I often think to myself, “Where can I find discourteous dealers, poor service, and unattractive cocktail waitresses? Where can I go to hear hundreds of old people complain at once, like a cantankerous symphony orchestra? Where are their overpriced restaurants that serve microwave entrees and hire foreign waiters that don’t know what orange juice is? Most importantly, I’m looking for invulnerable 8-deck blackjack games with rules that heavily favor the casino. Does a magical place like this exist?”
Then it hits me.
Atlantic City: “America’s Favorite Playground“
11:00 am: Atlantic City
Sitting on the stool at the left end of a blackjack table, I waited for the dealer to finish the ridiculous card shuffling/inspection procedure that takes place before a table can open. The rest of the early morning degenerate gamblers and I continued to wait, since this dealer was particularly slow. One man remarked, “I could give birth faster than this.” A good laugh was had by all, except the dealer. Middle-aged Hungarian women have no sense of humor.
Mercifully, Helga shifts to another lucky table and is replaced by someone who can count two cards at a time. Everyone nods in approval and orders more hard liquor from the cocktail waitress.
Eventually, play begins. The dealer immediately draws a 10 and ace. The players groan in unison, then each man mumbles quietly before looking at the other players in a clockwise motion, shaking his head and pounding his right hand against the table. Each time the dealer pulls a good hand, we repeat this process like synchronized swimmers.
An effeminate bald man in a skintight powder blue shirt sat down with us. He placed his bet, received a hand totaling 12, and began to cry out, “Show me a nine and I’ll drink some wine!”
“Show me a nine and I’ll drink some wine!”
He prepared to hit his hand of 12 against the dealer’s 10. The rest of us silently cursed the hate crime legislation that prevented us from pummeling him.
“Can I get a glass of wine this early Randy?” he said, wrists flopping around furiously.
Randy, our distinguished pit boss, mumbled something unintelligible while shaking his toupee.
The dealer dealt him a queen for a total of 22. The wine was not necessary.
“Do you play a lot?” he asked, turning to me.
I replied by wiping my nose with my sleeve.
“I don’t mean to interfere, but you’re messing up your betting strategy,” he said.
Facts and mathematics have never stopped certain intrepid blackjack players from playing their hunches, and many of these imbeciles are happy to share their knowledge. Without the gambling jargon, the conversation would go something like this:
Player: “I’ll split these.”
Advice guy: “No, never do that with those cards. What you should do instead is flush your chips down the toilet. Then light your remaining money on fire and slam your genitals in a car door. After that, I’ll punch you in the kneecap. See why that’s better? Hey, I’ve been playing this game a long time.”
Player: “I’ll split these. Look, I won.”
Advice guy: “You got lucky that time.”
To amuse my fellow gamblers at the other end of the table, I decide to humor the blue-shirted fruit with the ‘betting strategy’ advice.
“What don’t you like about my betting?” I asked.
Excitedly, he shared his betting system. But it was more than just a betting system. It was more like a philosophy of life. “When you win, you should be moving those bets up to thirty or forty. That way you can parlay it into a big win. I was up $500 last night doing that.”
“Uh huh. How much have you won this morning?” I wondered out loud.
“Well, I’m down so far this morning.”
Several of us at the full table mockingly feigned surprise.
The complete attention of the pit boss is fun for any card counter, and nothing gets the attention of Randy and his hairpiece faster than candid discussions about betting strategy. However, even Randy must know that it is impossible to win at blackjack with a betting strategy unless the player is also counting cards. Just in case, he’ll watch us a little more closely. I attempt to change the subject by asking Randy how long the $10 Van Halen chips have been around, then hint that the chips must be hard to get rid of because they have Sammy Hagar on them. A good laugh was had by all, as Sammy is a walking punch line.
Next, the effeminate man was dealt two tens, and the man directly to his left was dealt an ace. He protested, reasoning that it should be his ace because he had intended to split the tens, a move that hasn’t been attempted since the 1950’s, when telepathy was an acceptable playing strategy and blackjack was a guy who worked at the shoe store.
“Randy, he passed me up without even a hand signal. I was going to split those,” he said, deciding against the more accurate statement of ‘Randy, I’m trying to scam you.’
Our dealer — an angry fellow who had taken over for the Hungarian lady — looked at the guy in a way that expressed his displeasure. The rest of us looked towards Randy and waited to see what he had to say to the guy who was holding up the game.
“You can split them, but you’re not getting that ace, I’ll tell you that,” Randy replied. And that was that.
The game moved along until a few hands later when the effeminate man was dealt two more tens and shouted to the dealer, “Wait, I want to split those! Ah, Just having a little fun with you!”
Our dealer answered, “Do I look like I’m having fun?”
I think we’ve found a new slogan for the A. C. Expressway welcome sign.
Welcome to Atlantic City: America’s Favorite Playground
Welcome to Atlantic City: Do I Look Like I’m Having Fun?