Friday, 24 May 2019
Reading time 2 minutes 32 seconds
The house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes. The house takes you.” Danny OceanI was taught to play black jack in the casino at Amsterdam airport by my mate Jonny. I wasn’t a good gambler, so Jonny cleaned up. Years later I used my skills to great effect in the mecca of the blackjack world. Vegas.
It was my first time in the city and after lying to my girlfriend that I was going for a drink and gamble and would be back soon I found a welcoming table. A waitress asked if I’d like a drink and a deal of the cards later she returned. I thanked her and asked how much to which she explained they were free if you were gambling but it was customary to tip your waitress. So, I gave her a five dollar note.
Like the shopkeeper in Mr Benn she would magically appear with a new drink as I drained my last one. It was like having the world’s best stalker. The drinks kept arriving and I’m unsure how much I’d given away as tips as the glasses were not there to count. As the booze flowed Jonny’s lessons seemed to be paying off as I was winning and had become a high roller playing 5-dollar hands. All that time I wasted working for a living I realised I should have just come to Vegas.
Later, I went to tip the waitress but had run out of cash. She informed me that I could tip her from my supply of winning chips, what a time to be alive, so I gave her a chip. And then another and another. At one point I mistakenly gave her a $25 dollar chip which, even though I was on a roll, was slightly out of character. I also started to distrust her as I wasn’t drunk and I’d had at least 3 drinks.
I enquired as to the time.
It was 5am.
I’d been there for 7 hours and not moved not even for a wee.
I went to stand up and the shop keeping waitress was right there but with no drink. Her name must have been Pavlov as I found myself tipping her again. I left the table. I’d won in Vegas. I must be the house. I’d never have to work again. Nailed it!
As I walked out of the casino 7 hours of “free” booze hit me. I saw the bank of lifts that would elevate me to my room and although they were five steps away I reckoned I could make it. I’d grossly overestimated this and fell to my knees. After crawling through the lobby I reached up to press the button and the lift doors opened. I’d only left the casino floor 60 seconds ago and had gone from sober to drunk in that time which I reckoned was a new personal best. No time to crow as I had to get home. Luckily I lived on the first floor and from my doggy style position I could reach that button.
On exiting the lift, via the roly poly move, it then took me a further hour to get to my room. In context the room was 25 seconds down the corridor. I banged on the door. My girlfriend opened up looked at me and laughed, then got angry and then laughed some more. She explained that they pump the casino rooms full of oxygen to help you gamble more. That was the last thing I remembered as I fell asleep while apparently being dragged into the room and left to sleep on the bathroom floor.
Later that day as we approached the casino floor I swore to myself and anyone who could hear that I would never drink again and I meant it this time. 59 seconds later, after a few mouthfuls of casino Oxygen I ordered my first drink which I reckoned was a new personal best for giving up then starting again. A Short while later as if by magic the waitress appeared and watched me lose all my winnings plus some money I didn’t have. Looks like I’d be returning to work after all.
Picture: This is neither mine nor anyone’s happy place.