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Last Updated: July 4, 2017

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The Ultimate System - Chapter 6

Developing a Strategy

After his windfall, at least by his standards, from the night before, David Landstrom showered and returned again to the casino floor. This time, however, he was armed with $2,140 in his wallet and another one-hundred and fifty something in the bank backing that up. David walked around the table games area and peaked in at the poker room where only one $1-$3 No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em game was being played, not that it mattered, anyway, he had barely ever played poker in his life.

David experienced a cognitive dissonance similar to that he felt the night before: On the one hand, he wanted to win more money, but, on the other hand, it was slowly occurring to him that he had no real idea how to effectuate that. He reasoned that he had a more substantial bankroll than ever with which to play, ‘The Ultimate System,’ on any game of his choosing, but then it occurred to him that he had won on the only occasion upon which he hadn’t employed the system.

David was off that Wednesday as well as the day after, however, which he believed would give him time to develop a new system that would prove even more impenetrable than had the previous version of, ‘The Ultimate System.’

Just a few hours later, David found himself despondently glancing around the basement and listening to the, ‘pit, pit, pit,’ of the droplets from the leaky pipe falling into his Country Crock butter dish. He rolled his chair over to the bed and used a T-Shirt to wipe the droplets of sweat that were forming on his forehead. After logging onto WizardofVegas.com and bragging about his successful night at the casino the previous night, of course without mentioning how much he was down or the fact that his success had exactly nothing to do with, ‘The Ultimate System,’ he opened up Google Drive and was trying to articulate into words a concept for a new craps system that had occurred to him.

He rolled back to his makeshift desk and refreshed the WoV Forums to see how many people had responded to his thread. He found that there were a few responses, all but one mocking any assertion that his system would ever work. One member extended a congratulations to him on his win from the night before, but also asserted that no betting system could ever work in the long run, so he should not be counting on that.

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A few uneventful weeks went by, and despite the newfound money David had, (which he neither spent nor deposited in the bank, though he had deposited most of his next two paychecks bringing him up to $1200 in the bank) he had not returned to the casino. Eventually, his Golden Goose Hotel & Casino mailer for the following month, which was just four days away, as he suspected he had not received one for the current month and he was dismayed to find that he still only had $20 in free play over each of five visits.

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Incensed, he called Nate Frazier and left a generic message. Surprisingly, David’s call was returned only fifteen minutes later, accepting the call David, charming as ever, opened with, "What the hell is going on?"

Nate hadn’t expected that sort of hostility, and in fact, had no idea what David had been calling about. He maintained his composure and responded, "It’s so nice to hear from you, David, may I ask what you mean?"

David was direct, "Look, I come into your casino and stay in the hotel and I had a good night, don’t get me wrong, but how am I going to play that much and only get five weeks of $20 in free play for each week? Where are all of my other offers?"

Nate asked David for his players club number and got into the system, "Well, David, you had $620 in free play the last time you were here which included $550 from the drawing and $50 I put on there. Unfortunately, when it comes to your average spend, all of that free play killed it. The spend ended up being less than nothing, of course, the system just calls it nothing."

David was thoroughly confused, "How can you say that? I spent money, I went down and played some craps after I played off that last $550 in free play."

Nate decided that the best route was to be straight up with David, "Look, as far as the system is concerned, you didn’t spend anything. I think the free play offers you got are just based off of the players club points you earned on that day. The system goes by something called Average Daily Theoretical, or ADT, it doesn’t matter to the system whether you actually win or lose, but what does matter is that the free play you got, as well as the other niceties, totalled WAY more than you essentially put at risk with your action."

David was dismayed, "I was betting $25 a hand at Craps!!!"

Nate had this conversation with many customers before, David would be neither the first nor the last, "Yeah, and if you’re expected to lose $25 a hand, then that’s a ton of money. As it stands, your total action on table games that day, even including when you lost at Let It Ride, was well under ten thousand dollars. I understand that sounds like a huge figure all at once, but as far as what the system credits you as, ‘Spending,’ your spend was not even a hundred bucks. If you look at that against a room, buffet and $620 in free play, I mean, do the math…"

David had some notion of how the concept of how Average Daily Theoretical worked by way of reading about it a little on the Wizard of Vegas Forums, but what confused him was that he could have lost a thousand dollars that night just as easily, if not moreso, as he had won it. While he grasped the concept that his play wasn’t really worth all that much to the casino, he couldn’t understand why the fact that he could have just as easily lost did not factor in.

"Nate," David asked, "What would you consider to be a good idea when it comes to the system liking me better and sending me better offers?"

"Listen, David," Nate said, "I can’t tell you what to play, but I will tell you that a little bit of slot play goes a long way. If you had taken the amount you bet on table games and put it through on slots, we’d be having a much different conversation, and I would have probably called you first."

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"I don’t really play slots," David replied. From his perspective, though, he had almost come up with a really simple modified Martingale that he thought would be successful, so he did want to make another stop at The Golden Goose to try it out. Besides that, he knew he would go in at least once every date range to get his free play. "Are you saying there’s nothing you can do for me?"

There was silence on the line for a few seconds as Nate pondered the effect that pandering to David might have on his expense account and commissions, he reasoned that David was more likely than not to incur an actual loss, so Nate might not lose as much on him as a player if he could get him back in. "I’ll tell you what David," then after another brief pause, "I can get you another room and a dinner buffet if you want it, but it has to be a weekday, and, even though I can check, I’m almost positive I can’t get you any extra free play approved."

David took the offer and accepted a reservation for a free room and dinner buffet for that Thursday, just three days away, with the schedule change at A Penny Saved, David was actually off three consecutive days, Wednesday-Friday, so he wanted to use Wednesday to play some of the free games on Wizardofodds.com and see how his system was holding up. He had apparently forgotten the speech about, ‘Real cards and real dice,’ that he had given a few months prior.

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He was scheduled for 13:00-21:00 at the deli both that day and the following evening, but Tuesday seemed to drag on like no other day before it. He spent the entire day in something of a daze, and with only fifteen minutes left before he had to clock out, realized that a vegetable tray had to be completed and ready to go for the following morning. Even though he was only supposed to do it for an, ‘Express Order,’ which this certainly wasn’t because he had all day to do it, David scanned in a bunch of the more expensive pre-sliced vegetables just so he could get the tray assembled in time.

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Of course, he knew he would hear all about that from Nick as soon as he walked in on Saturday, but he decided just to let Saturday deal with Saturday because he’d get in even more trouble for working past shift or, even worse, working off the clock, if caught.

Even though he was using vegetables that had already been cut, the tray still ended up being a far cry from the neatest that David had ever put together. Unfortunately, he only had three minutes until he had to punch out and one other meat slicer to hurriedly clean, so he labeled it and put it in the cooler. He rushed the cleaning of the slicer, and even though he could still see a couple of flecks of chipped ham on the blade, sprinted to the time clock as he had gone almost five minutes over and only had thirty seconds more to punch out without having to go to the office and request an override.

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David spent most of the following day playing the craps game on WizardofOdds.com with varied results, though he seemed to be winning more often than not. Naturally, it failed to occur to him that several dozen sessions on the free games at Wizard of Odds would hardly serve as a substitute for a simulation that could run his system with one million dollars in total bets, one million times, revealing, by necessity, that, ‘The Ultimate System,’ would ultimately lose each and every single time. Undeterred, David had bumped his bet up to $160 on the pass line when he heard a knock at the basement door.

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David minimized the game on the screen and arose, he walked across the concrete floor and opened the entrance from the basement to the yard to find Evan Blake looking at him, blue eyes shining as brilliantly as always. Evan Blake had almost certainly shown up to see how David was coming along with saving money, and David still had the $2,140 in cash from his trip to the casino as well as a bank account with a balance of $1,200, but he had no plans to share that information with Evan.

"We have to be looking good by now," Evan mused, "I have about three grand in the bank, how are you doing?"

"You know," David said, "Something went wrong with my Mom’s Social Security Check, and I know she’s going to pay me back, but I’ve had to cover the mortgage and everything else here last month and will probably have to this month. She’ll get the back money, of course, but until that happens, I’m almost tapped."

"That sucks," Evan muttered, "Nothing you can do about it, but I thought we might be looking good enough that getting a place within the next month or two would be possible."

David feigned resignation, "Nothing I can do about it right now until that back pay hits. Besides, I don’t remember saying that I am absolutely on board with this idea in the first place. Things are dirt cheap for me here, so I’m not sure I have any great interest in incurring substantial expenses on alternate living arrangements."

Evan nodded, "You said that, but don’t we need to be adults at some point?"

"I guess so, would you mind giving me a ride to the bank and back? I need to make a deposit."

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Evan waited in the car while David went into the bank. Even though it was a long shot, David couldn’t contain his excitement and was unable to wait any longer, he called up Nathan Frazier, who surprisingly answered on the first ring, "What’s up, David?"

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"Hey, Nate," David started, barely able to contain his excitement, "Is there any chance we can move that reservation from tomorrow night to tonight? Something came up for tomorrow, so it might either be that or cancel it if I can’t."

Fortunately, Nate was in his office at the time, "Hold on," he said to David as he called the front desk to make sure they had rooms for that night...even though he was positive they would on a Wednesday. A few seconds later, he picked his cell phone back up, "Okay, David, we’re good, come on in anytime."

David considered going back out to the car to tell Evan he was just going to walk back, but as he caught the teller desk out of the corner of his eye, he decided he’d better make a transaction first.

"Hello," David said to the teller, "I would like to withdraw one-thousand and two hundred dollars, please."

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David counted the contents of his wallet in near disbelief, just seconds after telling Evan to go ahead and head home: Thirty-three hundreds, two twenties, and a five. As much as he would have preferred to walk and save the money, he decided he didn’t want another incident of soaking wet clothing at the tables, so he called a cab and waited inside the bank. The total fare came out to $13.80, and unsurprisingly, David handed the driver a twenty and took his entire $6.20 back. His sum was now $3,331.20, plus a few dollars in the bank.

The first thing that David did was check in to his room, and then he went up to take a nap. He decided that, even though his system was fairly uncomplicated, he did not want to make any mistakes in its execution, so he wanted to be well-rested.

David got up and took a shower, upon getting out of the shower, the phone in his room rang. David couldn’t understand who would be calling him and answered the phone trepidatiously, "Hello?"

"Good evening, this is the front desk," said a pleasant female voice, "We had a request for extra pillows, but we aren’t sure if it came from this room or Room 402, and we apologize for that."

"It wasn’t this room," David snapped, "Maybe you should think about writing shit down next time, I was in the middle of something."

The female voice took on a tone that was half-exasperated and half-apologetic, "I apologize for the inconvenience, sir, have a good night."

David slammed the phone into the cradle in response. Apparently forgetting his rushed vegetable tray and sorry excuse for the way he cleaned the slicer from the night before, he said to noone in particular, "I’m sick of people who can’t do their jobs."

David briefly considered trying to leverage the interruption into some extra free play, but it occurred to him just as he was about to pick up his cell phone that he barely got the room and the buffet that night, so he decided to leave it alone. It was 7:30 by this time, and David realized the buffet would only be seating for another half hour, so he made his way down there.

David ate at the buffet uneventfully, though in a foul mood for no particular reason, the only words he spoke to his server were, ‘Root beer,’ despite his server’s attempts to make small talk. As it looked like David was ready to leave the server said, "Good luck to you," and David just grunted in response.

For no reason in particular, David went back up to his room and decided to lie down for a few minutes. A few minutes turned into an hour and a half, and David made his way down to the gaming floor at just before ten o’ clock.

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The first thing that he did was sit down at Winning Wolf and loaded his $20 in free play for that week. Unfortunately, once again betting $1.00/spin, David did not perform terribly well and only ended up cashing out for $5.60 off of the $20 in free play. Still, he had $3,336.80 to work with.

After that, David walked directly to the craps table and, after leaving only a single hundred dollar bill and all of the smaller bills in his wallet, he said, "$3,200, all black."

Nick was playing at the table that night, though Sammy was nowhere to be found. There were a few other locals who looked up as David announced the amount, and the stick, dealers and craps supervisor couldn’t help but barely suppress a little bit of surprise at the buy-in. While buy-ins of a thousand dollars weren’t entirely unheard of, they were somewhat rare, and anything more than that was a complete shock.

"Big spender," Nick mused.

"Big winner, Nick," David corrected, "Tonight, big winner."

The system that David had decided to employ was his most aggressive to date. He basically intended to start with a bet of $100 and work a Martingale-like system both ways on the pass line. If he won, then he would double his bet, and he would do the same if he lost. If he could win six more times than he lost, at least prior to losing five more times than he won, then he would have a bankroll in excess of $10,000. At least, that was the plan until he noticed that the table maximum was $1,000.

David pointed to the sign and asked, "Is there anything we can do about that?"

"The minimum," joked the supervisor, "Nope, sorry bud, can’t go below five bucks."

David was jittery, playing on WizardofOdds.com had yielded successes on over 60% of his attempts, but little did David know that he just experienced some short-term variance in his favor on running those attempts. Either way, he was not at all in the mood for an attempt at humor, "The maximum, bud, you know damn well what I meant."

The craps supervisor summoned the pit boss over and said, "Our friend here wants a maximum more than a thousand, is there anything we can do for him?"

The pit boss shrugged and said, "Two thousand."

David shook his head, "No, I need a maximum of three-thousand and two-hundred dollars."

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"You want to bet that all at once, leave if you win?"

"No," David replied, "I might bet that much at some point, though. I need the minimum to be that much."

"So," the supervisor began, "You’re buying in for $3,200, and you want the table max upped to $3,200, but you’re telling me you’re not planning to bet that $3,200 all at once?"

"I might play $3,200 at once," David replied, "But, no, I am not playing this $3,200 right away."

The pit boss mused for a minute and then stated, politely but firmly, "I can’t book that kind of bet without the permission of the Table Games Manager, and I might call him for this if you were buying in for ten grand, or something like that, maybe make the maximum $5,000. But, first of all, $3,200 is just a darn strange number, so I’d have to go five grand, but I can only go two grand without his explicit permission. I’m not going to call him on his only day off this week for this kind of buy-in, I’m sorry. If you want to take a $2,000 shot, then take your shot."

David pondered the situation for a moment, but then decided that he could just start the system over after the first success, "That’s fine, but you better believe I’ll be talking to him. I’ll also be talking to Nate about this. I’m buying in for $3,200 and you said you will go $2,000 max, correct?"

Much like the dealer from a few weeks back, the pit boss wondered exactly what the hell would make David think a junior host had so much direct control over the table game staff, "Yes, $2,000 maximum and please raise the min to $10. Approval to change $3,200."

"$3,200," the craps supervisor, who already had the stacks set out responded, "All black."

Nick DeMarco snapped out of the reverie caused by the fact that David Landstrom was not just buying in for over three thousand dollars, but had also requested the maximum go up to $2,000, "Hey, wait, boss, wait, I’m grandfathered, right? That ten dollar minimum doesn’t apply to me, does it? I’ve been betting five today!"

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The pit boss winked at DeMarco, "You know better, Nick, you could probably be walking up to the table just now and the ten dollar minimum wouldn’t apply to you."

"Thank you kindly, boss," Nick replied.

David fumbled through his chips briefly, Nick had been shooting, was in the middle of a hand, in fact, but he decided to wait until the dice came around to him. Usually the crew wanted to see a bet of some kind before giving a new player the dice, but for a $100 bet, David was betting they’d be a little more lax on that rule this time around.

David was positively sickened by the fact that, between Nick and the other two guys, he would have had six more wins than losses almost right away. That series would have been led off by DeMarco making three more points before a seven out, followed by the other two young guys who each made two points prior to sevening out. He could only shake his head and say, "Damn."

As the stick sent the dice David’s way, David wanted nothing more than to apologize to everyone at the table for the hold up, apologize to the pit boss for the inconvenience, and take his $3,200 directly to the cage and cash out. Nothing more, that is, other than to play his system. David placed a black chip on the Pass Line and fired the dice.

"Three, crap three," the stick intoned, "Take the line, pay the dont’s, three crap three, Acey-Deucey."

"Hardly a concern," mustered David with a false bravado. He again picked the dice up and fired.

"Snake eyes," the stick declared, "Snake eyes, crap Snake eyes, pay the dont’s take the line."

David was already at the point where he had to put out a $400 bet, his stomach tightened and twisted in nods, beads of perspiration formed on his forehead and trickled down nearly into his eyes, clutching the four black chips so tightly that they were already forming a welt on his fingers, he set them down neatly on the Pass Line and picked up the dice.

David was so nervous that he managed to throw both dice clear over the table. DeMarco, ever helpful, noticed that one had landed on the players’ side of the area while the other landed on the crew side, "I got the one over here," he declared.

David was exasperated and seriously considered just taking his $300 loss and heading for the hills, he went into some breathing exercise that he read about online several years back and was probably doing wrong. The breathing exercise did not comfort him at all, and his perspiration was visible from halfway across the room, at that point. His shirt clung to his back as he shook his head and said, "Same dice, I guess."

David took the dice into his hand and gazed into them as though he could force his will upon them. He tossed them from one hand to another as he considered whether or not to continue…

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"Sorry," the craps supervisor started, "One hand only. Your other hand has to be on the rack or behind it, but you can’t have two hands over the table."

David would usually have either a sarcastic or asinine response to the admonishment, but he was just short of losing consciousness at this point, looking up with glazed-over eyes he simply said, "Sorry,’ then pulled his left hand back.

David dropped the dice to the table with his other hand and then picked them back up and dropped them again. He could sense the frustration of the other players building as he did that one or two more times, but, he reasoned, none of those guys have $400 that could potentially be lost on this one roll. He looked at the other side of the table and let the dice fly…

"Seven," intoned the stick, "Seven winner, take the dont’s and pay the line!"

Just like that, David found himself up $100. This part of the system he designed called for him to revert back to a bet of $100, but to double the bet on either a win or a loss. He placed one black chip on the felt and let the dice go again…

"Yo!" The stick exclaimed, "Yo, yo, ‘Leven,’ that’s a front line winner. Pay the front line!"

David was now ahead $200, and that was the very next bet that the system called for. The system was actually an extremely simple Martingale that would revert to the base bet after a win followed by a Reverse Martingale for any consecutive wins that would occur after a base bet had been made. An exhilarated David promptly picked up and put the two black chips on the Pass Line and readied himself to receive the dice.

There was no dropping them and picking them back up this time, he flung them almost as soon as they hit his hand.

"Four," said the stick, "Easy four, one-three, mark it up, point is four!"

David looked around, exasperated, now he had established one of the two hardest points to hit. He momentarily thought about taking some odds on the four as they paid 2-to-1, but changed his mind as odds had nothing to do with the system he was working. After six rolls, David sevened-out.

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The dice made their way around again, and upon reflection, David realized that six more wins than losses wouldn’t necessarily do anything. With the $2,000 Maximum, the most that he could do was achieve six wins in a row and then bet the maximum, if he wanted to.

David was not betting anything while the other players shot, and while they were all shocked by the shot that he was apparently taking, they weren’t quite awe-inspired enough to keep the dice going back to him. That was especially true of Nick DeMarco, who seemed to increasingly legitimately believe that he had some control over the dice, he was going to shoot every time he got the chance.

David found himself stranded on David Island. He was only betting when the dice came back around to him, and somehow everyone seemed to sense that, one way or another, this was going to be a major session for him. Internally, Nick DeMarco, who had a very mixed opinion of David, and even one of the dealers, wanted to ask, "What the hell are you thinking?" Instead, the two of them said nothing while the two kids and the rest of the crew weren’t particularly concerned with David either way.

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"Listen," he heard the supervisor say, "Do you or do you not want to shoot?"

David broke out of his stunned reverie and looked up, locking eyes with the supervisor, who had apparently changed at some point, he replied, "Of course I want to shoot."

"Well," the supervisor stated, "If you would like to shoot, then you must place a bet, please."

David looked around at the table and realized that only one of the two kids were left. David had gone back and forth and tried to remember where he was in the session, he counted twenty-nine black chips which meant that his next bet had to be $400. He had bet $800 at one point that seemed forever ago, but the system had advanced no more than that in one direction or another. "Not this time, actually, next time it’s my turn. Will these chips be fine here?"

"Yes," the supervisor replied. Tossing the stick a hand towel, "Cover them."

The hand towel covered the chips and David checked his phone, the time was 1:32a.m. David was stunned to realize that he had been at the table for just over three hours, but it might have come as less of a surprise if he realized that he had only actually been in the action for under an hour total.

He went to the bathroom and thought about sitting down and gathering his thoughts for a moment, but that thought quickly left his mind as everything that he had eaten in the buffet came up with an incredible, WHOOSH, that was impossible to hold down. Fortunately, he had gotten his head over the toilet bowl just in time and a very minimal amount made its way to the floor with the rest landing safely inside of the bowl. Just as he was about to flush, a second eruption made its way up and now, more light-headed than ever, David slumped against the stall door.

When he had finally partially recovered, David stood up and went over to the sink and rinsed out his mouth and wiped around his face. He wanted to grab a towel to dry his face off, as well, but then he remembered that The Golden Goose only had air dryers in the bathrooms. "Screw it," he muttered, and dried his hands and face with his shirt. He splashed another handful of water in his eyes to try to clear them and dried his face on his shirt again.

After about ten minutes, he finally returned to the craps table and the cloth was removed from bis chips. "Good timing," said the stick, "The dice are yours if you want them."

"Sure thing," David replied, strangely he actually felt much better after the ordeal in the bathroom, "Send them over."

David placed four black chips on the Pass Line and immediately rolled a seven, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner," he exclaimed, but then he really thought about what a chicken dinner entailed and had to hold back a third eruption that fought to bring itself up, "Can I get a bottle of water?"

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The cocktail waitress had actually just passed by the craps table, but the craps supervisor raised his voice just so she could hear it at the Blackjack table she was servicing, "Can this gentleman have a bottle of water when you come back?" The cocktail waitress looked over and nodded.

Just like that, David was up $100 again, which called for a bet of $100. He put the black chip on the Pass Line and rolled another seven.

After establishing a point of six, making it, then rolling back to back come out winners, David had a choice now that he could either take a $1600 profit, or he could place a bet of $1,600 and would be starting from scratch if he lost. It occurred to him that this was the first opportunity that the adjusted table maximum came into play, and the very notion that the maximum was changed for him and that they had a reason to do that, made the decision obvious. He neatly stacked sixteen black chips, picked up the dice, and fired…

"Acey-Deucey, Crap, Acey-Deucey," the stick said, "Take the line and pay the dont’s." Almost against his will, as he had been the recipient of some of David’s snider comments in the past, he looked over and said, "I’m sorry you didn’t win that one."

David wasn’t all that sorry, though. He was closer on the winning side than he had ever been on the losing side, even though it was only one decision closer, and that convinced him that he would be successful in his quest to win out and make the maximum bet of $2,000.

For one reason or another, the reason probably having something to do with running out of money, the other kid that had been playing at the table left while David was in the bathroom, so it was just he and Nick at the table now.

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"Where are you at," inquired Nick.

"Dead even," said David, "Things are looking promising, though."

"Even after that $1600 hit?"

"What about a hit? I just said I’m even."

"Well, yeah," Nick half-agreed, "But, you could have taken that money and ran. I think that you probably would have still gotten a decent rating for this session, too, they probably have you as playing the whole time. I doubt they really care about when you’re not betting as long as you bet every time you have the chance to shoot."

David thought about what Nick had said, somehow getting a good rating and getting comps had also become a goal in and of itself, "Yeah, but it’s too late for that now, isn’t it?"

"It’s not too late to leave even, or if you must bet, bet on the rolls of a skilled shooter."

"Where are you at tonight, Nick?"

"I suppose I am down about fifty tonight."

"At what point will the skill come into play?"

"Don’t worry about that," Nick began, "I’m pretty sure all of my losses came from betting when those kids were shooting. If it was just me, I’d be ahead."

"You’re betting on my shot, too, do you think that’s hurting you?"

"Hell, no, you’re even, how could it be? Actually, you’ve made plenty of fours and tens, and I take the full ten times odds, so I’m almost definitely ahead on your shooting."

David looked at Nick and said, "It sounds like you’re doing your accounting and are about to call it a night."

Nick shrugged, yawned, then replied, "I think so. Take care of yourself and don’t lose too much, better yet, don’t lose at all. Don’t win, either. Just take my cue and call it a night."

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Surprisingly, David heeded Nick’s advice and decided to retire to his room for the rest of the night. He flipped through a few channels, but eventually fell asleep with the TV on. He woke up at about 4:30a.m. just with it enough to turn the TV off, but then immediately fell back asleep until 12:30p.m.

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He woke up well-rested, yet disoriented, and he couldn’t believe that the housekeepers hadn’t disturbed him given the time. He called Nate up, once again, Nate answered immediately, "Hey, Nate, can I get a late check out?"

"Good morning, David," Nate replied, "First of all, you can call the front desk for a late check out, you don’t need to call me for that. Secondly, isn’t it already after check-out time? Finally, if you’re interested, I just reviewed your play and can give you another night plus a lunch and dinner buffet, or one buffet and $20 dining credit, whichever you prefer."

David thought about the proposition for a moment and it occurred to him that he didn’t have anything in particular going on that day, "The buffets will be good, and yeah, I’ll stay another night." David couldn’t help but be eager to take another shot at the craps table after breaking even the night before, especially after he was so close to winning the $1,600 bet. Even a loss on the $2,000 bet would have still seen him $1,200 ahead.

"That sounds good," Nate responded, "I’ll call the front desk for you now, if you’re good with the same room."

"Yeah," David said, "The room’s fine."

David grabbed a shower and then went downstairs to grab his lunch buffet. He made it a point to stay away from anything that he had also had the previous day, even though he was positive that the food had absolutely nothing to do with him becoming ill.

He returned to his room and puttered around eventually watching one of the many copycat Judge Judy daytime court shows that played in the early to mid afternoon. One turned into two and, even as David was trying to convince himself that he was kind of into them, he had to admit to himself that he would rather play again with Nick DeMarco at the table. He wasn’t sure why, and he certainly wouldn’t make it a point to ever bet on DeMarco’s shot again, but he had a feeling that he would have lost the $3,200, and maybe the other $136.80 he had, had Nick not talked him out of continuing to play.

Today was a new day, though, and David felt pretty good. He even managed to turn on some exercise show and went with the movements he saw on the TV, or at least a reasonable facsimile of them, for no fewer than forty-five seconds. He flipped around again and watched the end of some goofy Chevy Chase movie playing on AMC, and then made his way to the five o’clock news. The lead story involved a robbery at A Penny Saved during which the bank that was located within the store was apparently held up. The robber, however, was apprehended just a few blocks away as someone from the store was able to get the make and model of his vehicle before he left the parking lot.

David found the whole thing particularly curious as his was not a high crime area, and the city had one other A Penny Saved location that was in what was considered a worse area. Either way, the robbery wouldn’t have affected him personally as the bank was nowhere near the deli.

David then watched the weather report which called for a 100% chance of thunderstorms that evening, but that didn’t matter to him, it’s not like he would be going outside anyway.

After watching the weather report, David decided to go downstairs and enjoy the dinner buffet. Given last night’s event in the bathroom, he was a little concerned about eating too much for lunch and ate very gingerly during that meal. While David had no plans on absolutely pigging out for dinner, and would continue to avoid food types that he had the night before, he did believe that his stomach could handle substantially more than he had for lunch. He also didn’t want to get hungry again, because if he did, he would actually have to spend money to get something.

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David made his way down to the buffet and found the pizza surprisingly good. The pizza was actually awful, but since David was largely comparing it to the frozen pizzas that he was used to, he assumed that it was actually quite good. All but completely ignoring the other food, David ate the equivalent of three frozen pizzas and drank nearly a half gallon of root beer which, once again, were the only words that he spoke to his server. He really didn’t consider his behavior rude, per se, just efficient. Small talk between the two would be meaningless, the only thing the server really cared about was what David wanted to drink, and that was also the only thing David cared about.

David then returned to his room after first passing the craps table and seeing that Nick DeMarco had not yet arrived. He had left his phone upstairs and noticed the message indicator light blinking, not used to anyone messaging him without him first contacting them, David clicked his phone on and recognized Nate’s number in his missed calls. He checked his voicemail and heard the following:

Hey, David, this is Nate, your host from The Goose. I just wanted to let you know that you have some drawing entries again tonight. I can’t guarantee anything, in fact, you know the odds against being drawn are pretty long, but I gave you entries equivalent to what our top tier, ‘Egglayers,’ card would get you. Call me if you need anything, good luck tonight.

David went downstairs and immediately activated his entries, the next drawing would be at seven o’clock and he waited around for that. He didn’t have any free play, unfortunately, and Nick DeMarco still wasn’t at the craps table, so he just puttered around and waited the ten minutes for the drawing. Unfortunately, his name wasn’t called and everyone who was called reported to the promotions stage. He yawned and walked back to the craps table hoping Nick would be there, but the only regular at the time was old Sammy, other than him, one of the two kids from the night before had returned and there were two guys that David didn’t recognize at all.

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David went back up to the room and watched the rest of Wheel of Fortune followed by Jeopardy. Playing along, he realized that he was either surprisingly good at Jeopardy, or he just drew a ton of favorable categories. He kind of wondered about what it might take to get on the game and decided that, since he was off tomorrow, he would take a look online and see what becoming a contestant entails. He almost drifted off to sleep as some crappy sitcom came on, but then he decided that he had better go check the craps table one more time.

Making his way downstairs, David was pleased to see that Nick DeMarco was at the craps table along with his NBA player friend, what was it? Magic-something? No, that’s Johnson, not a no-name guy. David was a bit embarrassed and actually a little ashamed to not remember the guy’s name, after all, he was an NBA player, David was a nobody, and he spoke to David very nicely. David jumped on Google and looked up the Pacers roster, he knew that much, and then saw that the gentleman’s name was Malcolm Jones.

For one of the first times in his life, David strolled up with a genuinely amicable greeting, "Hey Nick, hey Malcolm, evening Sammy, how goes it for you guys tonight?"

"Just got here," Nick intoned.

""Same here," Malcolm said.

"I’m getting fuckin’ clobbered," said Sammy, in his characteristic straightforward manner.

"There’s always time to turn it around, Sammy," David said, smiling.

None of the other three men could understand the sudden change in David, but it was certainly welcome. They were used to him coming up to the table with a sarcastic attitude and basically berating the dealers and other players alike, so even if his pleasant greeting was delivered a bit awkwardly, it was certainly an improvement from his usual attitude.

______________________________________________________________________________

David bought in for $3,220 on this occasion, and once again, requested that the minimum be raised to $3,200. The same pit boss was there and she shook her head, "That’s a highly specific number and would just look bizarre on the screen, I also asked the Table Games Director earlier today and he said that $2,000 is the most we are ever going to do on craps, unless Caesar’s buys us out or something. We just don’t usually book that kind of action, I’m sorry, do you realize someone betting the maximum could take twenty-thousand dollars in odds?"

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Odds, strangely enough, remained entirely absent from David’s strategy, but he did understand that even at a $2,000 maximum, the casino could take a much bigger hit than they are used to. Just one odds bet coming in at $20,000 with a $40,000 win on a four or a ten would probably be enough to offset the table’s entire profit for a week, if not longer. "It’s okay," David said, "Two grand is fine with me."

Once again, the pit boss looked at the craps supervisor and said, "Two-thousand dollar maximum, and also raise the minimums to ten bucks," she looked up at the other players at the table, "Yes, all of you are grandfathered in at the five dollar minimum unless you leave the table for longer than an hour."

"Thirty-two twenty," the craps supervisor dutifully shouted.

"Change three-thousand two-hundred and twenty dollars," came the response.

"Thirty-two black and four red," David said.

"You got it," replied the supervisor, as he sent the chips to the dealer to push out.

David held one of the red chips in the air not believing what he was about to do, he almost changed his mind, but as if he was no longer fully in control of himself he tossed it at the supervisor, "Lock it up."

"Very generous, David," the supervisor responded, "Thank you."

David waited for the dice to come to him before placing any bets and started again with his $100 bet on the Pass Line. He picked up the dice and twirled them between his fingers, showing a surprising amount of dexterity, before he sent them down the table…

"Yo, ‘Leven, Yo," said the stick, "Front-Line winner, Yo, take the dont’s!"

While the session might have started with a win, David established a point of five on the very next roll with another $100 bet out, and that losing, he found himself back to even. With more players at the table than the night before, it took David considerably longer to get his hands on the dice. When he finally did, he rolled back to back come out crap numbers and then missed on a point of six.

David shook his head, "Not good," he said.

Malcolm looked up at him, "You sound deathly serious over there, man, you know this is a fun game, right?"

David glanced up at him, "Thanks for the reminder, Malcolm, I’ll do my best."

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David recalled Malcolm’s shooting from the last time they shared a table and decided to bet on his shot. A come out roll of seven brought David back to $100 ahead, but the follow up $100 bet lost as Malcolm missed on a point of eight.

David counted his chips just to make sure he was doing everything right, "Yup, it’s all there."

Nick looked over at him, "Is everything alright, David? You sure count your chips a lot."

David looked over at him, "I’m trying really hard to be nicer to people from now on, just let me handle my business over here for right now, please."

After a few particularly long rolls, one of them by Nick which doubtlessly cemented his confidence in his dice controlling abilities, the dice finally made their way back to David. Putting the starting bet of $100 out there, he proceeded to roll a come out seven-winner, followed by a come out crap number, then a made point, followed by a missed point. He looked around the table and said, "I can’t win, but I can’t lose, either."

Even though he wasn’t sure the statement would cross the line of being, ‘In David’s business,’ Nick DeMarco couldn’t help but say, "You’ll do one or the other eventually, I just hope it’s not the latter of the two."

David once again bet on Malcolm’s shot, but the latter established a point and sevened out three rolls later. The result was that David’s next bet had to be $200. David remained steadfastly unwilling to bet on anyone’s shot other than Malcolm’s or his own, unfortunately, the young kid from the night before rolled a seven-winner as soon as he got the dice and then proceeded to nail a four-point Fire Bet with one of the points repeating.

Oh my God, David thought, that would have been it!

The next shooter performed uneventfully and David got the dice back and put down his $200 bet. He first lost that bet to a come out crap roll of Acey-Deucey, and then immediately lost another $400 by way of throwing Midnight, another come out crap. He had $2,515 of his buy-in left and was preparing to make an $800 bet, he wasn’t too nervous, though, as he’d been in this situation before.

Nick asked, "Do you really want to do that?"

Malcolm added, "Yeah, man, you said stay out of your business, but that’s a bigger bet than I would ever make at this game."

"It’s all good," David said, "Don’t worry."

David couldn’t help but worry, though, as he fired off a point of ten on the very next roll. Praying to every God he could think of, and none of whom he believed in, David fired the dice thirteen more times before finally hitting another ten and getting back to $100 ahead. An established point of five that was missed three rolls later changed all that, though, and David found himself back to even.

David bet $100 on Malcolm’s roll, and Malcolm hit a come out seven. David removed one of the black chips would put him back to even if Malcolm lost at any point after this, but miraculously, Malcolm rolled two more consecutive sevens and David now had a bet of $400, the right way, on the table. Malcolm went on to establish a point of nine and make it seven rolls later. David pressed his Pass Line bet up to $800.

"You could pick that up," Nick suggested.

"I could have picked it up before the last roll, too," David retorted, "And I would have $400 less than I do now, wouldn’t I?"

The table limit increase came into play again as Malcolm rolled a come out seven. David let his $1,600 in black chips ride as Malcolm fired the dice down the table and established a point of four.

"That’s an ugly one," David said, "But, I think you can hit it."

"Hell," replied Malcolm, "Four is my favorite point, well, that and ten. I like putting down $100 and getting $200 back."

"Maybe you should bet the field, then," Sammy jokingly suggested.

Beaming, Malcolm replied, "Piss off, Sammy!"

The jubilation quickly subsided as the first die to hit the felt stopped on four meaning that the only result could be a seven-out or Malcolm rolling again, the second die careened off the chips and spun on its axis for just a second before stopping on three.

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David gasped as he watched the $1,600 in chips being whisked away by the dealer. It may have been true that he was back to even, but it sure didn’t feel like it. At the same time, he couldn’t help but reflect that he had enjoyed the ups and downs---other than the vomiting---that he had experienced in the last two days, and other than the $5 toke, he had eaten at the buffet three times, had his hotel room for a second night, and had not lost anything at all.

While David didn’t smoke, he sucked in air and blew it out as though he was smoking. As heartbreaking as that loss was for him, he was absolutely ready to try it again.

After about ten minutes, David got the dice back and placed his $100 Pass Line bet, confidently shooting the dice down the table, he was actually surprised when a crap three and immediate loss of the bet came the result. He placed the $200 bet out there without hesitation and established a point of eight, which he would go on to miss five rolls later.

It was Malcolm’s turn with the dice, once again, and David put out his $400 bet. Malcolm fired off snake eyes and David was down $700 with the Martingale calling for a bet of $800 to come next. His fingers flitted through his rapidly dwindling chip stack, and with a shaking hand, he almost had to use his left arm to force his right to put the bet out.

Malcolm rolled another crap number, this time a three.

David was down $1500 and the next bet in the system called for him to put $1600 of his remaining $1715 out there. He was absolutely petrified, "Wait, wait, wait," he said hurriedly, "Can you give me a second, Malcolm?"

Malcolm looked at him, "What for?"

"This might be it," David replied, "This could be it if the next roll is any kind of a loss. This is the first time that this has happened, but I’ve almost won on this bet twice the other way. I just need to decide whether to do this on your shot or mine."

"I hope you’re not going to hold me responsible," Malcolm said. Tilting his head towards Nick, "He’s the one who claims to have some control over the dice."

"No, not responsible," David near-whispered, "It’s just...I don’t...I don’t even really want...I’m going to wait until it’s my turn to shoot. Sorry for the delay."

"No worries, man," Malcolm said, "This is a bigger game for you than it is for me."

David almost had a repeat of the previous night’s bathroom incident as he watched Malcolm establish a point of ten...and then make it on the very next roll.

David couldn’t bring himself to make his last bet on Malcolm’s hand, though Malcolm did go on to roll two more seven winners followed by making a point of six before establishing a point of five and sevening out. Malcolm tried to joke, "I would have taken responsibility for that, I guess."

David barely heard the joke, but recognized that Malcolm’s tone was joking, "Heh. Right?"

The dice came back around to David all too quickly, even though it had been nearly fifteen minutes. In a repeat performance from the night before, David asked for his chips to be covered so he could go to the restroom. He didn’t vomit on this occasion, rather, he washed his face and stared at his bald, bespectacled, obese and pimply complexion for a full two minutes. He knew what he had to do, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. There was really only one decision that he should make and he was just about to do the opposite.

He was about to return to that table and do the opposite of what he knew was right.

______________________________________________________________________________

Back in his hotel room, David returned to staring at himself in the mirror. He couldn’t believe that he had done what he just did and was sickened by it, yet he felt an undeniable sense of relief.

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David had left the bathroom on the casino floor in a complete daze and had wandered back to the craps table. While he wanted to make his decision immediately, he couldn’t do it until the dice had gotten back to him. The dice had actually made their way all the way back to Malcolm by the time he returned, and there were also two new players at the table. The result of that, and a few solid rolls, was that David had to wait for nearly a half hour for the dice to return to him.

David put his sixteen black chips on the table and took a long look around at everybody. Malcolm was staring at him intently, Nick was looking down and appeared to be softly shaking his head, Sammy appeared to be half-asleep. David played with the dice a little bit, softly rolling first one die and then the other right in front of him. After what seemed like a few moments but was actually only a few seconds, he looked at the supervisor and said, "I’m going to call it a night," picking up his chips from the layout he continued, "Go ahead and pass them to Malcolm."

David thought about it for a minute and grabbed the other three red chips, throwing them in he said, "For the crew."

"Extremely generous, David, thank you," said the supervisor.

David cashed out the seventeen remaining black chips for $1,700 and, combined with the $116.80 that was still in his wallet, realized that he had a total of $1,816.80. While that wasn’t a great spot compared to earlier in the day, David consoled himself by constantly saying, out loud, "This is more money than I had last month."

All the while, David couldn’t help but think that the next roll would have been a seven. It had to be, there was just no way that he would lose on five consecutive decisions, even though simple math would have told him that such a result, in actuality, probably should have happened at some point already.

David had been in the room for awhile, and glanced at the clock, 1:42 a.m.. He switched on some crappy movie that would only ever play on late night and half watched it while he contemplated going back down to the craps table. After another half hour, David did return to the casino floor only to find that craps had closed up shop for the night. He didn’t realize it, but a good deal of the excitement at the table that night was watching his struggle, and while everyone at the table would forget about it the next time they had a crap session, David leaving largely took the wind out of the sails that night.

David went to the kiosk to see if anything at all was on there and realized, somehow, that he had earned $10.00 worth of points. The food court was still opened and David ordered a burger and fries which effectively used up all of his points. Either way, he was happy to be able to get something to eat without paying for it. He finished his dinner after dinner, then returned to his room and went to sleep.

______________________________________________________________________________

David awoke multiple times during the night tossing and turning after dreams of increasing strangeness. Every time he woke up, he spent several minutes, even an hour, at one point, lamenting his decision not to place that bet. He felt that he was in limbo now, he couldn’t go back to the table and open up with a bet of $1,600, even though he didn’t know why, but he didn’t feel as though anything had been completed.

It occurred to him that, despite the fact that he had lost a substantial sum of money overall, had vomited twice and nearly vomited several other times, that the last two days were the best time he had ever had. He certainly wished the results would have been better, but never in his life had he felt such exhilaration. He eventually decided that he wasn’t even necessarily scared of losing the $1,600 that he would have put on that bet, he was scared of his experience of the last two days ending.

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Eventually, around six in the morning, David found a deep sleep. He finally awoke at about eleven-thirty and grabbed a quick shower. He thought about calling down to request a late check-out when his room phone rang.

He was, once again, surprised by this development, "Hello?"

"I have some good news for you, David," Nate said from the other end of the line, "After reviewing your play, and due to a reservation cancellation from earlier, I can actually let you keep the room tonight if you are interested. I will also give you either two buffets or one dinner buffet and a $25 food credit. It’s up to you."

Even after regretting not placing that final bet, and then changing his mind and regretting that the experience had to end, David was utterly mentally drained from the events of the last couple of days. Even though he would never admit it, he really wanted to just go back to his basement, or maybe grab lunch with Evan Blake before the latter went to work, or really, be anywhere except The Golden Goose Hotel and Casino. At the same time, The Golden Goose Hotel and Casino was the only place that he really wanted to be. It also occurred to him that he had to work the next day, so the smartest thing to do would be just to relax at home, or maybe hang out with Evan, and try to get to bed early and wake up at a reasonable time.

"I’ll take the two buffets, thanks Nate."

Go back to chapter 5.

To be continued in chapter 7.

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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