The Theory and Practice of Blackjack

On our last night in Sault Ste. Marie I just knew my gambling luck was going to change.  There is no way to reconcile this belief with an intellectual acceptance of the Monte Carlo Fallacy.  Nonetheless, I am fully capable of holding mutually exclusive ideas as equal truths.  We did visit the casino.  I played blackjack for a couple of hours, never getting far ahead, never falling far behind.  And then came a string of good hands for me and misfortune for the dealer.  I drew a pair of aces, split ‘em, and hit a blackjack and a 20.  With the losses of the previous days recouped, it was time to cash in those chips and leave smiling.  While I wasn’t unlucky, the win was more a case of nothing going on for the dealer.  He didn’t hit a blackjack all night, and drew no fives while holding 16.  The surest way to win is to watch the dealer lose.


A night later in St. Ignace I played breakeven 21 for half an hour or so.  A lady carrying a can of coins, somebody’s great-grandmother I suppose, stopped and asked the dealer how the game worked.  A friend of a similar age at my table offered to coach her.  Granny traded her coins for chips and sat down with maybe $5.  She drew a 16 … “What do I do now?”  “Dealer’s showing a ten; you better draw.”  “But I’ll bust!”  “You’ll lose if you don’t draw.”  “Okay, give me a five”, and out comes a five.  “Did I win?”  “Yes.”  She won $3.  She pushed 17 on the next hand, then drew two kings and won, hit a blackjack, stood on 15 against the friend’s loud advice and won, and suddenly had $20.  “This is fun!  Isn’t this fun, Sue?”  Her friend was not doing nearly so well, and no, Sue was not having fun.  Sue mumbled “I think you can play your own hands now.”  “Yeah, I can do this!”  Granny drew a 9 and a 6, and said “Gimme another 6”.   Here come a 6.  “Whoo!”  Then she drew two face cards with the dealer showing 10; he turned over an ace for blackjack.  Granny hollered out,   “Oh, shit!”


It went on like that for quite a while.  Granny kept us loose while winning some and losing some, with “Bless your heart” or “That’s my boy!” to the dealer for fine cards alternating with “Dammit to hell!” or everybody’s favorite “Hope my daughter don’t find out I’m here.”


The casino should pay her to play.  She’s ready for the $5 table.

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