Friday, November 21, 2014

What A Game

Elroy watched a program on the Learning Channel on card counting. The guy from MIT who figured out how to beat the casinos at blackjack made it look easy. He was encouraged by the group of college kids making a killing playing blackjack on the weekends.

Elroy bought every book he could find on the subject and practiced card counting for twelve to fourteen hours a day. Before long he could count cards in his sleep. Elroy found himself counting cards without even thinking. He was ready to start his new career.

Las Vegas casinos never knew what hit them. Elroy made money every night as he worked his way down the Strip. When a casino got wise he acted drunk, cashed in his chips and left.

Elroy loved to spend his winnings. He bought fancy clothes, ate expensive meals, and enjoyed costly women. But Elroy was smart. He always kept an ample amount of cash to start the next day playing blackjack in case he lost a few hands he shouldn’t have. Sometimes the cards are fickle.

Variance is a lesson Elroy never heeded. Variance says there will be times you will lose even when the odds are in your favor. Sometimes variance rears her ugly head for a long stretch of time. Tonight is that time for Elroy. The cards kept putting the odds in his favor, so he bet big, and lost. Again and again.

The casino was more than happy to extend credit to Elroy. Elroy signed the marker and kept playing. And losing. So he signed another marker. Then another. Elroy made a rookie mistake. He kept thinking the cards would eventually revert to the mean. It never happened. And Elroy kept playing, borrowing more from the casino, and losing to the crooked dealer the casino put at his table. You see, Elroy was the mark.

In the wee hours of the morning the casino cut Elroy’s credit off and demanded payment. Elroy was broke. The casino demanded payment via cash or services. Elroy had no choice. Now Elroy works for the casino as Laura. He pays off $300 of his debt to the casino for every customer he services. It will take years for Elroy to retire his debt, but he accepts his new life and is really happy with the way life turned out.

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