I like the player...all I can offer is my positivism and best wishes.
This fellow grinned. "I know it makes you look bad if someone has you figured..." I was not going to tell him the arbitrary speed of my spins or how randomly I push the wheel in the opposite direction. I just said, "If the wheel was at a standstill and I dropped the ball over your number, the intentional sensitivity of the system would cause the ball to have an equal chance of landing on the opposite side of the wheel.
He said, "Yeah but..." I interrupted, "Yes, you might get lucky and have temporary success...and I'm glad you're satisfied with me...but I've been dealing roulette since the Stone Age..." He cut me off, "I know but..." I stopped him in mid sentence, "What's your name friend?" He said, "Burt." "Burt," I said, "you're an articulate, mannerly, well-dressed man. The last thing I want to do is insult your intelligence but I really need you to concentrate on what I'm about to say. Gambling is for chumps. You understand? Yeah short term, in moderation, it's cool, fun and a diversion from real life but please understand...this is nothing but entertainment. THERE IS NO WAY TO WIN! Over time, it would be like going to a movie and expecting to leave with more money than you came in with.
Burt smiled, "I won eighty bucks off you yesterday and one-ten the day before...today, I'm winning thirty-five and I just started." "Please Burt, I believe you...but you have to believe me...hanging out in casinos everyday is bad medicine. Your luck will turn and it won't be pretty. This place is lousy with losers and degenerates who were convinced it would never happen to them. Maybe you're bored, (I was thinking lonely but I didn't want him to get pissed at me) or maybe you're intoxicated by the rush. Either way, this joy ride will come to an end sooner than you think."
I lowered my voice as if I was taking him into my confidence and said, "If there was a way to rig it, I have a big family and you'd never get close to my table. Whoever put this crazy idea in your head was trying to come-off like a big-shot or he was just full of shit."
Burt was mulling over what I said when I added, "So many good people have been ruined by gambling...I think Dr. Kevorkian would have made a fortune if he set up a booth on the casino floor."
A smile of recognition lit up Burt's face so I continued, "Picture this, if General George Patton gambled every day, it wouldn't be long till he drowned in his own tears."
|GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON (1885-1945) WAS A CHARISMATIC AND EFFECTIVE GENERAL IN WWII. HE WAS SO TOUGH THAT HE WAS NICKNAMED "OLD BLOOD AND GUTS" BUT HE BECAME CONTROVERSIAL WHEN HE SLAPPED TWO OF HIS MEN FOR PERCIEVED COWARDICE.|
By now Burt was laughing so I said, "I don't ever want to see you upstairs, waiting in line for your number to be called...to jump off the roof." He said, "I understand." I said, "I hope you do because the knuckleheads who are afraid of heights usually take a bath with their toaster."
I said, "Now that we've come to an understanding, let's change the subject. Do you live nearby?" Burt said, "I've had a run of bad luck, I live in an efficiency apartment in Ventnor. I lost my job (the economy was good back then) and when the money got tight, my wife divorced me." I said, "First, you gotta stop punishing yourself. That means you gotta find a kinder, gentler...less expensive hobby. Something far from gambling where you might be able to find female companionship." Second if nothing is holding you to this area, expand your work search and maybe you can land a decent job in New York, Philly or Baltimore." He was nodding as I said, "Are you working now?" "Yeah, I work in the building, I sell timeshares." My face soured, "I thought working in casinos was a rough racket but you got me beat."
Burt started a sales spiel. I said, "Whoa there big buddy, save your breath, I'm not interested." He thanked me for my advice, called me a friend and left. My supervisor SAMP120 asked, "What was that all about?" I said, "He wanted to sell me a bullshit timeshare." SAMP said, "Don't laugh, last month, my brother turned me onto a great timeshare move. My wife, daughter and I stayed free, at this great hotel for a weekend in the Poconos. We went skiing, snow-mobiling and inner tubing. They try to stick it to you (buy a timeshare) but all you have to say is, no."
Several weeks later, I followed SAMP's lead and made reservations. The property was beautiful and the representatives really kissed our ass. The presentation started with a welcome orientation. Afterwards each of the thirty or so families were assigned a guide (salesman). We were then individually wisked away for a quick tour of the hotel-like condos and gorgeous single-family homes available in the vicinity. Towards the end, we got pressed into buying. When I balked, we were bombarded with special offers that WOULDN'T be available during the next day's full showing. It was easy to stand my ground because I knew that SAMP and his brother both survived not buying.