Friday, September 9, 2005

So This Is Where All Those Hundred-Dollar Bills Went

I went down to Atlantic City today to make some money the lazy way, with skanky waitresses comping me drinks. Last time I went down to AC, I fell in love with the place for three reasons:

  1. I'm a nerd, and I could put that B- I got in discrete math to work down there, mulling over probability shit like standard deviations and Bayes' Theorem.
  2. Atlantic City, or at least the cheap and tawdry Sands casino where I hang out, is overrun with the elderly and terminally unemployable, and that boosts my self-esteem immensely. (Just how tawdry is the Sands? October at the Sands is "Tony Danza October"! Friday, October 7, 10pm. Saturday, October 8, 9pm. The talented singer, dancer, actor and comedian brings his unmistakable charm to the famous Copa Room.)
  3. At least three-quarters of the people in the casino are there by themselves, and therefore desperately friendly.
So maybe it was just me, but it seemed like today everybody was mad tempermental. Like, we were playing seven-card stud when a geriatric-fight nearly broke out after everyone showed their cards and one old dude called out someone else's hand and this third old guy just snapped. Later on, there was this guy at the table who was either (a) a moron or (b) someone only too eager to give his money away. But he was confused about making his bet and lacked the English to properly express his confusion, so half the table started heckling and intimidating him till he left. And then the other half of the table, realizing our resident sucker just got scared away, started yelling at the first half. It's fun cause all of these people are in their late hundreds, and I would've given anything to see one of them beat another one with his walker.

And at blackjack, a fat man and an old man got into an argument about who knew more strategy:
Fat Guy: I've dealt blackjack for fifteen years, so if you think you know what you're talking about, I think I know more.

Old Guy: I've been playing blackjack for fifty years now. In the forty years that I've been playing blackjack, I've never hit a twelve against a two, and I've been playing for about forty-five years.
I too felt an urge to strangle a couple of my tablemates to stop their damn bitching about someone stealing someone else's face card. Frankly, I'm of the opinion that if you've never taken a goddamn math class and you don't have a solid grasp of what a random distribution is, you shouldn't be allowed near hundred-dollar bills. I accidentally hit thirteen when the dealer was showing three, and Fat Guy lectured me on how I messed up the deck for everybody else. Listen up, Tubby, the deck is shuffled. The cards are in a random order. The following card is just as likely to be good for you as it is to be bad. I can't believe this jackass has the bankroll to bet forty bucks a hand, and with all the math I've got on my side, I can only afford to bet five.

My big casino discovery was this game called Pai Gow Poker, which I can only recommend if you have lots and lots of aspirin handy. Even describing the game hurts my head. You're dealt a packet of seven cards from the Shuffler-o-Matic, and you use five of the cards to make a "high" poker hand and the remaining two for a "low" hand. You win if your high hand beats the banker's high hand and your low hand beats the banker's low hand. Here's the thing: because it's an "Asian" game, the dealer's always this screeching Chinese sweatshop manager woman who totally loses her shit if someone makes the smallest procedural mistake. She can't just take your money — she's gotta make a big scene, and then the other people at the table take a cue from her and they go absolutely apeshit.

I found this out by fucking up (or "fouling," as the sweatshop lady screamed it) my very first pai gow poker hand, putting a pair of fours in the low hand but only a queen high for the high hand. Sweatshop Lady flipped over my high and low hands and — remember that Blue Screen of Death when one of those old versions of Windows crashed? That was what came over her face. Does not compute. Fatal exception in 0x0063A28F. She called over her co-Sweatshop Manager, and I swear I could see the gears and springs in her head just exploding as she tried figuring out my hands. "Why you put pair fours in low hand?"

"Cause I'm new," feeling like this shit is about to go from valuable learning experience to total humiliation.

"Next time, ask dealer. I not lie. I help you. If you don't know, ask. Next time. You foul. You ask dealer. Otherwise, you lose money. I show you." For like ten minutes. Or thirty seconds, but it felt like a really long time. And I have to admit that the Sweatshop Lady was helpful and I eventually got the hang of it, but damn. No tip for her. Too embarrassed.