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The Ultimate System
Chapter 1He approached the door feeling a mild sense of trepidation. There had never been any pictures of the man he was about to see on his website because he had to "avoid heat" as there were only a few casinos local to him. He wasn't really sure what to expect: the directions he had followed from MapQuest had brought him into this neighborhood, which was a quintessential lower-middle class area, nothing more or less. The lawns were generally ignored, the siding hadn't been power washed or even wiped down on the majority of the houses, and a game of street hockey was going on in the middle of the road.
As instructed, he had avoided going to the front door, instead walking up the driveway, opening up the gate, and going around to the back of the house. He lightly rapped on the basement door three times, also as instructed.
The door was opened by a portly little man with thick glasses. He was all but completely bald on top, thin-lipped and apple-cheeked. He basically looked like George Costanza from Seinfeld, except with a bit of a mild acne problem. The little man looked as though he was sweating lightly, even though it didn't otherwise appear as though he'd been performing any sort of exercise. His workout shorts hung loosely on him, so Andy could only hope his mustard-stained white T-shirt was long enough to cover the crack of his ass.
"Come on in," he said.
An increasingly reluctant Andy followed him into the basement-bedroom. Andy had kind of expected it to at least be a finished basement, but alas, it was just a basement with what appeared to be an entertainment center converted to a work station on one wall, a bed, a TV and a nightstand. Andy saw the culprit of the mustard stain, a half-eaten hot dog on a paper plate, sitting upon the keyboard of the workstation. On the nightstand sat a bowl of cereal that appeared to have been forgotten about two days prior. Simultaneously repelled by the appearance of this "bedroom" and trying to regulate his breathing due to the thick mustiness in the air, Andy turned to his host. "I can just go and come back later, if you need to finish your lunch."
"My dinner?" asked the Costanza impersonator. "No, I already ate four of those; I don't necessarily need to finish that one. We should be able to get going as soon as-"
There was a creaking of rusty hinges, and suddenly, a thin beam of light shone from the top of the staircase to the bottom of the basement. "DAVY," cried the voice of an elderly-sounding woman. "Davy, how many times do I need to ask you not to leave your toothbrush sitting on the sink, it's disgusting!"
So, this Costanza lives with his Mom, too, Andy thought.
"Mom, mom, mom," David said. "Just calm down. Listen, the bank is on our ass again, when are you going to pay the mortgage?"
The voice from upstairs sounded indignant, "When? Did I not pay it yet? Oh, no, I didn't. I know why: where is your hundred for rent? Do you think that your basement pays to heat and power itself?"
David turned to Andy. "Do you have your personal lesson fee ready?"
Andy reached into his wallet and pulled out $150, handing it to David. "Here you go."
David started walking up the stairs. "Yeah, Mom, it's right here!"
Andy was a reasonably smart guy, not college-educated, but he had graduated high school with relative ease and had no trouble in mechanic school. He'd been a GM Certified Mechanic for about four years, but he was looking to make a little side money without having to do any extra work, and he had heard that some casino games could be systematically defeated.
Andy didn't really know much about casino gaming when he began his foray into figuring out ways to beat the house. He'd stopped in once, maybe twice, in his entire life and lost $20 to the slots on one occasion while winning $50 on the other occasion. He was able to infer that winning $50 wasn't a terribly unusual event, but that the slots couldn't possibly make the casino money if the players won more often than they lost. Makes sense, he thought.
Andy thought about playing Texas Hold 'Em in the casino, and had gone to the library to check out a few of the poker books. For some reason he always found he learned better reading a physical book than reading something online. He felt that, even though he might be able to read people pretty well, all the mumbo-jumbo about pot odds, implied odds and probabilities was just too much for him to handle. He could have been a B student in high school, in fact, had it not been for those damned math classes.
David Landstrom was of a similar background, at least until he hit the age of twenty. Like Andy, he had graduated high school with relative ease, except he enrolled in community college and successfully completed a semester before growing tired of that and dropping out. He worked at various jobs for no longer than three months or so at a time because he was too much of a "free spirit" to be tied down to any one career. He attempted to play the conman on the side, but where good conmen have a combination of skill, smarts, personality and deception, David's deceptive abilities were up to par but he was generally lacking in every other necessary category.
David either liked to gamble a little too much, or perhaps simply had no interest in ever securing his own residence, perhaps a combination of the two. In any event, at the age of thirty-seven, he found himself living in a dingy basement, wearing a mustard-stained shirt - just a little too short to fully cover the crack of his ass - and constantly being annoyed by the pit-pit-pit sound of the leaky pipe in the corner dripping into the Country Crock butter bowl he had set under it.
David had a master plan, though, as he always did. He had finally developed a system that could defeat virtually any negative expectation casino game, whether it be Craps, Roulette, Let it Ride...or especially Baccarat. He dubbed his system the "Ultimate Reverse Labouchere Semi-Martingale Double-Down Streak Finder System Deluxe", or just "The Ultimate System" for short. The system relied on a betting series that made absolutely no sense on first glance, and made even less sense on second glance, but he was convinced it would work despite its repeated failure.
He sold his "Book" on his system online for the "Bargain Basement" (perhaps he was being overly literal) price of $49.99. Andy was a bit surprised when he had first received the book in a standard USPS flat-shipping envelope. It was simply a stack of papers stapled in four places along the left side, unevenly at that. Unfortunately, due to David's poor Microsoft Word formatting, Andy actually had to remove all of the staples in order to have any hope of seeing what had been typewritten on the left side of the pages. In the end, it was a stack of papers for $50.00.
Andy went to the Triple Golden Dice online casino in order to try out "The Ultimate System". His initial buy-in was $500, which was hit with a deposit match of $500, bringing him up to $1,000, which he lost faster than he felt reasonably possible.
Distraught, Andy sent an e-mail in complaint to David explaining what had happened and demanding a refund of the $50. David rebutted the e-mail by suggesting that the system could not work in an online casino because, "…A random number generator is not cards, a random number generator is not dice, how do you expect to win a game of cards or dice when you are not using cards or dice?" Much to his irritation, Andy found that he could not meaningfully rebut that argument. However, there was a caveat at the end of David's reply suggesting that Andy could learn the system in a "Real Casino" for an additional fee of $150.
It turned out that the two guys only lived in bordering states, so Andy took a couple of vacation days off from work, got the remainder of his gambling "Bankroll" out of his savings account, and drove over to meet David.
David excused himself from Andy and walked upstairs to change into his formal casino wear. It turns out that his "Gear" was simply a red shirt instead of a white one, still not quite big enough to conceal the crack of his ass, and what appeared to be the same athletic shorts he had been wearing.
As they left the residence, Andy asked the obvious question: "If you're such a successful gambler, and I'm asking this in all due respect, why do you live with your mother?"
David replied, "It's simple, really. I don't have the cash to buy a house outright. I mean, I do, but it would take too much from my gambling bankroll. You know, there are still swings; there is no system that is guaranteed to win every single session. Secondly, my mom is going to leave me her house when she passes on anyway, so you'd have me paying interest on a mortgage on a different house, and then having to deal with the hassle of having to sell one house or another when she passes on. It's just not worth it."
Andy found the answer to actually be semi-reasonable, and his faith was somewhat restored.
They drove Andy's car over to the Golden Goose Hotel and Casino because David's mother needed to borrow "his" car to go to the salon. "Yeah," David said, "I let her use it sometimes, even though I'm not sure she should be driving, but it should be okay as long as it is daylight."
They entered the Golden Goose, and the first thing David did was shepherd Andy to the Player's Club to get his $20 Free Play for being a new Golden Eggs Rewards Member. David told Andy to play whatever he wanted with that Free Play, because after that, it was "Business Time".
Andy selected a Video Poker game and decided to play at the $0.25 denomination for $1.25 per hand. This got him sixteen plays, and he was fortunate enough to hit a Four of a Kind on Jacks or Better, and a few other smaller hands, to finish with a nice little piece of change in excess of the free play amount.
"That's the first thing you need to learn," David said. "If you had only loaded that free play five dollars at a time, you would have been able to switch machines after hitting that Four of a Kind. Did you really think you'd hit for something big after that?"
David and Andy made their way over to the table games section of the casino. David looked at Andy and asked, "How much are you buying in for?"
Andy replied, "I just paid for a lesson. I'm not buying in for anything. I'm here to learn how to win from you!"
David reached into his pocket and rubbed the $50 bill. This is my only chance to parlay this into any more money off of this guy, he thought. David thought about it for awhile and realized, as sick as he was of Mac & Cheese and hot dogs (the only things his mother would buy him without him chipping in on the grocery budget) he had to gamble the $50. He got butterflies in his stomach and felt slightly dizzy, just as he did every time he was about to lose the last bit of cash with which he could have gotten something decent to eat, but walked around looking at the tables. I must be convincing, he thought.
David walked over to the Blackjack table and said, "Andy, it's like this: You played at an online casino, which is not a real casino, and played with cards that are not cards and dice that are not dice. This system can beat virtually any game, but they must be games that use actual cards and actual dice. The other thing you should ignore is the computer simulations that the doubters will present to you. These simulations are also not based on real cards, real dice, and are also based on a long-run concept not representative of something that actually exists. How can you play a billion hands in your life? You can't. But this is the sort of witchcraft they'll use to convince you of your guaranteed failure."
David's eyes went wide. "And, do you understand that, Andy? Do you comprehend, affirm and accept that convincing you of these despicable lies is all they are doing? These math-heads, for their own sick thrill, convincing you that what happens over a billion hands is at all material to what happens when you play ten hands?" David stopped for a second, saw that the Blackjack minimum was $10 on this day, and kept walking. "See, Andy, it's all about a positive attitude. These guys are all negative, they're all downers, they think the House Edge is the end all and be all, and most importantly, they don't believe..."
Roulette was also $10 minimums, but David found a craps table going for a $5 minimum. Andy, naturally a decent reader of people, noticed that the craps dealer and stickman seemed to recognize David and barely suppressed groans. They're afraid, he thought. This is actually a good sign.
David started with $5 on the pass line, which lost on his roll of snake eyes. He occupied space at the table until it was his turn to shoot. David looked at Andy. "That is not unexpected," he said, and put out a $10 bet with a $2 crap check. David rolled a Four, followed by a Seven three rolls later.
David again waited for the dice to come back around to him. When it was his turn to shoot, he turned to Andy, saying, "But, I'm sure you noticed that my last hand did not result in a Point-Seven-Out. Now watch this!"
David put out a $5 Pass Line bet with a $1 Crap Check; the point was Four. David put his last $27 across; "See Andy, I'm going to now make the point or hit a different box number, and when I do, I'll take down the place bets. I can only lose on a Point-Seven-Out, see?"
They had been at the table for about thirty minutes at this point, because David did not make any other bets after the first Seven-Out until the dice came back to him. David rubbed his hands together, took a deep breath, shot the dice, and as they cascaded end-over-end in the air, it became increasingly apparent that one of them had been flung too far and was going over the table. So far over the table, in fact, that it landed on the other craps table!
"Same dice, same dice!" David called. "Let that one get away from me, didn't I?" Before picking up the dice after the dealer had checked them and the stick pushed them back, David again rubbed his hands together and blew into them. He looked up to the sky, as if for assistance, and kept his roll low. The first die barely caught the back wall and rested on four, the second die ricocheted back almost to the point from which David had shot it, bumped against a pile of chips on the field, and landed on three.
David was incensed and immediately began screaming about a no-roll "because of the interference from the chips!"
The dealer said, "David, how many times do we do this? It doesn't matter if the dice hit chips, they can hit all of the piles of chips they like. The only way you'll ever get a no-roll is if they come to rest on a pile of chips such that you can't tell what the number would have been."
A dejected David walked away from the craps table, head down, almost as if he'd forgotten Andy was there — which he had.
When David finally became aware of Andy's presence again, mostly because Andy was his ride, he asked, "Are you sure you're not buying in?"
"No," Andy said, "I'm here for you to teach me your system. The only thing I learned was how to make very few bets and still lose $50."
"Well, do you still want to learn it today, or wait for a different day? I'd have to hit the ATM, forgot about today's lesson, or I'd already have the cash."
"I'd like to learn," Andy replied.
"My bank is fifteen miles away," David protested.
"They have ATM's in the casino," Andy said.
"And pay the fee? You are a sucker, aren't you?"
David and Andy got into the car and David took Andy on a convoluted route to get to "his" bank. He didn't actually have a bank, or any money. He'd lost the only money he had in the other $50 he had from Andy. He still believed though; he just didn't believe he had any money. He focused all of his energy on willing himself to appear to be sick, but it wasn't working.
"Andy," David said, "you already know I don't have any more money, don't you?"
Andy's jaw tightened; that last ounce of hope that David had something solid and real...and that he hadn't squandered what was now $700...was gone. "Yes, David, I know."
"Are you mad?"
"No," Andy said, "You'd think I would be, but more than anything I feel sorry for you."
"I'll get you the two hundred back, you know."
"No, you won't," Andy replied. "You'll lose it before it gets anywhere near me. It's okay, I learned something, too. Maybe you should call Gamblers’ Anonymous."
Andy dropped David off. David walked in and plopped in front of his computer feeling dejected. He needed an ego boost. It was time to get on his favorite forum, www.wizardofvegas.com, and talk about what a great weekend he had with his system. Some of them at least believe me, he thought.
Continued in chapter 2.
About the Author
Mission146 is a proud husband and father of two. He generally fell quite a bit short of the expectations most people had for him, though happily so. Mission146 is currently a salary-slave in Ohio who enjoys documentaries, Philosophy and gambling discussion. Mission146 will write for money, and if you wish for him to do so, create an account on WizardofVegas.com and send him a Private Message with your request.
Written by: Brandon James