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Did You Get the Number of That Truck?

7 December 1999

I've been planning this trip for the last month. I'll be headed for Tunica, sans wife and all the marital distractions that ensue. I'm going to play. Yeah. Serious stuff. I know the venue and I know the games. I'm behind on my playing hours this year, and I need the time at the tables to hit my annual goal. This is a mid-week trip and I'm looking forward to getting nice single-deck games all to myself. This is it. I've got the hammer and the casinos are the nails.

I take the solitary drive and I'm already missing Bootie. By the time I hit Louisville, I'm wondering if there was a way I could have talked her out of going to work and taking some personal leave time. Oh well, I've made that bed. Besides, I'm going to get in some serious time at the tables. I stop a little over halfway and spend the night in a cheap motel by the freeway. The next morning, I cruise on into Memphis and hit U.S. Route 61, the Blues Highway. This time, it will be the casinos that will be singing the blues. Heh heh heh.

I get into Tunica County early, so I decide to hit a couple of casinos before I go to the hotel and check in. I head for the Hollywood and find a quarter table with only one other player. An hour and twenty minutes later, I'm out $500. "No problem," I think to myself, "I'll get 'em later."

I take a short walk over to Harrah's, but the tables there are just too crowded. Back in the car, and a short drive to Fitzgerald's later, I'm scouting out the tables there. The single-deckers are crowded, but there is an empty double-decker. I sit down and see the dealer is giving good penetration, so I put some money on the table. A few minutes later, I've won $62 and I see that they are opening up a quarter single-deck table. Not wanting to pass up the chance for a heads-up game, I move over to the newly opened table and start playing. The dealer is placing the cut card about two-thirds of the way in and I begin to spend my winnings in my mind. Time passes and I'm short another $876. Maybe it's time to go check into my room. A little break is just what I need.

I check into the Gold Strike. They have these elevators there that make you use your room key before they work. I can't get mine to work and the elevator just stands there. Suddenly, it takes off and goes all the way up to the top floor, obviously summoned by someone wanting to come down. After several up and down trips like this, I finally get the little green light to come on and make it to my room. I give Bootie a call, and I tell her how much I'm down already.

"Don't worry about it, " she says. "I've seen you come back from worse. Now get out there and win me some money, honey!"

I take a short nap, and bolstered by Bootie's words of encouragement, I hit the casino floor. Sure enough, her words ring like a prophecy. In an hour, I'm up $490 and I'm sure I'm on my way to another winning trip. After checking out the Horseshoe and the Sheraton, both of which are too crowded for me, I swing back over to Harrah's. Sure enough, I find a single-deck table with only two other players. After playing an up and down game for about an hour, I get a series of decks with nice high counts. It doesn't help, though. Suddenly, I'm down another $545. Facing a $1369 loss for the day, I figure it's time to give it a rest. After a nice meal at the Gold Strike, I head for bed, sure to find better fortune in the morning.

The next morning, I hit the tables again. A modest $270 win makes me sure that I'm finally headed in the right direction. I grab a quick breakfast in the Gold Strike's buffet and head next door to the Horseshoe. Once again, I'm able to find just the game I want, an uncrowded single decker and I promptly drop another $500. "Not again," I wonder.

I walk on over to the Sheraton and pick up a quick $305 win. Then I hit the Horseshoe for $415 and make a quick grab at the Gold Strike for $750. "All right, I'm coming out of it now," I muse as I walk back over to the 'Shoe. Finding an empty single decker I begin to go to work. I'm working, but the cards are not, at least not for me. I take a $2000 spanking. Now I'm beginning to doubt myself and my playing ability and I am softly swearing at Edward Thorp, Arnold Snyder, Stanford Wong, Kenny Uston and above all, Olaf Vancurra and Kenny Fuchs, who devised the KO system I'm using. I feel guilty about cursing a dead man, but if I could only get those other guys into one room together, I'd sure give them what for.

One last swing at the Gold Strike before bed doesn't help my surly demeanor one little bit, as I transfer another $374 from my wallet to their drop box. Fortunately, the elevator works perfectly. Otherwise, I might have been sitting in the Tunica County Jail for destruction of property, because something tells me my frustration may have found a physical manifestation if that damned elevator hadn't done its job. Back in the room, I tally up my losses and groan as I see I'm down $2503 for the trip.

In the morning, lightning strikes and I pick up a fast $1059 at a hot single-deck game. Then I move on to a $310 win and fight hard for an hour to gain another $30. I go back over to the Hollywood and win a modest $160. Now I'm only $944 down. "I can do this," I think. "I can beat this game yet and come home with money in my pocket." I feel my confidence returning as I sit down for one more session. Looking back with perfect 20-20 hindsight, I wish I hadn't, but I did.

I sit at that table for hours, grinding it out, up and down, down and up. Dealers come and dealers go, but I'm still grinding. First it's $500 out of my pocket, then I'm up $300. That goes, and I'm into my pocket for another $500. More grinding, more up and down and I find I've bought in for $2500. Suddenly, I get hot and I see $1600 on the table in front of me, after being down to my last quarter chip. Then it happens. Ten minutes later, that $1600 is gone and I've pulled another $500 out of my billfold. Within half an hour, that's gone too and I finally get up from the table, wearily conceding defeat. I stop by the front desk and ask for a late checkout because it is now the wee hours of the morning and I need some sleep before hitting the road for what promises to be a very gloomy trip home.

A few hours later, I'm awake. I pack up my luggage and check out of the hotel. I decide to give the game one last shot before I depart, so I buy in for another $500. Mercifully, the cards fall my way, and I win a quick $610. It's late, and I have to get going, so I bid Tunica and 3334 of my hard-earned dollars farewell.

That's the way it is for a counter. But hey, if this was easy, anybody could do it and the casinos would go out of business. By the time I hit Memphis, I'm already planning out my next assault. Next time, it's Las Vegas, and they are going down!

Bootlegger is a frequent contributor to various gaming web pages on the
worldwide web. His intelligent, insightful opinions and analyses have gained him quite a reputation in cyberspace as an expert who knows the games and understands the gambler.
Bootlegger is a frequent contributor to various gaming web pages on the
worldwide web. His intelligent, insightful opinions and analyses have gained him quite a reputation in cyberspace as an expert who knows the games and understands the gambler.