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The Ultimate System - Chapter 10

Living the Dream

David continued to see the amount on the screen, despite the fact that his eyes were closed, $99,155.12, it was completely unbelievable. At that point, though, it occurred to him that it was strange that the progressive meter hadn’t moved from where it was when he had first started playing. He had to have played at least $7,000 or $8,000 coin-in despite the fact that he had run very badly prior to that hit, but certainly, the progressive meter should have moved at least a little bit.

David couldn’t quite place why the progressive not moving had suddenly entered his mind, but he soon realized why. Opening up his eyes, the machine had been replaced with a nightstand housing an alarm clock, a lamp and an empty whiskey glass.

It had all been a dream.

"What the hell?"

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David had asked the question aloud, even though there was clearly nobody in his room to answer him. Struggling to his feet, which still felt a little bit wobbly, he focused on the alarm clock and saw that the time was 11:24 a.m.. The dream about the Quick Hit machine felt more real than any dream he had ever had to that point, so much so, in fact, that he briefly wondered whether or not he had been paid nearly $100,000. He decided to investigate his wallet.

He opened it up and counted $2,990. Trying to put the events of the previous night back in order, he realized that everything at the blackjack table, where he had quickly lost $1,000 had happened, and he had purchased another double jack, but everything after that had been a dream. His dream had apparently been more vivid than his reality, because for the life of him, he couldn’t remember ever returning to the room or going to sleep.

He had fallen asleep, or perhaps lost consciousness, fully clothed and with his shoes on, but at some point he had apparently pulled the blanket over him. He looked around in a state of bewilderment, "I wish the blackjack had been a dream," he mused to nobody in particular. He felt a dull throbbing on the back of his right heel, from rolling back and forth in bed as well as wearing his shoes for nearly a full day, sores had started to develop on the back of his foot.

He idly wondered whether, in fact, he had made it up to the room on his own. He briefly considered calling down and asking, but then it occurred to him that the front desk person probably wouldn’t know. Besides that, if he had made it back on his own, then asking whether or not such was the case would be embarrassing. He looked in the left compartment of his wallet and his room key was still sitting in there, so in all likelihood, he had made it back to the room and let himself in on his own.

He couldn’t quite remember exactly what had transpired during the blackjack session, and found himself unconcerned with the result given that he still had nearly three grand to work with. Again speaking to nobody except the air around him, he said, You really would think I’d be more bothered by that.

Not knowing what else to do, he hopped in the shower and made it a long one. The lunch buffet would be opening at noon, so he decided he would go downstairs and partake of his first free buffet for the day. Despite the fact that he drank much more than he had in the last several years, he didn’t feel sick, he felt ravenously hungry.

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He departed the elevator and started heading in the direction of the buffet when he saw Nate Frazier making his way to the staff elevator, "Good morning, Nate, how are you?"

"I’m fine," Nate responded absently, then added, "You know a no-play day on the first night of a three-night stay isn’t a good look, right?"

David might not have been able to remember the specific course of events that led up to it, but he knew that he had definitely lost a thousand dollars at blackjack, "I played last night," he protested.

"Well, if you count free play, then yeah," Nate replied, "That doesn’t really count, though."

"I didn’t just play the free play," David responded in a slightly irritated voice, "I lost a thousand bucks at the blackjack table, too!"

Nate didn’t particularly like David, but it wasn’t lost on him that giving a player who had lost a grand shit for not playing wasn’t a good look, either, "I don’t even have you on the tables last night," he said, "I’m very sorry, I’ll look into it and call your cell phone."

Not thinking too much of the encounter, David shrugged and walked away.

David ate at the buffet and decided that it would be prudent to have as much money as possible, as close to the $4,000 as he could get, with which to implement his new and improved, ‘Ultimate System.’ He couldn’t very well ask Evan for a ride to the bank from the casino, so he instead decided just to walk.

Of his balance of $612.22, David withdrew $610 which brought his bankroll back up to $3,600. He considered calling a cab from the bank to get back to The Golden Goose, but then decided he had better hang on to every penny in case his system came in close to the losing side, he would need everything he had for a final bet if it came to that.

On his way back, David playfully went back to kicking mounds of snow and watching the individual flakes separate from the clumps and flitter through the air. He saw a couple of kids sledding down a hill on some makeshift sleds composed of garbage can lids and smiled. It occurred to him that there was a lot he could do with $3,600, he could certainly afford to cut out and go skiing, there was a place nearby, rather than spending the day at the casino. He was also perplexed by the fact that Nate thought that he hadn’t played anything the previous night...his wallet told a much different tale. For a moment, he wondered whether or not he had actually been playing blackjack, but then he recalled that blackjack was the only table open.

Sometime between 4:30-5:00, David got back to the casino. At that moment, his cell phone rang, he looked and saw that it was Evan and begrudgingly answered.

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"Hey, Ev, what’s going on?"

Evan Blake didn’t waste time with formalities, "Just worried about you, you know, making sure you’re not doing anything crazy."

"Like I said," David replied, "I only brought $500 with me."

Evan countered, "That’s a lot of money."

You could hear the shrug in David’s voice, "That may be a lot of money for you, but my expenses are quite minimal, so it really doesn’t matter to me."

"Well," Evan concluded in a resigned tone, "Good luck."

David hung up the phone without responding, and it immediately rang again, "Goddamnit!" Looking down, he saw that it was Nate calling, so he decided to answer, "Hey, Nate, how’s tricks?"

Nate was taken aback by the friendly greeting, "Hey, everything’s fine. Listen, I want to apologize to you about earlier, I talked to the Table Games Director and he looked at last night’s footage, sure enough, you lost a grand. I don’t know why the pit boss didn’t put you in the system. Just an oversight, I guess."

"Okay," David said, "I guess that’s cleared up. Anything else?"

"Actually, yes," Nate replied, "I wanted to make giving you that crap up to you so I set you up with a one hundred dollar comp at the steakhouse for either tonight or tomorrow, much better than the buffet, and I am also adding $100 to your free play for today only. You’ll have $120 today, but it will be back to $20 tomorrow."

David was astounded by this treatment, "That sounds terrific, thanks, Nate! I’m really looking forward to eating in the steakhouse!"

Nate found himself confused, while it wasn’t unusual for a player to thank him for a one-hundred dollar food comp, David sounded extremely excited to eat at the steakhouse. For a player who could drop a grand at the blackjack table on a random Wednesday, Nate figured David should be no stranger to good restaurants. No matter. "No problem, David, sorry about the trouble."

"You’ve more than made up for it," David said.

David looked in his wallet for his players club card and realized it had been left at the Blackjack table the night before. The pit boss from that shift hadn’t even bothered to ask the dealer how much David had lost, and she really couldn’t remember. At some point she looked up from her Sudoku book and, seeing that nobody was playing, chucked the card in the trash can.

He went to the players club and got a new one, strolling through the high limit room for no discernible reason, he smiled as he looked at the Quick Hit machine with the $15 max bet, just a dream, he thought. He looked around at some of the other titles, but he really missed the Winning Wolf game that he was so fond of playing free play off on. He knew that video poker was the best decision, but what should he care about $120 in free play when he had $3600 in his wallet?

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David eventually found a machine called, Fireball Frenzy, and sat down playing $1.00/spin. Counting his spins, David was up to eighty spins but down to $55 on his ticket when he finally hit seven fireballs and got to go to the bonus where he could choose extra fireballs. He managed to select two extra fireballs which yielded him a hit of a hundred bucks and change. While he wouldn’t have another hit quite that high, he did hit the bonus a few more times in his remaining twenty spins and ended up with $204.33 on his ticket.

He cashed out his ticket and ignored the change, he was pleased to have $3,804 in his wallet, just short of his $4,000 from the night before. He had already forgotten that $610 of that money had come from his bank account just earlier that day. As far as he was concerned, he was almost even.

Not typically one to delay gratification, David went to the steakhouse to use his comp. He was able to order an appetizer and two of the entrees which kept it just under ninety bucks. He asked if the remaining comp value could be used as a tip, was told that it could, and decided just to tip with the remainder. While not quite 15% of what the tab would have been, it was a good tip by David’s standards.

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He took the second entree he had ordered up to his room and set it in the fridge, chicken parmigiana with asparagus, delicious! He had a steak downstairs which he found to be a bit dry, but that’s because, ‘Well done,’ was the only response that he knew to be appropriate when asked how he would like the steak cooked. Not knowing what to do for the side dish, he had simply asked for some french fries on both entrees.

Back up in the room, David flipped on the TV and was just starting to really enjoy himself when a thought hit him like a ton of bricks, I have to play! For some reason, David recalled reading about people being trespassed or, ‘86’ed,’ from casinos on the WizardofVegas Forums and came to the crazy conclusion that he would be kicked out of his hotel room if he didn’t start playing in the very near future. Looking at the clock, he noticed it was just shy of 8:00, so all the table games he wanted should be open.

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David went down to the floor and noticed that Sammy was at the craps table, after the usual pleasantries he asked, "Are Nick or Malcolm around?"

Sammy chuckled and responded, "Sometimes I wonder about you. Malcolm is in the N...B...A...professional basketball, he’s too busy being a professional basketball player to be here right now."

"Right," David responded, even though he had legitimately forgotten when the NBA’s season actual was, "What about Nick?"

"Business is slow for him this time of year," Sammy replied, "You’ll only see him here seldomly until around June or so."

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"That’s a shame," David concluded.

"Good thing I’m here," Sammy said as he looked around the otherwise empty table, "The crew wouldn’t have anything to do with themselves without me. Why don’t you play a few rolls?"

David decided he felt more comfortable having three grand in his wallet, so he peeled off eight C-Notes and bought in, "All green," he requested. Thinking about it for a moment, David then pulled out one of his singles, "Go ahead and lock that up, it’s for the crew."

"Very nice, sir," the box responded, "Thank you."

David had finally decided that there was no real point in waiting for different people to roll the dice, or waiting for the dice to come around to him, so he decided to bet on Sammy’s roll. He took one of his $25 green chips and put it on the pass line. Sammy picked up the dice and fired them to the other side of the table, low.

"Three, Crap, Three."

David shrugged at this and made a bet of $50, reducing his chip stack to $725. Sammy rolled another crap number, this time a snake eyes.

After some consideration, David took three green chips and put them on the don’t pass, it didn’t seem like Sammy was doing terribly well. Though his stack was down to $650, a win on that bet would bring him back to $800. Sammy winked at him, "Lost faith in me already, did you?"

"Don’t be like that, Sammy," David replied.

David’s decision seemed like a good one as Sammy rolled midnight on the very next roll, even though he hadn’t won anything, David’s $75 was still intact. Sammy’s following roll was a six and David did not lay any odds, four rolls later and Sammy made his point with a hard six.

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"Here we go again," David muttered.

"It’s still early," Sammy replied.

David couldn’t figure out if the table was trending towards losses or, with that one pass line win, if it had officially become choppy. He went back to one of the mantras of his new, Ultimate System, ‘When in doubt, switch games.’ He looked over at Sammy and shrugged, "I’ll play some more dice with you later on."

With that, David walked over to the Roulette table, double-zero, of course. He placed six green chips on red and waited for the croupier.

The croupier looked at David quizzically, "You want to play with those chips?"

"Yes," David said, "I don’t need them broken down."

"Okay," the croupier responded, "But, if anyone else comes around wanting to play for greens, then the two of you will both have to start using roulette chips, okay?"

David agreed, and the croupier spun the wheel.

The ball made its way around and eventually slowed, just as it looked like it would fall into Red-27, it kicked out at the last second and jumped, as if by will, into Black-29. David felt his blood pressure going up, "FUCK!!!"

"I’m sorry, sir," said the croupier.

It wasn’t just the result of the spin that had resulted in the expletive, though. David had looked up at the roulette board and realized that the last three spins prior to that one had also been black, and in fact, that was broken by two red spins and then the last four spins before that had been black. On only the second game of the night, he had failed to follow his own system. "Not your fault," he said to the croupier as he put a $200 bet on the third twelve. The last four numbers had been black and had come from the third twelve, including 33, which had repeated.

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The croupier spun the ball, and after a few seconds, dutifully waved her hand and called out, "No more bets," despite the fact that David was the only player at the table and was practically sitting on his hands. Around and around the ball went, finally dropping in Red-7. The way the ball dropped left no uncertainty about the outcome, it was almost as though it had been summoned into the seven slot.

"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, SHIT!!!"

The croupier stifled a giggle, whether intentionally or not, David had uttered the expletive seven times and the punctuation on the final, ‘Shit,’ only added to the comedic effect. For his part, David looked at the table and then back up at the board. He couldn’t decide what to do now, so the only answer was to switch games.

He took his twelve remaining green chips to three-card poker, fortunately there was someone else playing. David waited for a streak of three consecutive hands in which the dealer either failed to qualify, or alternatively, qualified with a pair or less. At that point, David made a $150 ante bet.

The dealer dealt the hands out and David reached for his cards, "Please wait until the red light is off, sir," the dealer requested. David groaned, but complied. Shortly after the cards had been placed in the discard rack, the red light went off and was replaced with a green light, David looked down at a pair of deuces. Naturally, he matched the $150 ante bet with a $150 play bet.

The other player folded his cards and the dealer scooped up that player’s ante bet and set the player’s cards in the discard rack. After that, in one skillful motion, the dealer flipped and then spread his cards to reveal a pair of fives. "Damnit," David muttered.

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Just like that, $800 was gone and David found himself counting the contents of his wallet. Despite how many times he recounted it, he always arrived at $3,003. Thoroughly disgusted with the fact that he had lost $800 so quickly and only had one push, David contemplated returning to his room.

David had to walk by the craps table to get back to the corridor leading to the elevator, but as he did, he noticed that a young guy who had made a dollar fire bet was shooting and that he had four points made already. David didn’t have to look for a streak, it was right there in front of him!

He reached into his wallet and counted out ten hundred dollar bills, reaching over to buy in for the entire amount, he felt something strike the back of his hand…

"No roll," called out the supervisor. Just as well, after bouncing off of David’s hand the result would have been a 3-4 seven-out.

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"Goddamnit!" The young kid was furious, "That would have been another three, do you know how much you cost me?"

"Sir," the supervisor said, "It is imperative that you do not put your hands, or anything else, over the table while the dice are out."

David felt that he was being attacked, and he almost lashed out, but at the last minute he realized he was in the wrong, "I’m sorry, I’ve lost $800 already tonight."

"I hate to hear that," replied the boxman who didn’t particularly care how much David had lost, "But, you still need to follow the rules. Do you want to buy in now?"

David, somewhat embarrassed, considered leaving the table, but instead, he finished laying out his thousand bucks and said, "Yes, all black."

The dealer on his side of the table sent out the ten black chips after the supervisor had counted them out, and David ended up making a put bet, of all things, placing one of the black chips on the pass line. In some cases, even though they weren’t technically supposed to, the crew might have advised making a place bet on the six, instead, but they were irritated by David’s clear breach of craps etiquette delaying the game.

In the end, it didn’t matter much, two rolls later the kid rolled a seven. His pass line and odds bets were whisked away, though he was paid for hitting four points. Firmly believing that he would have rolled a hard six had David’s hand not interfered, he shot him a friendly, "Fuck you," and left the table.

David was immensely frustrated both by the fact that he had been losing, literally, on everything he touched as well as the fact that he was doing nothing to make friends in his downswing. Murphy’s Law entered into his head and seemed to be commanding the entire course of events that day, at least, as of the time he went into the table games area. He looked down and was half-surprised that five dice were sitting in front of him.

"Are you shooting?" The stickman asked directly.

David was resigned to the fact that everything was going to go badly for him that day, picking up two of the dice and setting them aside dejectedly, he took his entire stack of nine black chips, $900, and set it on the pass line.

He didn’t know if he was going to throw a crap on the come out roll, or if he was going to establish a point and then proceed to miss it by rolling a seven, but one way or another, David was absolutely positive that he was going to lose the $900. He fiddled with the dice a little bit, even though he was sure of his fate, he wasn’t quite ready to live it out. It won’t be so bad if I don’t see it, he thought. With that, he closed his eyes and flung the dice…

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"Seven, seven, front line winner," the stick exclaimed, "Pay the line!"

David jerked his head up in shock, sure enough, 2-5 showed on the faces of the dice. Just like that, he was right back to $3,800. He watched in stunned silence as the dealer grabbed several black chips, set them beside his stack, and then matched the size of his stack. He looked over at Sammy, who was grinning broadly, "Um...Give the dice to Sammy, I’m done for now!"

David marched purposefully to the cashier with his eighteen black chips and requested that they be replaced with hundreds. He cheerfully produced a single and put it in the tip box, "That’s for you," he said to the cashier.

The cashier responded with a semi-sarcastic, "Thank you sir." He considered David to be more or less a stiff because generally, in the Golden Goose Casino, if a player approached with that amount of chips, it usually meant that they had bought in for one or two hundred and hit huge on a side bet. The cashier, of course, had no idea that the only thing David had accomplished was getting back to even on an even money bet.

For his part, David was more than happy just to escape the session with his $3800 intact, less than three minutes before that, he had been contemplating whether or not to buy in with his last two grand…

David returned to his room and meandered about. The door had scarcely closed behind him by the time he was hit with, ‘The Itch,’ again. He had been playing like a maniac and he knew it, while hopping from game to game was part of the plan, the way he had been betting had nothing to do with his new version of, The Ultimate System, and other than the fact that it was primarily negative progression betting, could hardly even be called a system. He asked himself aloud, "Do you think that you should just start out with huge bets and then work the bets down as you are winning?"

David contemplated the thought, and again aloud, answered himself, "No way! If you had been betting big from the start, you would have gotten crushed right away!"

David was at a loss for what to do, looking at the clock, he noticed that it was almost midnight, so most of the table games would be closing. He decided to head down anyway and take a quick look at the Roulette board to see if he could take that puzzle apart. In his haste, David nearly knocked over a woman who was getting off the elevator, as he approached the tables area, he noticed that the pit boss from the previous night was absolutely being dressed down by some guy in a full suit.

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The pit boss from the previous night glanced over at David, and her annoyance just grew. She vaguely recognized him from the previous night, and it occurred to her that he was the subject of her getting dressed down by the Table Games Director. She had lost track of what he had been saying and returned her attention to him, "...and he has a host, for God’s sake! You’re running one table with two players and you can’t even be bothered to put a rating in for someone?"

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"I’m sorry," she said, "I don’t know how it slipped my mind."

She had apparently forgotten that the table games area is highly surveilled, "I’ll tell you exactly how," the Table Games Director continued, "Because you were too busy paying attention to your puzzle book."

"I’m sorry," the pit boss responded, "That’s probably right."

The Table Games Director corrected her, "That’s definitely right. You had two players, count them, one-two. Not only should they be rated correctly, you should be able to tell me how much was bet on every hand! We ended up having to give the guy some serious comps to make up for your laziness, hundreds of dollars in comps, all because you didn’t want to do your job. You were nearly too lazy to even be bothered to look up when the guy was buying in!"

"It won’t happen again," she replied.

"You’re damn right it won’t," the Director concluded, "Because, if it does, you working in this casino will never happen again. I try to give you a little leeway and let you have your puzzle book, but that’s only for when there are no players and there is absolutely nothing to do. In the meantime, your dealers can only stand around and do nothing except exhaust their feet. Maybe I should make you just stand beside them all night, instead."

The pit boss didn’t saying anything, and the Table Games Director walked off in a huff, eventually deciding just to leave the matter alone. He had decided not to take away her privilege of pulling out her puzzle book when it was absolutely dead, but if he saw her monkeying around with it while there were players at the table, she would be as good as gone.

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By the time David got done watching the scene unfold, he realized that the roulette table must have closed at some point prior to midnight. They had left the board on, and judging from the most recent numbers showing up on the screen, he had actually been the most recent player. He walked over to the little alcove that served as the poker room and saw that nothing was going on in there. Sammy had apparently left and the craps crew were doing their count, getting ready to close.

Even the three-card poker table had closed for the night, so David was left with nothing to do except play blackjack with a dealer who was different than the girl from last night, or do something else entirely. He flipped through the thirty-eight C-Notes in his wallet for perhaps the tenth or eleventh time since he had left the cage and decided that he didn’t want to play blackjack. It wasn’t because he was afraid of losing, but after the pit boss had made eye contact with him and he realized he was the subject matter of her being ripped apart, playing at the table that night would have been too awkward.

Despite the fact that he wasn’t typically a drinker, and the fact that he didn’t feel all that great when he had awoken that morning despite waking up naturally, David decided that he would go ahead and have a few drinks. Walking around with his whiskey glass the previous night had made him feel somewhat classy and important, so he decided he enjoyed that feeling.

Somehow, he had ended up with a total of $30 in food and dining credits, so he decided he would end up having three more of those doubles and would tip the off $3 to the bartender. The bartender, same guy from the previous night, remembered him (there weren’t that many people coming to the bar that time of year) and asked, "Same thing."

"Yes, sir," David replied handing the gentleman his card, "Just take it out of my comp dollars and tip yourself a dollar out of that for every round."

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"Very generous, thank you," the bartender replied genuinely.

After David had received his double Jack, neat, he went off in search of something to do. He strolled into the high limit room again and cast his gaze at the Quick Hit Platinum machine, the same one that he had been playing in his dream the previous night. He noticed that the top jackpot was only at eighty-five thousand and change and idly wondered where the amount in his dream had come from. Part of him, a really big part of him, didn’t want to take a chance on playing the machine, but eventually he decided to find out whether or not his dream had been prophetic.

Popping in his players club card and eight hundreds, David set about betting $15/spin, as he had done in his dream. After perhaps a hundred spins, he managed to hit the five Quick Hit symbols which was sitting at $237.53 at the time, and then he hit for some free games on the very next spin!

Growing increasingly excited, David frantically tried to decide which boxes were hiding the twenty free games as well as the Wild + Five Free Games, realizing that he had absolutely no idea, he instead decided to close his eyes and rub his hands all over the screen until something happened. Ultimately, he did hit the Wild + Five, but the other two matched boxes only contained seven free games, giving him a total of twelve.

Despite the fact that he had not gotten as many as he had hoped for, the free spins went reasonably well, David had caught a retrigger and hit for five Quick Hit symbols ($300) again during the free games. In total, the free games yielded $415 to him and he realized that he was up to a little over $1,100 overall.

Another thing that he noticed was that, in his excitement, he had thrown back what was left of his whiskey. He printed out his ticket, stuck it into his wallet, and made his way back to the bar for another one.

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"Nice to see you," the bartender said enthusiastically, "Are you winning?"

Even though other staff members in a casino tend to avoid that specific question, and probably are specifically trained not to ask it, such as table games staff and slot staff; it is not unusual to have that question come from a bartender. Security guys will sometimes ask how you are doing, too, but that usually only happens if it is someone that the player has been friendly with. For some reason, though, many bartenders feel as though the question is appropriate.

Forgetting entirely about the $600 he had withdrawn from the bank less than twelve hours before, David responded, "Yeah, I’m up a little over $300."

"Try to win more!"

"I will," David said, "Don’t worry about that!"

Upon receiving his drink, David mulled over the possibility of returning to the Quick Hit machine and giving that another go, but decided against it. Instead, he withdrew his slot ticket from his wallet and sat down at one of the bartop games. Selecting the Deuces Wild game for dollars, which came with a $5 Max Bet, he proceeded to play something close to a reasonably good strategy. Most of the hands he did actually manage to play correctly, except he had a tendency to toss three card straight flush draws that should be held as well as inside straight draws.

He had lost about a hundred dollars when, after hitting, ‘Deal,’ he was presented with a gift: Three of the Deuces! He doubted he would pick up the fourth, but the only thing to do was try, so he held the three deuces, and sure enough, caught the deuce of clubs for another thousand bucks!

David now had $2,010 and some change on his ticket, and upon cashing out, he gave a ten-dollar tip to the bartender. Finishing his whiskey, he passed the cup over along with the ten-spot and his players club card, "The ten is for you, please give me another drink and take it off of my comp dollars!"

Coming from David, who certainly didn’t look like a rich man, this was actually a hell of a good tip. Of course, that time of year, any tip was a hell of a good tip, "Thank you very much, sir!"

David smiled. He was somewhat amused by the bartender’s joy in receiving a ten dollar tip when he had just won a thousand bucks so easily, "Don’t mention it!"

David now had fifty hundreds in his wallet, $5,000, he knew because he counted it about twenty different times before leaving the bar. It still hadn’t dawned on him that, despite his recent good run, he was only up about $400 in two days because he had withdrawn the $600 from the bank earlier that day. In fact, if you were to ask him, he would probably only vaguely remember doing it.

His immediate inclination was to find some machine that would let him bet either $50 or $100 per spin, but surprisingly enough, he just managed to dismiss that notion as patently foolish. Instead, he glanced at his cell phone, ten until two, but he was still riding a high. He decided it was time to try his luck at the blackjack table again. Screw the pit boss, he thought, that was her fault.

He walked over to the blackjack table where a male dealer was sending out the cards tonight, or not, there were no players at the table. David produced five C-Notes and set them on the table. The dealer dutifully declared, "Changing five-hundred."

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In an exaggerated and sarcastic way, the pit boss responded, "Yes, change five-hundred. Changing five-hundred dollars cash. Five hundred dollars cash being changed at Blackjack Table Three. Thank you for your patronage at the Golden Goose Casino, and good luck to you, sir, may you be our next lucky winner."

The dealer barely concealed a grin as David smiled and flipped the pit boss off. He obviously had no idea why the two were treating each other with such disrespect, but he found it amusing none the less. He was usually a morning shift guy and was only pulling a double because there was a call-off anyway. In fact, he couldn’t stand that pit boss and would probably quit his job if he had to work for her regularly. "How do you want it, sir?"

"Um…" David hadn’t really thought about it, "Let me have two blacks and the rest in greens, except fifty dollars in reds."

It took even a skilled dealer a second to make sense of the request, but after a brief pause, he passed David over two black chips, two stacks of five green chips each, and two stacks of five red chips per stack. "Good luck to you, sir," he said flatly.

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David still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but eventually managed to place one black chip and four of the green chips in his betting circle for a $200 bet. The dealer slid his first card to him, an eight, and then the second card, another eight. The dealer had turned himself a five, and David wondered if it was going to be a repeat of the previous night.

David set an equal set of chips in the appropriate area and said, "Split," while giving a splitting hand gesture. The dealer put a three on each of David’s eights.

"Here we go," David muttered. He produced three more C-Notes from his wallet and converted them into black chips. He placed the two black chips behind his first eleven and received a ten, for a total of twenty-one, for his trouble. He took his odd mix of one black, two green and ten red chips and set it behind his other hand, but that hand was only rewarded with a deuce.

"Dealer," David began, "Please don’t pull a twenty-one on me."

The dealer shrugged and said, "I certainly hope not, but the cards will do what the cards will do."

The dealer flipped over his other card, a five, and then he proceeded to draw a deuce of his own followed by a four and then, finally, a ten!

"Twenty-six," the dealer stated calmly, "I believe that’s too many. How do you want it?"

David was thrilled with the result, even though it was more in line with expectation than what happened the previous night, he couldn’t believe that he had won a doubled bet on both hands. "Um, right, um, just turn everything into black!"

The dealer cooperated, first he announced a payout of eight-hundred dollars and then he announced that he was, ‘Checking,’ eight-hundred and colored those chips up to blacks.

Just like that, David found himself with $5,802 and was beside himself with joy. "Actually," David began his question as he slid a black chip to the dealer, "May I have four greens?"

If the dealer was annoyed by transferring the same money back and forth for a full minute after the hand ended, he was too professional to show it. "Check-Change One-Hundred," he dutifully announced and slid David his four green chips.

system_chapter_10_15

"Do you guys keep your tips?"

"All of the tips are pooled equally among the dealers," the dealer responded.

"But, not the pit bosses, right?"

"No," the dealer said, "Management staff is not tipped."

"Good," David replied as he sent one of the green chips to the dealer, with a little flourish this time, David sat it on his side and, believe it or not skillfully, spun it over to him, "Lock that up!"

"Thank you, sir," the dealer responded, "Extremely generous!"

______________________________________________________________________________

David cashed out at the cage and tipped his other two singles, bringing him to a total of $5,775 in his wallet. He wanted to go back to the bar for another drink, but he must have just missed the bartender. The cocktail waitress was actually back there preparing her last round of drinks, and she offered to get David something, but he changed his mind about it.

He went up to his room, kicked off his shoes, and decided that another shower would improve his already fantastic mood. In the last two days, he had now legitimately won over a grand and got to enjoy two disgusting buffets as well as one terrific dinner at the steakhouse. The thought reminded him that he still had an entree sitting in the fridge, and ravenously hungry, he pulled it out and wolfed it down in under five minutes.

He was sitting in the armchair with his feet propped up on the ottoman at that time and had nearly forgotten that he wanted to take another shower. By the time the thought to do so came to him, he had already begun to drift off to sleep and, with his very last ounce of energy, at least managed to kick his shoes off.

He woke up a little over a couple of hours later, around five in the morning, momentarily disturbed by what he assumed to be freezing rain absolutely pounding his window. The fact that he had left his curtains open and golden light was pouring in from the large Golden Goose mounted on the side of the building was not helping matters, either. Annoyed, he got up and closed the curtains.

The thought that his recent winning session may have been a dream, just one that was a little less exciting and lucrative, popped into his mind and he decided to explore the contents of his wallet. It turned out that David’s winning session was entirely real, though, and $5,775 was all there.

He idly wondered whether or not he could talk Evan into getting a bigger place, he certainly had more than enough to cover half of first month’s rent and deposit somewhere, and still have well over four grand to his name. He also considered Evan saying that he believed there were other units available for rent in his building. Giving it some thought, though, he decided that he didn’t want to ask Evan to move out of a place he liked, and for the first time, realized that he simply didn’t want to live alone.

Even though he and his mother didn’t speak very often, and when they did it was often not friendly, the fact remained that she was there and that he could speak to her anytime he wanted. Despite his reclusive tendencies, he realized that living in his unkempt basement with the constantly dripping pipe (why haven’t I fixed that yet?) was still better than being completely alone.

He reflected back on his youth and tried to think of some of the good times that he had enjoyed while growing up. Eavesdropping on others, it seemed like everyone had amazing stories of athletic triumphs, drugs they tried, college parties, academic successes and any other manner of things that made growing up the best part of life. For David, the entire experience had been lonely with very little worth remembering.

Strangely, David was actually less socially awkward now than he had been as a youth. Evan had been his only friend, and even though he wasn’t necessarily bullied, he had always been too painfully shy to really engage other kids his age. The result was that he spent much of his time lonely and depressed, and even worse, he could count the number of girlfriends he had in his entire life on one hand, or more specifically, on two fingers.

The result of growing up this way was that, eventually, David believed that people simply hated him for no reason, but the simple truth was, they mostly just didn’t know him and he did nothing to ever make himself known. As David aged, he felt that he was becoming a mirror, and as such, he would simply reflect the hatred and loathing that he felt society had for him right back at them. The result of that, of course, was that he became a person that most people loathed.

system_chapter_10_16

Even before he started making small tips here and there, and even when the normal cast of characters at the craps table still hated him, David felt as though the money he flashed around bought him a measure of respect amongst the other players as well as the crew. In reality, most of the players were aware that he worked as a deli attendant at A Penny Saved and the only thing his recent tendency to buy-in (and bet for) large amounts had brought was concern along with a measure of pity. In fact, the main reason why Sammy had given him a ride a few months prior was because he pitied him.

Shortly after David had started buying in for large dollar amounts, the people around the table had started treating him better, Sammy included. What David didn’t realize, however, is that he wasn’t being treated well because of the bankroll that he had been flashing around, he had been treated well because he had started treating others with a little shred of decency. Eventually, decency begat decency and one could almost argue that David had risen up to the level of, ‘Generally liked," at the craps table, rather than merely tolerated.

It had escaped his attention, but when the kid whose dice David had inadvertently blocked gave him that hearty, ‘Fuck you,’ before leaving the table, Sammy had told the kid to shove off as he was walking away. Had David heard him say it, he might have realized that he had a genuine friend in Sammy, and that friend had his back even more than David had thought. If anything else, Sammy was concerned by David’s bankroll rather than in awe of it, in fact, he was almost concerned enough to say something.

Almost.

The only people whose respect or tolerance had actually been bought by David was the old craps crew, who he had finally starting toking a little bit, and, of course, the bartender. Bartenders love anyone put in front of them for a couple of bucks. Recently released sex offender, you’re garbage, according to the bartender...Recently released sex offender that tips a buck every round, ‘Hey, who’s to say the guy actually did it?’

David, of course, was blissfully unaware of any of these things and had just begun to drift back off to sleep, at least, having counted the contents of his wallet five more times. Just before falling away, though, it occurred to David that he genuinely missed Nick and Malcolm and was looking forward to the time that he would find them at the craps table. It even entered his mind that he might wait to play his new system until those two gentlemen were likely to be in the casino, the table wasn’t quite the same to him unless the two of them and Sammy were present.

______________________________________________________________________________

David woke up at around nine the next morning, surprised he had gotten up so early after throwing back six total shots, he decided to make sure the events of the previous night hadn’t been a dream. For maybe the hundredth time in the last few days, he counted the contents of his wallet, still $5,775.

system_chapter_10_17

He was unaccustomed to being up in time for the breakfast buffet, so after hopping in the shower, he went down and got seated with an hour left before the buffet would start being broken down and prepared for lunch. He was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the breakfast items tasted fresher than the items for the buffet’s other meals, with exception to the yogurt, anyway, it was rancid.

He looked at his phone after he had finished eating and noted that the time was just after ten o’clock. He thought he was going to eat four or five plates of food, but ended up stopping at only two. The dishes with the potatoes in them had been quite filling. He thought about going up for another shower, but then it occurred to him that he had just had one. Absent any other ideas, David decided to go find something to try that day’s twenty dollars in free play on.

Again, he counted the contents of his wallet, $5,770, because he had tipped the buffet server $5. For someone eating alone, and on a comp at a breakfast buffet that would only have been $7.99 anyway, the tip was extremely generous.

David looked around and, unable to find a machine to his liking, decided to return to the Quick Hit machine from the night before. Upon looking at the last amount played, it occurred to him that he had essentially never left the machine as he was the most recent one to have played it. He loaded his free play and put in his off $70 and began playing for $5/spin.

He was down to $20, but then he hit some free games and cash registers started going off in his head. Unfortunately, he only ended up with five free games, no retrigger, for a final result of $35. He went on to lose the next eleven spins.

David shrugged his massive shoulders, pulled his wallet back out, and counted $5,700. For some reason, even in light of his maniacal betting over the last few months, losing the $70 really bothered him. It felt absolutely pointless, he had $20 in free play, so why had he felt compelled to put that $70 in the machine to go along with it?

He took a stroll around the table games area, but most of his target games hadn’t opened yet. Upon inquiring with the morning shift pit boss, he found that the majority of the dealers had been knocked down to six hour shifts during the slow season, and as a result, most of the table games wouldn’t be opening until noon. David was slightly annoyed by this development, but there really wasn’t anything he could do about it.

Instead, he meandered back to a far corner of the slot floor that, to his recollection, he had never previously explored. He coughed as a plume of cigar smoke wafted into his face courtesy of one of the slot players in that area. He looked down at the gentleman smoking the cigar and asked, "Do you mind?"

system_chapter_10_18

"Well," the older man said, "Since this is the smoking section and I’m seated and you aren’t, I guess I don’t mind."

David looked up, sure enough just behind him was a red neon sign proclaiming, ‘Smoking Slots.’ He looked back down at the old man, wondering how he had managed to avoid emphysema for so long and replied, "I’m sorry, you’re quite right."

David finished his tour of the smoking section, but there were no slot titles available there that couldn’t be found in the non-smoking area. It occurred to him that the setup was strange because patrons could smoke at the bar, they could smoke in the table games section, (and all of these areas were in close proximity of the non-smoking slots) but they had to have their own slot section.

David made his way around the casino determined to find anything else new. He gave the doors that proclaimed, ‘Showroom," a tug, but found them locked. Even though there were no conferences going on, he found an arrow sign proclaiming, ‘Conference rooms,’ and pointing down a hall that was just past the elevators. The conference rooms were unlocked and David took a look around. He went into a smaller conference room located beside those.

From somewhere to his right, a voice called out, "Can I help you, sir? Are you lost?"

"No," David replied, "What’s this room all about?"

The gentleman’s voice had a slightly perturbed air, it had nothing to do with David and everything to do with the fact that he wasn’t on the clock yet, "This is a conference room, but when the conference rooms aren’t fully booked, it’s used as an employee snack room. There are donuts, coffee and English muffins today, same as usual, we can come here before shift or on breaks."

"Are you on a break?" David had asked the question, it hadn’t occurred to him that bothering an employee while that employee was off the clock was impossibly rude.

"I’m a dealer," the man responded, "I haven’t started yet, but I think I am going to be on Mississippi Stud today. Employee snacks are in the break room when all the conference rooms are booked, but the break room is really small, so they set us up here."

"What’s Mississippi Stud all about?"

The dealer was almost about to give David the most polite version of, ‘Fuck off,’ imaginable, after all, he was trying to enjoy his paper, coffee and an English muffin before clocking in, but then he thought better of it. "If you’ll excuse me for not wanting to explain the game right now," the gentleman began, "It’s because I’m off the clock, but if you want to come over to my table after my shift has started, I’ll be more than happy to explain the game."

"Okay," David replied, "I hope I like the game, I’m a pretty big player."

"Good," said the dealer cheerfully, "I could use something to do. I’ve only had four players in my last two shifts...combined."

"See you later."

David went up to the room and did the best he could to pull WizardofOdds.com up on his phone. Fortunately, the site had recently been updated for mobile and, as a result, navigation was pretty easy. He managed to get the Mississippi Stud game out, and as it turned out, David vaguely remembered having played it for fun before after a few hands.

Even an unskilled player soon realizes that Mississippi Stud is essentially Let It Ride in reverse. Instead of taking bets away when things don’t look good, players are put into a position of having to bet more virtually anytime they have a reasonable chance of winning the hand. Mississippi Stud, undoubtedly, is the realm of action junkies or red chip players that would normally play green on other games as well as green chip players that would play black on something else.

David smiled to himself, this game is dangerous.

With a pair of kings after the first community card, David had turned an initial bet of $25 into a $200 profit almost immediately. He lost the next hand, chasing to the end, but then he caught a pair of kings with th4e second community card of the following hand and found himself ahead $250 overall. He wasn’t even sure why he was winning what he was winning, but he knew he liked the game so far!

He immediately folded the next four consecutive hands, they were that obvious, but then connected for a pair of queens with the final community card and was up $250 again. On the very next hand, he was dealt a pair of kings right away and ended up connecting for a four-of-a-kind, almost immediately he found himself ahead $10,250!!!

system_chapter_10_19

David was beside himself with disbelief, what started out as a $25 bet turned into a profit of $10,000. Of course, David had technically ended up betting a total of $250 on the hand, but that was beside the point, he had been chasing a winner all the way!

Of course, David was just smart enough to understand that he couldn’t expect to hit a four-of-a-kind in so few hands, but there were quite a few hands that were lesser and still had amazing payouts! He was in absolute shock that he had hit such an amazing hand so quickly, and it occurred to him, that would doubtlessly be enough to call it quits for awhile if he were lucky enough to hit something like that!

David then mulled over the idea that most players had to lose at Mississippi Stud, because otherwise, the casinos would not make money at the game. He tried to figure out the reason that so many players ended up losing and decided that it was simply because they played too long. David determined that the best strategy for playing the game would simply be to bet either $25 or $50 initially, basically all the time, and then quit as soon as he was ahead by three grand or more.

Just look at what happened on the play for fun game, he thought excitedly, if I can win ten grand so easily, then three thousand bucks is a cinch!

David was going to return downstairs and not just show the dealer who was so patient with him before the start of his shift how to play big, he was also going to show him how to win big! David had been running so well recently that he felt practically invincible, and the amazing hit on WizardofOdds.com had to be a sign of things to come. He no longer needed luck, he found a game where the key was simply knowing when to quit!

He could barely contain his excitement, and hopped in the shower. Even though he had just had one earlier that morning, he wanted to be as fresh as possible for his big moment. Despite the fact that he usually wore extremely casual clothes on the casino floor, he pulled out his black slacks and white button up for work and even used the room’s iron to smooth them out.

Today, he thought, is going to be the best day I’ve ever had.

After what seemed like an eternity, David was clean and pressed and he made his way down to the casino floor. He consulted his phone and found that it was 1:30, so the Mississippi Stud table was virtually guaranteed to be open. He walked down to the tables area, looked for the Mississippi Stud sign and found...a different dealer.

"Hey," he asked the dealer, "Where’s the young guy?"

The dealer, who might qualify as elderly, scratched the top of his head. "Mike," he asked, "Do you mean Mike?"

"I mean the guy who is supposed to be dealing this game today!"

"I just give breaks," the elderly man said, "I’m also pretty new here, even though I’ve been dealing cards for a long time. I don’t really know who is who." He waved over the pit boss, "Excuse me, miss, but this gentleman has a question."

"Can I help you, Mr. Landstrom?"

David Landstrom was positively stunned, it was the first time that someone on casino staff had ever referred to him by name without him expecting them to, he was turning into a big deal at this place in a serious hurry. In fact, he didn’t even recognize this lady! Shaking his head briefly to break his reverie, he asked, "Who is the regular dealer on this game today?"

Without missing a beat, the pit boss answered, "Matt is on this game today."

The relief dealer proclaimed, "I knew it was an, ‘M,’ name!’

Both David and the pit boss ignored the old codger, David followed up, "Is he the young guy?"

"I wouldn’t call him young," the pit boss said, "He’s in his early thirties, maybe he looks younger than that, I don’t know, I’ve never paid much attention."

David almost broke her off before she was finished, it was positively essential that the dealer would end up being the same guy, "Blond-haired guy?"

"Yeah," affirmed the pit boss, "That’s him, Mr. Landstrom. Only blond male dealing anything today, so you’ve definitely got your man."

"That’s terrific! Do you know when he gets off break?"

The pit boss then consulted her watch, "He should be back in under ten minutes. Are you going to play with him?"

"He doesn’t know the half of it," David replied, confidently.

The pit boss wasn’t quite sure what to make of his statement, she briefly considered whether or not David intended to hit on Matt, not my problem if he does, she thought, "Well, good luck to you, and feel free to buy in with Phillip here."

"Yeah," Phillip replied, "I need something to do. I’m tired of giving breaks to empty tables. I’ll probably forget how to deal cards before long…"

David briefly mulled over getting his chips ready with Phillip as he waited for Matt, but he was worried that would somehow screw up everything, "I’m sorry, Phillip," David responded, "Destiny ordains that I have to wait for Matt."

Go back to chapter 9.

To be continued in chapter 11.

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

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