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Gambling: Why I Dont Believe In Luck

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As 1 have said so many times, I don't believe in luck. People make their own luck. My philosophy is, and has always been, that I wouldn't care if a zebra dealt the cards, or if a monkey rolled the dice. I tell you this as a preamble to two memorable episodes I witnessed during two blackjack sessions at Atlantic City casinos.

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The first was at the Showboat, where I was sitting a couple of spots away from a loud-mouthed kid, whom I immediately pegged as a novice. Yet the way the cards were coming his way, he didn't have to know much. From the very first deal he was off-and-running.

He just couldn't lose. He turned up blackjack-after-blackjack, and when he missed a blackjack he got 20s and 21s. He wasn't betting big, the dumb kid wouldn't budge over the one-green-chip minimum, even though he won hand-after-hand-after-hand.

Even playing it so close to the vest, he still had a fairly decent pile of chips in front of him by the end of the shoe. He showed a very cavalier, take-it-for-granted attitude about what had happened as he leisurely picked up his chips and wandered over to a craps table. I never saw the kid again, but I'm pretty sure no matter how many more blackjack tables he gambles at for the rest of his life, this singular episode will stand out as his One Shoe of Fame. I only hope the kid appreciated it. I did.

The second episode happened in the $25-minimum blackjack pit at the Atlantic City Sands. Taking the two contiguous seats at "first base"—I play two hands—I found myself next to a flashily dressed Italian lady who must have applied Chanel No. 5 with a garden hose. To nail down my spot prior to the dealing of the shoe, I put a green chip on each of the two open spaces. I could see Miss Naples was visibly annoyed—she obviously wanted my other spot— but with a typical Latin shrug of the shoulders she settled down with her single spot. In retrospect I would have been overjoyed to have given her that second spot. Financially, I would have been far better off. On the other hand, Miss Naples, limited to her solitary spot, began her spectacular run, something she or I will never forget. Never, but never, have I seen so many blackjacks in the run of a shoe. After her fourth blackjack in a row even she became a little uneasy with the unreality of it all.

If I myself hadn't happened to cut the cards on that particular shoe I would have sworn that the fix was in. It was truly one shoe for the books! And the lady was a High Roller. The table had a $2,500 limit, and she often bet the limit. It was mind-boggling to see her rake in all those purple and yellow chips as the piles of chips before her just grew higher and higher.

When the shoe was finished, the pit bosses came around to survey the damage. The figure bandied about was $62,000—all from that one shoe. During the entire run of the shoe I recall her only losing maybe four or five hands, a stunning streak. (No, it never happened to me. I never even came close.) Was I jealous? You're damn right I was. Why, oh why, couldn't it have happened to me? Some day my turn will come. . . .

Can it happen to you? Sure, it can. I only recount these two episodes to show you that it can happen to someone.

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