In October I published my first installment of great gambling stories. Today I am going to tell you about three more.
I have gambled for over 40 years, from Foxwoods near Mystic, Ct. to the Bicycle in Los Angeles. I have seen a lot of crazy things in my time. I am going to start with a bizarre story that didn't net us any money. I am including it here because it was so strange. It happened at the Desert Diamond in Tucson, Az.
My wife and I had been playing blackjack and we were waiting for seats in the poker room. We stumbled on to one of those video roulette wheels. You insert your money, the machine credits it, and about every 15 seconds some cartoonish, virtual dealer with big boobs spins the wheel. Just before she spins the roulette wheel, she says "No more bets." Then she puts the pea in the roulette rail and spins the wheel. The key to this story is that as the pea is spinning in the rail before it drops, it makes a noise. The wheel also makes a clackety noise as it spins. These simultaneous sounds last about 15 seconds.
I think we may have each put a twenty in this thing and we are just killing time. No sooner had we made a couple bets than this kid at the end of the game, calls the number out and then the pea lands in that number. He does this a couple times before I start paying attention. Spin after spin, this kid calls out what number the pea is going to land in before it leaves the rail and drops onto the wheel. So now I am more interested in how the hell he is able to do this, spin after spin. He is never wrong.
I cannot tell you how many hours and days this kid must have sat there- listening to the sounds of the wheel, memorizing them, and calling out the correct number every time. Somehow, he had memorized the sounds of all 36 numbers and also the 0 and 00. Unfortunately, because the game shut all bets off just before the spin- there was no way to capitalize on this. That made it even more weird. I simply could not imagine how anyone could memorize the slight auditory distinctions each spin of the wheel made and how long this kid had been obsessed with that. I also did not understand why. There was no profit potential. Autistic I suppose.
The College Football Bet
For many years, I played poker every weekend. Maybe 15 years. In the fall, on Saturdays, I never missed a weekend. I loved to bet college and pro football. I would bet the games, tune to the proper channels, and watch the game while we played poker in the poker room. Very often, a crew from Montana would show up on higher limit weekends when we would play 10-20 limit.
So there was this guy, Jim, from Deer Lodge, Mt. He and his friends from Deer Lodge and Anaconda would show up and play 10-20 limit Hold 'em. On this particular day, Jim decided to bet a college football game for 1500 bucks. The spread was -1.5 which meant Jim had to win by two points. (I made decent money back then and I always wondered where these guys found 1500 to piss off on a football game, my biggest bet is usually 500)
I wished I remembered who the two teams were who played that day but I don't. I do remember the score was 29-3 at the half. Jim's team was getting it's ass kicked so he quit watching the game and since 1500 is a lot of money, nobody teased him about it. One of the crazy aspects of this game is that the opposing team blocked a chip shot field goal and ran it back for a touchdown. They had missed two other extra points.
So when the game started after the half, I kept watching. Jim's team rallied. About the time they made 3 second half touchdowns, the score was 29-24. Everyone at the table was excited. Jim, who had written off the bet earlier, was glued to the television. Just as time expired, Jim's team scored a touchdown. The score was 30-29. We were all excited, slapping Jim on the back- whooping it up and hollering. All they had to do was kick the extra point and Jim would cash his ticket. Except that didn't happen. The coach decided to kneel the ball down instead rather than risk another blocked kick. We were all incredulous. That was the worst beat I ever saw- down for most of the game, came roaring back and gave Jim hope, and then crushed him with that kneel down. I can remember how sick I felt for Jim. I kind of get sick just re-telling this story.
The Good Karma, Bad Beat Jackpot
In 2016 I had bought a new house in Twin Falls and sold my house in Boise. I was homeless as I waited for the family to move out of the house in Twin Falls. I had a week to kill. I decided to go to Tucson. Tucson is one of my favorite places.
I had a crazy thing happen to me a few months before selling my house in Boise. I was in the alley pulling weeds. When the sun went down, I took my sunglasses off. Right after I did that, I pulled a weed out of the ground and one of the stalks in this weed stuck me right in the eye. I tore the macula in the right eye, it went dark, and eventually I had surgery. So, I was blind in that eye for about 6 weeks. During that time, I had a serious problem with depth perception and driving. I backed into my truck, I backed into the trash cans, I even ripped the passenger mirror off the car backing it out of the garage.
The rear bumper of my Elantra was pretty scuffed up and scarred. A new bumper cover was only a couple hundred bucks on E Bay.
So off to Tucson I went.
The second day I was there I decided to go play poker at Casino Del Sol. On the way there, I get struck from behind at a traffic signal. Not too hard, maybe 5 MPH or so. Mexican gal, 50s, gets out of her car. She looks at my beat-up bumper and starts crying. She had gouged a hole in the bumper cover, but I was going to get a new one anyway. I looked at her and said, "no damage." It is fine. She is very apologetic and nice. She says thank you. We go about our separate ways.
At the casino, I landed a seat in a 4-8 game. They have a bad beat jackpot which is maxxed out at 50k. To win the bad beat jackpot, 20 dollars must be in the pot. Four of a kind must get beaten by four of a kind or better.
The game is full of solid players. There is a little old lady sitting two seats to my right. There is an old, grizzled player in the number one seat, on the left of the dealer. I am on the dealer's right, bullshitting with a guy next to me. After about 2 hours or so, the old, grizzled guy and grandma get in a raising war. I hadn't been paying attention and I look out at the board. There are two kings and two nines on the board. And neither one of these two will stop raising. I thought initially that each had a king full house but ol' grizzly won't stop raising. Grandma keeps raising back despite the fact she can see the two nines on board. They probably each put in 10 raises. I asked the guy next to me if he thought they had hit the jackpot. The guy "shushes" me. Grandma finally quits raising. She rolls over 4 kings. Ol grizzly rolls over 4 nines.
Ol grizzly wins 25,000. Grandma wins 12,500. The rest of us win about 1600 apiece. It takes the casino nearly 3 hours to pay us. We can't play while we wait, so everyone is bullshitting and grandma, hitting the white zin, is pretty much wasted and happy. She keeps drinking wine and kissing on me. It was kind of strange, but everybody seemed happy. I don't think her hubby cared too much for her kissing other players, but the 12 grand softened him up, I suppose.
While we were waiting to be paid, I won another 200 when the poker room calls my seat number in a random lottery.
It was a good karma day. I love Bob Seger and the casino had a band that played nothing but Bob Seger. I wish all days were like that but then I guess they wouldn't be so special.
Great stories Brian. I don't get back here often enough but the effort will increase. From your previous post, I like your posts otherwise I would not comment.
Not really a gambler, I live vicariously through you and learn a little along the way. Any gambling I do is purely for entertainment and that's probably why I am in the hole overall. I do like craps though.
Bear Claw Chris Lapp
I had a Korean client that I had just did a beautiful cherry blossom window for their bedroom. Both he and the wife loved the panel and we began discussing doing their front entry. Asians can be quite ostentatious(as well as gambling nuts).
So they paid me the design fee and a month or so later we got together again. They loved the design and agreed to the budget, some where around $20K, half down which they wrote a check for. I was pretty happy, it was a good commission.
I get a call from him on Monday, did you deposit that check? Well yeah. He tells me he had a disastrous weekend in Vegas and it was going to bounce. Oh well. We never did get that entry done. I did get a beautiful antique oriental scroll that is hanging in my bedroom now, have no idea what it says but I'll never forget that guy.
Man and that sure confirmed some of my life choices.
I can think of two times in my life that I went flat broke. One other time but we both made so much money we bounced back easily.
I think you have to feel the severe pain of a gambling loss in order to understand it. Once I went to an old friend for a loan and he flat turned me down. Several years later, I pawned some guns just to get home. My version of leaving Las Vegas. I even left my furniture behind.
That was 35 years ago.
I learned my lesson. Gambling today ought to just be called losing instead. The math is so tilted and the taxes are so heavy- you simply have no win anymore.
But damn-there are a lot of people still trying.
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