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Best of Madeliene Bizub

Gaming Guru

 

The Many, The Proud, The Bonehead Gambler

23 April 2000

Whenever I was hurt, or angry or just plain whining about something when I was growing up, my mom had a handy maxim for every occasion. If I complained about having to get up so early for school, my mom's comeback could be counted on, "The early bird gets the worm." One of her favorites was "Pride goeth before a fall", and after my experience gambling this weekend, I could almost hear her voice again, warning me that I was about to take a big fall and my ego would get a bruising.

I was playing Spanish 21, and though it doesn't offer the player the opportunity to actually have an edge like regular blackjack, with proper play it is a low house edge game. I've enjoyed playing this game because of the opportunity for a "bonus", and there is virtually no scrutiny by the casino staff because they know it's difficult, if not impossible for the player to gain an advantage as in card counting. As always, with any casino game, I've studied and practiced the game, and played low limit until I felt comfortable with my skill. And in spite of the roughly 0.85% house edge, I'm a sporadic, but overall winner. Many of my more serious gambling acquaintances think I'm foolish to play it, when with a little study I could do better at "real blackjack". I enjoy it though, and after all, I also play games such as craps, and even a little slots with much higher house advantage. I don't use house advantage as my only criterion in gaming choices, though it's a serious consideration, and not to be taken too lightly.

As Spanish 21 has become more popular, though, and more people are playing it, I've run into a little trouble from "expert" players who play the game with the same basic strategy as regular blackjack. Playing blackjack basic strategy in Spanish 21 gives the house upwards of a 5 percent advantage, and that, indeed, is a serious advantage. Spanish 21 calls for some hitting of hands that you would never hit in regular blackjack, and thus begins my tale of woe.

I found out recently that I was a bonehead at Spanish 21--not just a plain bonehead, but a %#@!!** bonehead. An "excellent" player to my left at the table told me so. I know he was an excellent player because he had five red chips in front of him, and blamed everyone at the table for his losses, because we weren't playing our hands right, most especially, me! He even offered me my bet back not to hit certain hands, he was so incensed.

I said something to the effect of "needing to play Spanish 21 more aggressively" than regular blackjack. He informed me--and everyone within two blocks--that he knew EXACTLY how to play this game. I'm ashamed to admit that I was sure wishing my 6 foot tall husband was around so we could get into some adult version of "my daddy can whip your daddy," but I was on my own this day. As it turned out, though, this guy did me a big favor, but I doubt it's the one he was trying to do.

After I had all the fun I could stand at that table, I left ($50 ahead), and went home to complain to my husband and friends about the obnoxious gamblers out there telling me how to play. Even the dealer, though more subtle than the players, was implying that I didn't know what I was doing.

This incident was not the first time I've been harassed a bit for my play. I also enjoy the criticism I get at the dice tables about my method of dice rolling, not to mention some of the helpful advice I get in the poker room.

So, in a word, I was whining.

After all, I am the expert player here, and these idiots should just do what I do, and they could be as good as me. Now, of course, I didn't say those exact words, but I was saying something which meant the same thing. Oh no! That player was right, I was being a bonehead. I was getting my pride and ego involved in my gambling--more dangerous than a big house edge any day.

After some truly good advice from fellow gamblers and some soul searching, I realized that my pride was about to take me down again--my momma would be so impressed. Next time I enter a casino, I'm going to remember what I'm there to do. A casino is a business designed to part me from my money, and get me to enjoy it! I think it's a lot of fun, and challenging, to try to take more of theirs than they take of mine. There are decent games in a casino, some with a low house edge, and with knowledgeable play, reasonable goals and expectations, you can take a little of their money home. That's a pretty good deal. I don't know any other business which offers you that opportunity. So what if the casino or the other players think I'm a bonehead? As a matter of fact, it's very likely better that they do perceive me as a nice lady, but isn't it too bad that I don't know how to play? That way I get invitations back to the casino's party.

Even in games of chance, knowledge is a powerful tool for the player, but unlike other endeavors where you can proclaim your accomplishment, it's beneficial to appear to be just another bonehead gambler. If you become truly skillful and flaunt it, then you may well not have a place to ply your skills. Just ask accomplished card counters who can't play in casinos because their "action" is not wanted, or poker players who have a hard time finding a game because they win with apparent ease. Just suppose that a casino does happen to take notice that you win regularly and see if you get another comped room. After a while, the comps and maybe even your "privileges" would be a thing of the past.

I wanted to go back and thank that proud fellow who felt free to criticize me and helped me in my never ending quest to be a better gambler. I went back to that same casino--looking for him. He was a regular and I thought he might be around, so I asked one of the dealers if she had seen him. It turns out he was having surgery--something about a chip being removed from his shoulder. Hopefully he'll be back soon, I need fellows like him to keep me on track. If he doesn't come around again, though, there's plenty more like him. In the meantime, I'm just going to keep trying not to be one of them.

Madeliene Bizub
Madeliene Bizub is a craps aficionado and an experienced gambler who is making
quite a name for herself in craps circles. She contributes to many internet
gaming sites and her opinions are well respected.
Madeliene Bizub
Madeliene Bizub is a craps aficionado and an experienced gambler who is making
quite a name for herself in craps circles. She contributes to many internet
gaming sites and her opinions are well respected.