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Last Updated: September 22, 2016
The Ultimate System - Chapter 4
Chapter 4Nathan, "Nate," Frazier looked up from his computer screen, "Who the Hell is David Landstrom?"
The question was directed to Nate's fellow casino host, Greg Larson. Greg Larson had actually trained Nate, and though Nate was a host in his own right, Greg still found himself helping him along at times. The previous host, Daniel, had left the Golden Goose to take a position at Gawker Casino, a new Atlantic City casino which thought being entirely non-smoking, while otherwise stiffing the players, would be a sound business plan. The last Greg had heard, Gawker Casino was in the midst of filing for bankruptcy protection, so he idly wondered if Daniel would ever come looking for his old job back.
Snapping back to reality, the much older Greg pushed his glasses back up his nose and ran a hand through the left side of the horseshoe that remained of his hair, "David Landstrom is an idiot of the worst variety, why do you ask?"
"Well," started Nate, an energetic blond-haired and blue-eyed guy in his mid-20's, "That idiot just bought in for $1,000 at Let It Ride a few minutes ago."
Greg's eyes popped open, "A grand? Like, with three zeroes? Who the Hell did he rob?"
Nate cocked an eyebrow. "Are you saying you don't want him? I mean, if you don't want him, I'll be glad to take him. How's his action?"
Greg replied, "It's hard to tell, the pit undervalues him both severely and intentionally, nobody wants him around. He asked me for a buffet comp last month, only thing I'd comp him is my foot in his ass. I'm surprised they didn't put a $100 buy in the computer, whether it's $1,000, or not."
Nate pressed the issue, "Well, certainly he can't be that bad, he's bought into Let It Ride for a grand, that'll be more action than the game has seen in the last three days combined. Why undervalue him? Why not try to get him to come back in more often?"
"I'll tell you why," Greg replied, rolling his eyes, "Because he is a severe pain in everyone's ass. He's verbally hostile with everyone, he berates the crew, he doesn't tip, he whines anytime he loses, and he absolutely tore into Nick DeMarco about something last month. The crew thought he was going to attack him."
"DeMarco!?" Nate was incredulous, "Does he have a death wish? DeMarco's my freakin' martial arts instructor; he'd destroy virtually anyone!"
"That's right, you don't know Landstrom. I forgot," replied Greg. "My mother is eighty, and I'd lay two to one that she could take Landstrom. In any case, the crew really thought Landstrom was going to take a poke at Nick. That's not good for me, either, you know. Nick's my guy; if he was even involved in a fight, he'd be banned for life, unless he didn't swing back. That wouldn't help my paycheck any. I also doubt if Landstrom knows that Nick is a martial artist; you certainly wouldn't get that impression looking at him."
"I imagine not, but there has to be more to the story than Landstrom just being a pain in the ass. Are we upside-down on giving him offers previously?"
Greg furrowed his brows. "Not. At. All. David Landstrom never wins, literally, never."
Nate clicked on Landstrom's name; immediately a stat chart came up for him indicating how much his previous buy-ins were, what his usual betting patterns consisted of, average daily theoretical loss, all offers he had received, and a link with which he could have viewed all of David's slot play, ever. Nate analyzed the screens and turned to Greg, "It looks like he has burned some free play and rolled out a few times this month, and he's only played the tables one other time, Craps for fifty dollars, which he lost."
Greg replied, "It's hard to tell. Sometimes, they'll go through the motion of taking his card and not enter him at all. That could be right, though; he took a serious ass-beating last time he was here. Nick told me all about it."
Nate asked, "So, we don't know how much he is worth, but he's worth something. Like I said, if you don't want him, I'm on it. Why does he always lose?"
Greg replied, "System player."
Nate almost jumped out of his chair, "No shit!? An honest-to-God bona fide system player!? We haven't had one of those, other than DeMarco, since-"
Greg interrupted, "Dr. Taj, crazy bastard."
Nate replied, "Yeah, Taj, he was one of the guys I watched you talk to when I first started. Man, you're smooth. I haven't seen him in awhile, where'd he go?"
Greg's face fell. "I don't want to talk about it."
"No..." Nate drew out. "He didn't?"
Greg asked, "Well, what would you do? I can almost understand it; the guy was a partner in a family medicine practice, had the car and the family, everything like that and discovers the Reverse Freaking Martingale. He doesn't need the money, he was loaded, he gets hooked and he absolutely did not need the money, at least, not right away. Two years later, he sells his part of the practice to his partners, his partners are now his employers, credit cards are maxed to the hilt, lost one of his cars, getting divorced, has multiple credit cards from the same bank, even!"
Nate countered, "I know you're putting me on, now, the same bank wouldn't give him two credit cards."
"I guess they weren't technically both his," Greg replied, "One of them belonged to his wife. She didn't know it, but it did."
"Credit card fraud?"
"Identity theft, legally speaking."
"How do you know?"
"I got a cash advance on it for him. He didn't want to leave the table because he wanted to watch all of the hands play out while he waited for more money. We don't normally do it, but he'd give me the card and go get the slip to sign. He took out $4,000 on one Capital One card and then took out $5,000 on the one in his wife's name. I know because the cage couldn't authorize the transaction because her name was on the receipt and card, he paid some girl $100 to call Capital One, pretend to be his wife, and set up a PIN."
"How could you possibly be a part of all that!?" Nate exploded. "Don't you know that what he was doing was illegal? How do you not report that?"
Greg sighed, "Not my job, not my place. I'm not a cop, nor have I ever been a cop. The only thing I know is that when he had maxed out all of his plastic, he started getting markers from us, small at first, then bigger when we knew he'd pay. That's when he started selling his share of the practice a bit at a time to pay them off. His wife divorced him at that point; I imagine she got a good bit of whatever was left, hopefully the house."
Nate asked, "Couldn't she have gotten him some help?"
Greg replied, "Probably thought he was cheating. The signs are basically the same, she just misinterpreted them. Of course, by the time she realized the sort of financial disarray they were in, helping him would be the last thing she'd think about doing."
Greg took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose. After a moment of thought, he replaced his glasses and looked directly at Nate, "You know something, Nate? You take Landstrom. You have to be prepared for stuff like this. It's the only thing you haven't dealt with; You've dealt with guys who have been hooked before, but there's something different about Landstrom...Just remember, guys like him and Dr. Taj would be here with us or without us, we're just making it more enjoyable for them."
Nate muttered, "And lining our pockets in the process."
Greg shrugged, "Might as well get a piece of the pie; the corporation's just going to get it all, otherwise. We're just doing our job. Go talk to Landstrom when the time is right."
David's mind returned to just ninety minutes before as he counted his chips and made sure they totaled $1,000.
"Again, I'm sorry about that. How much did you want to deposit?"
He asked, "Deposit?" Recovering his composure, he continued, "No, excuse me, withdraw. I want to cash this check and withdraw $500, thanks."
The thought that he could leave kept ringing in his head; I could walk out of here with $138 extra bucks, right now, just ask the dealer to color the Green and Red back up to three more Blacks, go to the cage, cash the thousand out and leave $138 ahead. I know this system will work, but maybe today's not the day. He looked around again; shaken, he started to sweat.
The dealer was highly confused at this point. David was the only player at her Let It Ride table and he'd not yet bet anything, though it had been nearly two minutes since he finished counting his chips. She really didn't want to be rude, but this was getting ridiculous, politely she asked, "Your wager, sir?"
David could feel the blood pulsing through his veins, he started to worry that his heart was about to give up. Could I really be having a heart attack? Am I having one now? He wet his lips and decided to leave, just as he noticed Nick Demarco walking by.
David shouted, "Hey, Nick, listen, I'm really sorry about what I said to you last time we played Craps together. I'd take it back if I could."
Nick retorted, "I don't want to hear it. Do you know how many times I've had to answer to people what that was all about? Unlike you, I can afford what I am doing here, win or lose, and I'm here to have fun...not answer questions about my interpersonal relationships with others. By the way, can you grab me a pound of Virginia ham and a half pound of Muenster when you're done playing?"
Self-consciously, David looked down and noticed he was still wearing his apron and nametag, "David Landstrom-Deli." His face flushed with a combination of embarrassment and anger, "You know what, Nicky, I'm about to show you something! I'm going to make more in one hour, at this table, than you'll make in a month of flinging your precious little dice around!"
As Nick started to walk away, he said, just loud enough for David to hear, "Or maybe sharp cheddar would go better with Virginia ham."
With great irritation, David removed his name tag and stuck it in his pocket, then untied his apron, placed it on the chair, and sat on it. David reached out, grabbed six of his Red chips, and placed two on each betting spot.
Let It Ride is a game where whether the player wins, and how much, depends on achieving a simple 5 card poker hand. The player will initially be dealt three cards and must decide if the hand is good enough to leave all of his bets out there, or if the player would prefer to take one of them back. The dealer will then show a fourth card, and regardless of what the player did after seeing his initial hand, he may leave another bet out there, or he can take the second bet back. The bets must be equal, and the player may not remove the $ symbol bet under any circumstances.
David's Ultimate System for Let It Ride was the closest system he had to The Martingale. Let It Ride was a rare game for David in that he both knew, and abided by, the Optimal Strategy for playing the game and ensuring the best return. With a House Edge of 3.51%, it certainly wasn't the best returning game in the entire casino, but it was probably fairly close, considering the way David played other games.
"The Martingale System" is betting strategy in which a player will start with a certain bet amount, often known as the "base bet," and then continue to bet that amount on every win. In the event the player loses, the player doubles his bet on the next hand (and continues to do so in the event of consecutive losses) because, if the player wins at any point, all of his money will be returned and he will profit the amount of the original bet. The goal of the Martingale System is to avoid a long streak of consecutive losses.
David's Martingale System for Let it Ride was only slightly different in that it was based on the amount lost, rather than the total amount bet. For instance, if David bet $10 on each spot and had been dealt 10-9-7, then the correct play is to remove one of his bets. However, if the next card were to be an eight, then the correct play is to let his bet ride, but a loss would result in him losing $20 on the overall play, thus, his next bet would be $40 per spot even though his original bet was only $10 per spot.
The main reason that David believed this to be a viable system is because, with most games in which one would Martingale, one can only profit the amount of the original base bet in the event of a win, a notable exception being Blackjack. Applying this Modified Martingale to Let it Ride, however, could result in a win far greater than the original base bet because many of the wins in Let It Ride will see the player getting paid better than even money on his wager.
The session started reasonably well for David, he placed $10 on each betting spot and was dealt J-10-7, off-suit, and took his first bet back. The dealer revealed a deuce, but David paired his jack on the final dealer’s card after taking the second bet back. His total was now $1,010.
David's biggest hand came after he has lost three consecutive hands, the first of which involved him losing two bets. Prior to this hand, David had lost $20, $40 and $80, so he was betting $160 per betting spot and was dealt 5-5-7. Many inexperienced players would consider such a hand to be a strong hand and might be inclined to let the second bet ride. Knowing better than that, David pulled his first bet back pursuant to Optimal Strategy. The following card was a deuce, so David again removed his bet, but then received another seven for Two Pair and a total win of $320. After subtracting his losses, David now had a total of $1,190 in chips.
On the following hand, in which David was betting $10 per spot, he was dealt J-J-10; clearly the correct decision is to let both bets ride because he already had a guaranteed winning hand. David did so, and was rewarded with another jack on the fifth card, giving him a three-of-a-kind for a profit of $90 and bringing his total up to $1,280.
The session continued to go well for David when he was dealt 6-6-9; David pulled the first bet back, but immediately received another nine. He let the second bet ride as he already had a winning hand, but the final card was a three which didn't improve the hand any further. Still, David had gotten $20 for each of his $10 bets that were still out there, a profit of $40, bringing his total to $1,320.
David sat up in his chair with a huge grin on his face; even he understood probability well-enough to know that Two Pair, Three-of-a-Kind, Two Pair was a fairly unlikely series for three consecutive hands. The way things were going, $10,000 profit looked like it was easily in reach; perhaps he'd offer to buy one of Nick's fifty-seven gold watches.
The following hand was a winner, though not quite as good. David was dealt Q-K-7; he pulled the first bet back and received an ace. After pulling the second bet back, the King paired on his fifth card for a profit of $10, bringing his total up to $1,330.
David was amazed that things were going so well. He placed his $10 per spot bets out again and was dealt 5-A-7. His next two cards were a king and a nine. Having taken both bets back, David lost $10 on that hand, bringing him back down to $1,320 overall.
David confidently placed four red chips in each betting spot for a total of $20 per spot. His initial cards came out 4-6-2; David felt that a straight might be coming, but ignored the urge to leave his bet out there and made the right play. The next card was a seven, rendering the hand unwinnable. David was down to $1,300.
David changed one of his black chips for more reds, and placed a green chip and three reds ($40) on each betting spot. His starting hand of 4-9-8 was even worse than the previous hand, in that there was no hope for a straight. He pulled a bet back, received a queen, pulled his other bet back and it was followed with a king. David's total had dwindled down to $1,260, and now he had to bet $80 per spot.
David had a strange feeling that he would not win the next hand if he left his black chips in front of him, as they would be the appropriate chips with which to begin making the $160 bets in the event of a loss. Much to the dealer's annoyance, David proceeded to change all of his remaining black $100 chips into greens and reds. He placed three greens per betting spot with a red on top of each. The cards came 5-K-3. Pair of kings, has to be, David thought as he pulled back a bet and waited for the next card, a queen. He pulled another bet back and the dealer revealed a losing jack. David was down to $1,180.
David quickly placed six green and two red chips per betting spot and was dealt 6-A-5; the following cards were a ten and king. Having pulled both bets back, he lost $160, reducing his total chips to $1,020. Despite that great run of hands in the beginning, David's profits were almost entirely gone.
Not to be deterred, David placed $320 per spot out there, twelve green and four red chips on each spot. The dealer, usually very adept at math, was becoming somewhat confused with the increasingly tall stacks of chips being bet and verified, "$320 per spot, right sir?"
"I'm not here to do your fucking job for you," David muttered.
The dealer sighed and hoped to God the continuous shuffling machine could find it within itself to deal David absolute crap, or better yet, three-to-a-royal followed by four-to-a-royal and then a deuce of some other suit. That'd be hilarious! Not only did he just insult her, but she also knew he'd never tip, because he didn't tip when he hit any of the good hands. Perhaps more so than any other casino game, a dealer's only prayer of seeing tokes in Let it Ride is a player hitting a decent hand, and there were often none to be had.
She barely suppressed a smile as David was dealt K-8-4; after he took back the first bet, the dealer showed a three. David rubbed his head, signaled for the dealer to push back the second bet; she did and revealed a deuce.
David now only had $700 in chips left, and the system called for $640 to be bet, per spot. He was nowhere close to being able to cover that, and even if he could, another loss would render him such that he could not bet again anyway, as the table limit was $1,000.
Frustrated and nearly failing to hold back tears, David counted all of his chips four different times, came up with the same total every time, and played $230 per spot, which was the most he could do without buying in for more chips. He received a starting hand of 2-Q-3.
He took his first bet back; what else could he do? What he really wanted to do was grab back the other $630 chips he'd had less than five minutes prior and run out of the Golden Goose, not that it would do him any good, because there would be no way for him to cash them.
His next card was a seven.
He took his other bet back and swore he would walk away from the table, accept the loss of $70 and be happy with it, if whatever powers that be would just give him another queen.
The final card was another three; a pair to be sure, but not a high enough one.
"Sir," the dealer said politely, "Please watch your language."
David offered something between a snort and a grunt by way of apology.
With only $470 in chips left there was only one thing to do, and that thing, obviously, was to bet $155 per spot. David received a hand of 4-6-A.
Unbelievable, he thought, as he pulled back his first bet.
The next card was a five.
Just one Ace, how hard could it be? What would this be? Eight hands in a row? It must be nearly impossible to lose eight hands in a row. The next card absolutely must be an Ace.
In reality, the probability of losing eight consecutive hands in Let It Ride is between 9-10%; also in reality, David's final card was a useless eight.
David let his head fall on the table, the audible THUNK it made caused the dealer to jump back, though surprised, the rock-solid dealer still kept her hands where the eye in the sky could see them.
David had $315 in chips left; in a rare admission of defeat, he got up and started walking towards the cage.
David's mind barely registered that a man had strolled up and was walking with him as he made his way to the cage.
"You win some; you lose some," the man cheerfully sing-songed, and added, "Right?"
David's response was equally affable, "Who the fuck are you?"
"Excuse me," the man said, "My name's Nate Frazier. Let's go have a drink; it's on me!"
David didn't really consider himself much of a target for homosexuals, especially not homosexuals as good-looking as this particular one. "No, thanks. I'm sorry, I don't go that way."
"No, David," David's eyebrows went up as he wondered how this man could possibly know his name. "I'm one of the hosts here; I’ve got some stuff to talk to you about, great offers and cool things coming up in the near future! Want to have that drink, now? There’s plenty of time to cash out later."
David affirmed that he'd like to have a drink and started making his way to the bar area near the tables. Nate suggested something more private and led David through a maze of penny slot machines to an opening in the faux-gold wrap-around that separated the casino from the steakhouse, food court and bar, and gestured to David that he should turn left.
"I didn't even know this was over here," David remarked.
Nate was confused, "The Nest Lounge? I'm surprised you didn't know that; the Nest has been here as long as the casino has. It's the only proper lounge in the house."
David thought he was pressing his advantage. "With all due respect, Nate, I'm a player and that's what I come here to do. I'm sure your drinking establishments are just as good as anywhere else in town, with a possible exception to your falsely-inflated captive market prices, but I bring my game every time I come in here, and my game is my focus."
Nate paused and really looked at David for a second. He'd certainly dealt with delusional addicts before, but this was the first time he'd ever met someone who could lose absolutely every cent he had to his name, and even some cents that he didn't have to his name, and Nate would not be in the least bit affected. He wondered how someone who was on the brink of a complete emotional collapse just minutes before could possibly shift gears and now think he was so far above the very thing that had just nearly crushed him.
Nate gave David his warmest grin that said, "Trust me," and thought, The Golden Goose is going to break this guy, and I'm going to help them do it.
What he told David instead was, "Actually, our prices for players are pretty competitive. First of all, it's only half-price if you are playing anything at all in the entire house, which makes the drinks less than any other bar in town. Secondly, if you are playing green chips or higher at any of our table games, or betting $1.00 or more per spin on slots, they're free!"
David walked into The Nest, and without being prompted by Nate, strolled over to one of the booths along the far wall and plopped down. Nate asked David what his poison would be, to which David replied that he'd like a gin screwdriver. Nate strolled over to the bar and got David's screwdriver along with a Pepsi for himself.
"Okay, David," Nate began, "I wanted to let you know that I've already taken care of a room for you for this evening, if you're interested."
David's voice betrayed his irritation, "Why do I want a room? I live in town!"
Nate did just enough to conceal his annoyance. Greg didn't mention that David was a local, but it was just as much Nate's fault for not checking the Contact Info screen. "Listen, I figure you can go to the buffet and eat to your heart's delight; I took care of that already. Then go crash for a few hours. Come back down and try again, but only if you want to. You look tired, and that was a brutal session, incredibly bad luck, so some food and a nap should do you some good."
David countered, "You know, a different host said you can't just give stuff away arbitrarily."
Nate replied, "David; you're a smart guy, so I'm not going to play any games with you. We get paid based on how valuable you are to the casino, but anything that we give you is also deducted from that, at cost. If another host told you that, then he simply doesn't think you're as valuable to us as I know you are."
David inquired, "So, you're saying that you want me to lose?"
"No! Hell no, David, I want you to win! I want everyone to win!" Nate continued, "There's this concept called ‘Theoretical loss’; every game in this casino has an inherent house advantage, I'm sure you know that. Anyway, based on the total amount of money you put in action, you're expected to lose a certain percentage of that money. I get a percentage of that percentage, as your host, if you are deemed valuable enough to be worth me getting a percentage at all. If you win, you will continue to bet, so that percentage will go up regardless of what actually happens. In essence, I want nothing more than for you to win!"
"Good," David replied, "Because winning is what I do."
Nate walked back into the office about ten minutes later and asked Greg, "Why do you think they give table players free slot play as a reward?"
"They want table players to become slot players."
"But, table players bet more."
"More per decision, but there are fewer decisions per hour. Imagine a player who buys into Craps for $100, it would take a horrible run of bad luck, betting the $5.00 minimum and only the $5.00 minimum on the Pass Line for that player to lose all $100 within an hour. I've seen $100 go, 'POOF' at $1.50 a spin within ten minutes on a slot machine."
"Well, I got David another $50 in Free Slot play for today. They wouldn't give him any Match Play, though."
"They’ll never hook him on slots, but all they're wasting is time."
"If he's hooked, then why can't he become hooked on slots?"
Greg sighed, "You do have some stuff to learn. There aren't very many betting systems that can be employed on slots or any other game of that nature. David is hooked because he believes he has a variety of winning systems to employ on any given table game, but with slots, he's smart enough to know he just wins when he gets lucky. If you really want to get the most out of your people, then you need to figure out why they are here and appeal to that. David wants to feel like a winner, so treat him like one. For one thing, you shouldn't have gotten any Free Play approved, but instead, you should have put him in a suite as opposed to one of the standard rooms."
"I don't know," Greg replied, "Hopefully, his entire paycheck."
David had just finished admiring the spacious bathroom in the room he'd been comped for the night. He was most impressed by the shower with the sliding stained glass door that could hold two people, even two people David's size. He found himself pleased with the room and the furnishings, especially the bed. The first thing that he did upon walking into the room was plop down on the bed, despite his need to use the toilet; he could not recall ever sleeping in such a luxurious pillow-top bed in his entire life.
He was surprised by this royal treatment as he recalled rooms at The Golden Goose Hotel running about $150 per night. Little did David realize that he happened to be looking at rates for a Holiday Friday when he saw that; today was a non-holiday Tuesday. Non-holiday Tuesdays were $35, and $25 with your player's club card. All David knew, or really needed to know, was that he had just filled his stomach on food better than hot dogs and was sleeping somewhere better than a basement.
David grabbed a notepad and pen and started taking down some notes, The Ultimate System was to take on a new game later that evening, but first he had $50 of Free Play to run-through. Before any of that could happen, though, David decided that a nap wouldn't hurt him at all.
David lay down in his bed and grinned; he was finally getting the respect he deserved as a player of his caliber. Free food, free play, and a free room that was worth $150. He knew when his idea of 'Probability' played out the way it was supposed to he would also take The Golden Goose for plenty of her Golden Eggs. In fact, he'd probably be banned from the casino after hitting his $10,000 goal, but there'd be other casinos which would treat a player of his level even better, at least until they realized that he was sure to beat their games. He idly wondered what country he would visit in the unlikely event he was banned from every casino in the U.S.A. Snapping back to reality because of a noise outside of his room, he realized that it would probably be awhile before he was banned from every casino in the country, or even The Golden Goose, for that matter. It will take some time before they realize I can't lose, he thought.
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