fter loading on Friday afternoon, I estimated we would arrive at about 6am local time on Sunday morning. Phone calls were made and plans arranged for a crew of folks to meet us at the appointed time to unload. Driving through the pitch night of the Nevada desert 4 hours ahead of schedule, I came around a curve of I-15 and was greeted by the lights of Las Vegas spread-out below me on the valley floor.
It was time for some blackjack, my friends.
I have gambled in Nevada before; once in Reno and another time in Lake Tahoe, but I had never gambled in Vegas. The truckstop where I planned to take this small break was unlike the other truckstops in Nevada, which offered video gaming and slots. This truckstop offered table games: blackjack and three card poker. Across the street was a casino as well, The Silverton. I played for a while at the truckstop casino first and did really well. I took the $100 I started with and put myself up $250 pretty quickly. The problem with playing here is, how should I say... the level of the gamer? When you're playing a mutli-deck shoe, trying to "guess" the dealer's down card or what the probability of the next card out of the dek will be is futile. You simply play the odds, taking and not taking your hits when you should. I can forgive an occasional "gut feeling" or "hunch", but when you spend every hand trying to guess what the draw is going to be, you obviously don't understand the game.
I bring this up because I saw someone do something that I had never seen happen before in my time playing blackjack. One guy at the table had a hard seventeen, against the dealer showing a six. A SIX. If you've never played blackjack, this is like, the ultimate bust card for the dealer to have. There is greater than a 50% chance that the total of the dealer's two cards equals greater than 12 but less than 17, meaning that the dealer has to take a hit that could bust them. The guy with the hard seventeen took a hit. There is never, under any circumstances that you should ever hit a hard seventeen, much less when the dealer is showing a bust card.
I lost some of the money I was up, needless to say, due to this gentleman and a number of others at the table who simply didn't know the game. In actuality, most of the money I had accumulated was when I played the dealer alone while the other's sat out for a while trying to figure out why they kept losing money. After watching me win a couple hundred dollars they came back in and I lost about half of it. When they closed the table I walked away $100 up, and proceeded across the street to the Silverton.
pon walking in the doors of The Silverton Casino, I realized that I should have gone there from the beginning, I had just been too lazy to make the walk. They had a really interesting variant of blackjack. Most of the standard rules and payouts applied with some unique differences. For one, blackjack itself only payed 2-to-1 instead of the typical 3-to-2 payout you get in most games. However, blackjack was an automatic win and a dealer's blackjack could not negate it. Also, a blackjack comprised solely of the suit of diamonds payed 3-to-1. You could also "double down" at any time. For instance, if your first two cards were a 3 and a 2, then you took a hit and drew a 6 giving you eleven, you could then double down if you liked. Also, at any time after taking at least one hit, you could surrender your hand for half of your bet. This was particularly useful when doubling down on, say, an 11 and then drawing a deuce. If you didn't like your chances based on what the dealer was showing, you could surrender your hand and keep half of your total bet. I had seen the "surrender" variant in some reservation casinos, but never in a commercial casino. They also payed for 5-card and 6-card "charlies". As if all of this wasn't enough, it was a single-deck game! I was having a lot of fun learning to adjust my game from a very helpful dealer and the other players. After some ups and downs at the onset, I hit a streak and I was rolling. I quickly added another $200-$300 dollars to my earnings from the truckstop table across the street. It cooled off for a while and I was hanging in there. I only had about 20 minutes until I had to leave.
I should have. Over the course of 5 hands I lost virtually everything I had won. I was only $25 up. I conceded and cashed in my chips. But I just couldn't let it be. I decided since I had begun the evening completely comfortable with the idea of losing $100, I might as well go out with a bang. I walked over to one of the $25 seats with my 5 green chips and played 3 hands: one at 25, two at 50. Didn't win a single one.
But I had a blast. I love the game, I just wish I had the time and money to do it more frequently. I could play more sensibly I suppose, but what fun is there in that?
nd if nothing else, I got to add two more chips to the growing collection.....