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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Casino chips

If you've ever been to a casino, you'll notice that the chips feel heavy to the hand. If you grew up like I did, playing with plastic chips was the standard before the poker craze, the weight catches you. But that's because in a casino, chips are made of clay and are meant to be handled.

Now, most people associate casinos with one thing, slots. My mother wouldn't play a table game if it walked over to her. She likes the slots, not video poker, slots. She could play slots for hours.

My father, the other hand, loves craps. I guess he perfected it in the Marines like millions of other people.

Me, otoh, I like blackjack and roulette. Baccarat tables are usually crowded with Asian gamblers betting a lot of fucking money in the world's easiest game, James Bond notwithstanding. Craps can be fun, but more on that later.

Ok, my birthday was last Sunday, I didn't mention it in the press of business, which ought to tell you something about how crazy things are. But the Friday before, my mother and I went to AC for the day. The ad sales had been good, so it wasn't a big deal. As a rule, we don't use site money for things like gambling or personal items like a TV. While some people could give a shit either way, I don't think it's right to take your hard earned money and piss it away at a casino. Kinda like Andy Sullivan still taking donations while making a deal with Time. How Atrios and Kos can live on ad money alone is beyond me. But then Republicans are ethically challenged.

Anyway, about a month beforehand, I'd gone to Mohegan Sun with my father. You now get the theme. The Gillard family likes games, video games, board games, and games of chance. I learned to play poker and blackjack at 8 and gin at 9.

Now, my father, who's had hip problems for 20 years, and walks with a cane, can play craps for hours on end. Hours.

The odd thing about casinos is that they're big enough to get lost in.

Mohegan Sun has two casinos , one called Earth and the other Sky. I think the main difference is that one is dark, the other light. Well, we split up and it took me literally two hours to find him.

Now, I like my casinos a bit dark. It's bad enough tripping up over the wheelchairs and walkers and Jazzymobiles of the elderly day trippers, but bright lights doesn't help matters. Now the thing about craps is that you get a mixed crowd, some young people, well, not that young, and then, while looking for my father, I saw two men with WWII Veteran caps on. Also when I did find my father, I saw him behind a sea of $25 chips. My mouth hung open. I was like "what the fuck"?

I had played a couple of hands of blackjack and just wasn't feeling it. You really have to be ready to sit down and play for at least $100 of chips, and seriously as well. You can't half-ass it and win any money. I don't mean card counting, just willing to pay attention and play the cards right.

Then I moved on to Roulette.

In a modern casino, there are a lot of card games, Carribean Stud Poker, Sic Bo, Pai Gow Poker, Three Card Poker, I call them sucker games. The rules and the odds tilt towards the house and the rules are arcane. You see people play them, but you don't see a lot of winning. And few happy faces.

So when I sat at the Roulette table, I bought some chips and bet the inside. Now, there are two kinds of roulette players, inside players and idiots. But more on that later.

When I tired of roulette, and caught up to my father, he was winning, Big. So after we ate, and the line was long and fast and free at the buffet, because we took the bus up, we went back to craps. And he kept winning. So when he got tired, we went to the simuilcast.

There is something degenerate about betting on dogs on a TV screen. I can't say what, but when you think casino, you don't think dog track. But I bet, and my father, a table man, was well, kinda bored, but I was enjoying it, placing my show bets, breaking almost even.

So, now with my birthday coming up, my mother wants to go to AC. Her back had been bothering her, and she won't go on Sundays, so she didn't go when I suggested she take the day down there.

We get on the bus and the prick bus driver starts moving as she's standing on the steps, and laughs. I shot him a dirty look and she sat down.

Anyway, we get down to AC, and go to the Showboat. I lose money at the Showboat. But we really went there for the buffet, but the line was ridiuclous. So we went to Resorts, which is down the Boardwalk. When I was a kid, AC seemed so much larger.

But we got something to eat and then split up, my mom to her slots, me to the roulettle wheel. Now, the house has good odds on roulette, but if you hit, you get $35 for every dollar bet on a number, and less if you play more than one number. You can bet up to six on the inside.

Anyway, I get some chips and start playing. Now, when I gamble, the hardest thing I'll drink is a coke. If I want to get drunk, I'll go to a bar. The casinos give you booze to increase your odds of doing something stupid with your money.

So I'm betting and this older guy gets $100 in chips and a marker. A marker is credit from the house, against a limit. In the old days, you'd get your legs broken if you didn't pay a marker in Vegas. Now, they just sue.

He must have gotten $1000 in markers as I played. But he was having fun. His wife, however, was intimidated by the table. Which I find odd. All you do is bet numbers , but I saw two different women, at two different casinos refuse to play while their husbands did.

Now, there is a stupid way to play roulette, which is by betting the outside, black/red. 1-18, 2-1 and so on. Now most roulette tables have a minimum bet, which is $10, which mean your bets must combine to be $10 on every spin.

How stupid is stupid?

I saw a man play $500 0n red three times in 20 minutes. He lost $1500 just that fast. Getting rolled by a hooker takes more time. Up would come the black chips, he would lose, get more money. If I had $500, I'd be fucking playing, not placing a 48-48-2 bet with it (O and OO don't count).

While I was breaking even, he was losing, as so was the marker guy. I was going to play something else, but you never leave when you win, because breaking even is a post-casino assessment.

Jen, otoh, did not grow up in gaming family, so casinos overwhelm her a bit, from what she says. But the fact is that I like casinos, they're actually fun, and you can play games and not lose your shirt. Walking away is as much fun as walking to the table. I mean, you can bet horses for $2 all day or play Keno or nickle slots or poker, even penny slots, yes, penny slots.

And if you spend you day writing and watching the news, a little action, even the manufactured action of a casino, is a change in pace. Even as you avoid the church groups of seniors on their way to the slots.

posted by Steve @ 9:17:00 AM