12.21.2005

297

- my +EV result in my first ever -EV game Let me make one thing clear: I don't fucking care what Sklansky says. I don't gamble. I don't get it. I don't have the gene that most of you seem to have in spades, the one that makes you drop an extra green chip on the hard ten and pray that you get paid on your sucker bet. (Let me make two things clear: I think no less of you that have it. It will probably make each of you a far better poker player than I can ever hope to be. Also on balance you will have a lot more fun with your money.) I don't know why I don't have it. Addictive personality, check. Perverse fascination with the intersections of skill, chance and knowledge, check. Obsessive-compulsive thought patterns, check fucking check and mate. Maybe it's that I never got the sports bug outside of an unhealthy amount of time at center ice with the Blackhawks in NHL '93 for the Genesis. In high school I enjoyed tennis, racquetball, and maintaining a firm glower that stopped me getting hipchecked into lockers for being a weirdo. I've never even put money on the home team out of a misguided sense of loyalty, as if my faithful bets would inspire even a second-stringer to pull over and give me a jump on some blizzarding January day. I gotta have an edge. I never put one dime into poker until I'd convinced myself that I knew enough about the game to have an edge. (I was wrong, but thankfully I am a quick study.) And while I recognize that yes, there are people who understand how and when to get their money down in the sports book, I am never going to be one of them. It might as well be roulette. Or craps. Or blackjack. All of this is by way of explaining that when I found myself at a blackjack table at four in the morning, greeting the fourth (and surliest) dealer ever to work our little corner of the ill-named Champagne Pit, I was a little surprised. Even more so to discover that I was winning. I'd stumbled down to the casino floor in search of something to salve my Bellagio-bruised ego, and come across the Full Tilt crew in full force: hdouble and the Mrs., ephro and Rick, each holding some sort of travel apparatus in one hand and a beer in the other. One hot dog later they'd divested themselves of luggage and looked ready for action. There wasn't much of anything happening in the IP's poker room - some dead-eyed tourists hunched over a 2/4 table, probably being shanked by incognito bloggers - so we headed back to the main casino floor. Blackjack was the consensus. Actually, beer was the consensus, blackjack just looked like the means to acquire beer. hdouble and ephro sat down at an empty $10min two-deck table and each dropped a couple hundred bucks on the felt, and after a pointless few minutes of resistance, so did I. I figured hdouble was my edge for the night. Note to self: when your edge ditches you after twenty minutes because he spies a hot craps table, you are on thin enough ice that you had better damn well learn to skate tout suite. Here's what I learned in my first five hours or so of blackjack: 1. In a two-deck game they want you to hide your cards from the other players, but not bend them like they're hole cards. 2. But if you hit 21 you might as well flip them up sooner than later. 3. Also there are beads. 4. If you are a clueless moron, it's fairly easy to get around the restrictions against showing your cards to other players, simply by waving them around and asking if you should hit a 20 against the dealer's 7. 5. Split a pair of 8s. When dealt another 8, split again. Then double when you get a 2 on one 8 and a 3 on another. Then wonder how you ended up with 37 times your original bet riding on the dealer not turning up something between a 5 and a 9. 6. When a skilled card-counter announces "Bet the farm!" that's the secret signal for the dealer to turn up a paint card or an ace. 7. Insurance is a big sucker bet. Just playing at all is only a small sucker bet and therefore draws from the power of having relatively positive EV. 8. It's hard to lose when you get a 20 for like an hour's worth of deals. Unless you're ephro.

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