Thursday, February 26, 2015

The $7,000 mistake

I'm too tired to write anything that requires critical thinking, so here's a simple tale from a night of gambling many years ago:

I don't remember much about this specific trip, but I remember I was at the Tropicana, playing roulette. I'm not a high stakes gambler, and I probably hadn't played much roulette in my life, but I knew the basics, I knew the payouts, I kept it simple. 

There were several of us gathered around a table, minding our own business. A guy, dressed up rather nicely, comes to the table with a lovely young woman in tow. She's dressed quite nicely, too. They didn't look like newlyweds, but they were overdressed for the low stakes game the rest of us were playing at the Tropicana. I think he was wearing a tux on this occasion.

He had $200 in cash – two $100 bills – and he placed them on the 3. He told the croupier that he wanted to bet the cash on the number, but the phrasing of his comment confused her. The woman was probably born in another country, but she didn't have trouble communicating or doing her job. She did just fine. It was something about the way he phrased his play that confused her. 

I was certain he was trying to say he wanted to make a cash wager on the number, and the way he placed his money on the felt convinced me of it. Even though he wanted to make a straight bet on the 3, he used a term (I don't remember what) that suggested he wanted to make some other type of bet. The croupier's confusion between his requested bet and his cash play resulted in her pulling the ball from the wheel. It had been spinning above the wheel when he walked up to our table, and with the croupier unable to understand his intended bet, she stopped the ball before it had a chance to drop down onto the wheel. 

The man, incensed by her action, grabbed his $200 from the table, tugged his lovely young companion by the hand and off they went. He verbally expressed his frustration as he did this. Nothing profane, he was simply irritated and made it known. All the while his female companion seemed a bit aloof and oblivious to the episode. 

All of us at the table looked at each other, equally dumbfounded by what just took place. We soon went back to our business and play resumed, the brash young roulette player nowhere to be seen.

Sure enough, the very next spin is 3 red. I don't think any of us made a special effort to bet the 3 after the guy stormed off with his $200, but we quickly realized that his premonition had come true and proceeded to look at each other, dumbfounded again.

I'm not sure how many people drop $200 on a straight roulette bet at the Tropicana, and perhaps the $7,000 payday would have been a drop in his proverbial bucket. 

This story probably dates back 15 years or more. I'm not sure about the rest of the players at my table, but clearly I never forgot this guy, his lovely young companion and the $7,000 windfall he walked away from. 

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