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At this moment, from the corner of my eye I saw an older, heavyset man in the pit—he, too, materialized out of nowhere— elbowing the lady dealer aside. With the deft hands of an old-time "sawdust" casino pro, he deftly changed my chip colors for me. By this time, Smiley, to my left had finished his breathless canned promo, which had been delivered in one long run-on sentence. The heavyset man in the pit had vanished as fast as he had appeared.
The smiling man then rose, continuing his mile-a-minute spiel, while rapidly backing away. In a moment he had disappeared into the casino crowd. It didn't dawn on me until later that this effusive, overeager casino executive, who so gushingly offered to lavishly comp me, never offered his card, a de rigueur ritual of casino hosts.
The total time elapsed for the above little drama probably didn't exceed thirty seconds.
Now I took stock of my chips. The heavyset older man had changed more than my colors—he also changed the amount. As I played, I always kept a rough running total of what I was winning, how far I was ahead. Since my philosophy of gambling is not to be greedy, I make it a point to never, but never, try to win more than my table stakes. This time my table stakes were $2,000, and I figured I had more than double that in chips, for a sensational $2,000 or $2,500 hit, one of my biggest ever there.
Now 1 looked at my chips, and then up at the lady dealer. Rarely have I seen a more conflicted, guilty, pained expression on a person's face,- she seemed ready to collapse.
I counted the chips in front of me. There was my $2,000 seed money, but instead of my $2,000 to $2,500 in winnings I counted only $1,050. The heavyset man had repossessed half my winnings or more for the Gong casino!
Stunned, I just sat there for a minute or two, trying to reconstruct exactly what had happened, trying to comprehend this double-fisted, thirty-second ambush. Was it possible that a major casino in Atlantic City would pull such a relatively penny-ante robbery? I could understand bringing in a "mechanic," but not blatantly mugging me, and right in front of my eyes!
There was an abrupt shift change, and a different dealer took over. My lady dealer avoided my eyes as she hastily exited the table. Still in shock, I looked at my watch and realized I had a bus to catch. Dejectedly, I cashed in my chips and then taxied over to the bus terminal. Once on board, I was able to think more clearly. I rewound that unbelievable thirty-second heist over and over again in my mind. I suddenly realized that 1 didn't really have to take the 3 o'clock bus—buses to New York ran every hour. What 1 should have done was immediately go over to the Casino Control Commission official in the casino, who would have promptly reviewed the videotape of the action at the table, and then justice would have been done. Or would it? Not according to the explanation—excuse?—I got later.
Now in New York, and thinking more lucidly, I waited until 9:00 the next morning, a Friday, and called the main office of the Casino Control Commission in Atlantic City. I would have called when I got home the night before, but I figured it was too late to dial them up.
The person who answered told me none of the Commissioners were in, and asked me to call back later. When I called back at 1:00, everybody was out to lunch. At four they were all gone for the day.Share on: