A few years back I was playing blackjack at The Maxim Hotel in Las Vegas. We’d flown in from Michigan for a 3 night stay. At that time I was utilizing a straight forward counting method. I was increasing my bets when I had the advantage. I’d decrease them when the advantage turned to the casino. I made minor variations in my play based upon the content of the remaining deck.
I was sitting in the number two position at the table and opposite me was another player. When I sat down we were the only two of us at the table.
Amiably chatting I found out his name was Gil and that he was an oilman from Alexandria, Louisiana. He was betting rather nonchalantly at a level a few steps higher than what I bet. My bets were probably an average of $25. His bets were an average of about $100. I did notice, however, that when I increased my bet, Gil had already increased his bet.
My cards stayed average and my stack of chips gradually increased. Gil, on the other hand, seemed to be able to do nothing correctly. Shortly after I sat down, he ran out of chips and asked the pit to supply him with another rack of green. He signed the marker for $2500 and continued to play. This happened a second time and although his losses would have devastated me, he seemed to retain his cool.
As if by magic, a petite, attractive young lady showed up at Gil’s elbow. That she’d been drinking was obvious. She leaned her body heavily against Gil and seemed to want to talk directly into his ear. The pit personnel became a little agitated but Gil continued to play and lose so they stayed out of it.
Gil pulled out the chair next to him and motioned her to sit down. He moved four green chips to the dealer and asked for change. He put the stack of red chips in front of the girl and invited her to play for a while. She fumbled around and I (and everyone else) could see that she funneled some of the chips into her purse.
I did notice that during this exchange which probably took ten minutes from the time she walked up until she was seated next to him, his betting remained remarkably similar to mine. When the deck got rich for the player, his bet moved up and when it got lean, his bet moved down.
He paid more and more attention to the girl. She got a little bit sloppy because of the drinking. He assisted her as best he could. The dealer began trying to help. The pit personnel came over and watched. Soon the pit personnel was trying to help also.
The dealer did keep the game going and didn’t seem to pay attention to the fact the my chip stack was growing slowly and that Gil and my bets were fluctuating simultaneously. I noticed that the more flamboyant the girl became, the more spread there was in Gil’˜s betting. Where he had previously been spreading from a low of $25 to a high of $200, he was now spreading from a low of $25 to a high of $500.
The problem was that he was still losing. He bought more chips. Then, he bought more chips again.
My cards began to turn cold and I couldn’t seem to do anything correctly. Much the same that Gil had been experiencing. After half a dozen losing hands, I decided to lock up my winnings and colored up my chips and went to the cashier.
NEXT MORNING AT BREAKFAST
We were at breakfast the next morning and had just finished our second cup of coffee when Gil came in the dining room. With him was the girl from the night before. Both of them looked fresh and alert. In the condition that I’d left them a few hours earlier, they had made a miraculous recovery.
He saw me and smiled a “Hello”.
“How’d it go?” I asked.
“Well,” he said. “Shortly after you left the cards got better for me. By that time I was in about $12,500. In an hour of play, though, I was able to cash out at $30,000.”
“Hey, that’s great. I could see you were in trouble but it was obvious you knew what you were doing.”
“Oh,” I continued. “This is my wife. As I said last night, we’re from Michigan and our plane leaves in a while.”
He took the girl’s arm. He smile at me again. “This is my wife and partner. You saw her last night at the table. We try to get out here once a month. First time we’ve stayed here. And when they think about it, I’m not sure they’ll be too happy to see us again. Have a good trip home.”