Nov. 16, 2000
This is the last hand, I repeated over the blackjack table as I anxiously waited for the dealer to lay the cards down.
Push, the dealer said. No true gambler can ever leave the table on a push, so I kept the chips on the table and put myself in for another round.
Winner. I liked the way that sounded. Winning looked even better as I watched the dealer count out 10 blue chips on my pile. For you rookie gamblers, that’s $50,000 dollars worth of chips. What kind of person stops after winning $50,000? I play another hand double-or-nothing.
If gambling is a genetic disease, I carry many of my father’s genes. He will be in Las Vegas Thursday – he will eat his turkey and then excuse himself to the slot machines. But, by no means has he participated in high-risk gambling. He taught me early in my gambling career that cutting yourself off is an art. Unfortunately, I’ve never been very artistic in that sense.
Las Vegas, from my second-hand experiences, is risky business. The neon lights reflecting off glitzy dresses and pimpin’ suits has a way of calling people to lay down more money than they would otherwise. So you can imagine what happens when the Residence Hall Association organizes Casino Night at the Hippodrome – it’s all out spending.
Well, maybe not. I went in without a penny to my name. It was unfortunate because raffle tickets for a Spring Break trip to Las Vegas were on sale for a dollar. Judging by the relatively sparse turnout, the chances of winning weren’t too bad. As we walked in, I watched my friend lay down a dollar for a ticket. Shortly after I decided it would be a good idea to start sucking up to him just in case he won and needed a new best friend. I was determined to be there for him.
As I sat there at the blackjack table, I couldn’t help but think how gambling reflected politics. The governing body, whether the actual government or the chip givers in pseudo-casinos, hand the players a generous initial amount of charity chips – somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000. Then people take the money and invest it. So I decide to invest these charity chips in low-risk blackjack. Right off, I more than triple my money.
The friend who sat to my right managed to gamble away all his money and sweet-talked me into loaning him some of my chips. With a trip to Las Vegas in the back of my mind, I consented to his requests. After all, the trip was for real and the chips held no real value – I couldn’t even trade them in for a Coke.
As closing time approached, I anxiously awaited the raffle. Surely the chips I donated were enough of a concession for my friend to take me to Las Vegas with him if he won. A woman stood up to announce the raffle winner. A drawn-out procedure to pick a winner followed. First the ballot box was slowly shaken and then the woman reached lethargically in and grabbed a slip of paper. The paper was leisurely unfolded Here was the big moment. The winner is .
I slowly I learned my friend did not win. Oh well, Spring Break is months away – plenty of time to make a new best friend.