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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Blackjack with Captain Uptown

Day 4 - Fri May 19, 2017 - continued

Blackjack can be as much a social entertainment as it is a gambling entertainment. With the right people at the table, you can have such a blast that winning or losing don't matter as much. With the wrong people, you end up gritting your teeth and maybe making bad decisions.

If you're really serious about blackjack, you'd probably prefer not to have too many distractions one way or the other.

But at five bucks a hand, I loves me a full table of good-natured half drunk degenerates!

Showered and glad I didn't bet on the Senators in the game, with the Penguins edging them 3-2, I was ready to roll. I walked down the long OCD hallway, trying not to look at the carpet, turned the corner and hailed an elevator. I got in and pressed the big oval button marked Casino, and started to pray that the car would not stop on the way. Its the small things.

I arrived unimpeded, turned right, and had to wait to cross the thoroughfare just outside the elevator foyer. Memories of Frogger from the Pinball Hall of Fame. Then I weaved my way through the casino, around the ever-brighter displays on the modern machines, past the craps tables and the High Limit room (tables empty, as usual). I like to play near the cage, where that creepy inexplicable motorcycle is on display.

I found a five dollar table with a couple of empty spots and sat down to play a little.

It was a fun little group at our table but all too quickly, they either busted, or picked up what was left of their buy-in and wandered off. I found myself alone.

I like playing video poker alone, or with someone I know really well. Not much room for personal comfort in between. There's always the worry that if I say a few words to a neighbor I won't be able to get them to shut the hell up so I can concentrate.

Slots, different story. I don't need to concentrate. There are not many decisions to make.

Now, I really do not like to play blackjack alone, primarily because the hands can go by so quickly, you barely have enough time to scratch your chips. It can be brutal on your rating if you are trying to put some time in because you can get wiped out so much faster.

Someone wandered by and performed the "lurk far enough away to pass for a kibitzer, but close enough to be seen by the players" maneuver. Some like to see how the cards are running before they jump in. I admit to doing this myself, because I don't jump in on a shoe. And, sometimes, I am watching to see if players are making stupid stand-on-14 moves, which can drive me crazy while it causes me to lose.

Another guy wandered by, kind of thin, perhaps a little older than he first appeared to be, squirmy little short greyish beard on him, looked like he might be wearing a British sport coat. Probably because he might be British. There's nothing wrong with Brits, except the ones with squirmy little short greyish beards. As we'll see.

I invited him to sit down, to dive in, c'mon! So he did.

You know how sometimes you just happen to meet the right people at a table, you get along, share a drink and a laugh, and the energy level goes through the roof? It's great, right? It either just happens, or it doesn't.

Squirmy didn't believe in things 'just happening'. Squirmy liked to make things happen.

Squirmy had all the finesse of a tongue depressor. And Squirmy had decided that this table was going to be the exciting funster table.

The guy at second base got wiped out, and dwaddled off somewhere, just about the time a couple performed the Lurk maneuver over my right shoulder. I sat at first base, which is my habit.

"Sit down!" spouted Squirmy, "Dive in!!!! C'mon!!! Let's get this going!"

A few hands went by and we all got introduced. To my left was Matthew, and next to him his wife Lisa. Squirmy was on third base.

Drinks got ordered and a few Aces got dealt on the felt, which Squirmy would delight at, shouting encouraging things to make blackjacks appear.

"C'mon table, let's get a realllll table going here, get into it! C'mon dealer, lets see some paint here!!!"

There is nothing worse than a one-sided high five, and we were wobbling through the rhubarb into that direction.

On one hand, we all had pretty good hands of 18s and 19s and the dealer was sitting on 16 or something, and as the next card came out of the shoe, Squirmy shouted at the top of his lungs, "UPTOWN!!!"

I turned to Matthew and said, "I have no idea what that means."

More hands went by, and more drinks came around, and Squirmy demanded excitement at every turn.

"Here it comes.... UPTOWN!!!" would shout Squirmy.

"21," would say the dealer.

After about half an hour of this, Captain Uptown took a break. He took the winding stutter-step dotted line on the carpet that would eventually lead to the Men's room. That's when I realized he was more than tipsy. He was plastered.

Five minutes passed by, then ten, then all of a sudden we realized that Captain Uptown hadn't returned and it was a good 20 minutes, his chips and smokes still sitting on the table.

"I think Uptown went Downtown," I said.

He finally did come back and played a few more hands and next thing we knew he was gone.

Matthew and Lisa and I were getting along famously when a new face sat down in Uptown's old seat.

And this new face wasn't just a face, either, it had a head, and ears, and torso and feet and everything. Quite impressive, really.

The guy looked really interesting. He was of eastern heritage but had a really cool greying goatee and a shock of salt and pepper hair.

Out of the blue, I started calling him "Wolfman".

Matthew said, "You called him Wolfman... I was already thinking Wolfman Jack!"

"Nailed it. That's EXACTLY who I was thinking."

Wolfman was born in Canada, but had worked and lived in the US for many, many years, and finally the chemistry at the table was just right.

We all thought he looked like the coolest dude imaginable but he kept insisting he was just a high-tech dweeb. I didn't believe a word of it. I'm sure he ran an underground internet radio station from a router in a Tijuana flop house every night, starting at midnight.
Wolfman looked exactly like this. Sort of.
We had a blast together. Lisa was quietly mounding up green chips, while Matthew's were disappearing. After an hour or so we realized she had four or five hundred in front of her. I was see-sawing, but generally up a bit.

I'd been sucking back the bourbon all night and it was time to get some Emergency Pizza into my stomach - I hadn't eaten since my violent lunch special at Kung Fu. You know that feeling when you are starting to say some things that are maybe a bit too edgy? I was there.

I didn't want to become my own version of Captain Uptown, so when I hit $200, I colored up.

Only problem was, I got back $180. Huh?

In a moment of wisdom I said, "Hey, you know what you're doing, you do this all day long, the only possibility here is that I miscounted."

And with that, I unfortunately had to break up the magic of that special night over Macho Grande at the T.I. blackjack table.

Emergency pizza was gooooood, and after, I played some 50 cent video poker on the F.C.K.M. of D. machines. Hmmm, I never noticed that first letters of Fifty Cent Killer Machines of Death almost spell something rude. It's really unlike me not to notice rudeness.
Deuces had been my friend today, and it looked good for a while.

But guess what? Yeah, I went on a minor tilt. I dropped $140 in no time at all. Three hours plus of blackjack work down the tubes, almost times two.



I hit up the Beefffalllooo! machines.

(I have the nagging feeling I wrote about this already, but my definitive notes and drunk texts to the Quad Queen put this on tonight. Plus I have the pictures to go with it.)

And honestly, I was not in good shape. I was in for $60 and almost busted. I was at that point where you are ready to accept defeat if you can go to bed already. But I hit a bonus and got back up to $80.

Great time to cash out, right?


I played on. And on. And I was falling asleep at the machine. Visions of Security escorting me to my room danced in my wooden head.

It was pushing 2:00am and I was down to $10. Be done with it already and go to bed.

Lose. Lose. Lose. Lose.

The meter said I had enough for
I thought, fuck it, $10 to go, I'll not play 60 cents, I'll play triple that. I'd have 27 cents extra to leave in the machine for somebody.

I punched the button as I started to get up. A bell rang. No shit?! A bonus round. I had to laugh.

It went through its wonderful little song and dance and orspasmed coins all over the place and I sat staying awake as best I could, smiling.

When it was done, I had won $127.68. It was a great day, I'd had a blast, met nice people, had a winning day, and I was up on the trip bye $405. I stumbled down the OCD hallway to bed.

    1 comment:

    1. 12 quads after 4 days...thank god your playing other sports (games I mean).


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