Wheel of fortune. Shot wide open using 50mm/f1...

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Roulette Las Vegas Style

When I first moved to Las Vegas, I preferred playing Roulette at the Hilton.

Because I am so short, I take the second seat from the wheel whenever I can get it.  Chair number two affords me access to all the numbers without tipping my bottom to the world.  What I saw one night will stay with me until the day I die.

I was sipping on my Smith and Curran, betting the minimums, not doing poorly, and not doing well.   In the distance, a short, muscular square jawed man began to approach the wheel.  He was middle aged and really shouldn’t have been wearing his shirt quite so tight, nor with so many buttons undone.  Grayish chest hairs curled around a thick gold chain and a pendant of the number “32”.  He said his name was Craig and that he loved number 32.

He sat squarely on the chair at the foot of the board and I remember thinking that he’d have trouble placing bets up at the top end where I was.  He cashed in for $100 chips, two stacks of them. , and then he reached into his pants pocket and drew out a piece of green cloth which he placed squarely in front of him.  It was a section of old Roulette board felt of the number “32”.  He placed several $100 chips straight up on number 32…no other bets.  “Idiot”, I thought.  The ball began to spin around, around, around.  At last it began its decent toward the number wells….ping, ping, ping, plop….32, no way!  I watched the dealer counting up the considerable winnings, and then slide them over to Craig.  Craig threw back some of the black chips to the dealer, took back his original bet, and then stacked all the rest on 32.  In essence, Craig was letting it ride…insane.

Once again…around, around, ping, ping, plop, 32.  Bullshit!!! But once again, Craig was paid a fortune.  He tried to let it all ride again, but the pit boss was summoned.  The betting limit was explained to Craig, so he adjusted his wager…yeah, number 32…only number 32…and yes, it hit again.  By this point, I was in such a state of shock and disbelief that I was unable to calculate the odds against the number 32 coming up three times straight, much less the amount of money sitting in front of Craig.  They had stopped paying him in chips by that point (he had them all) and were giving him notes instead.

He bet the table limit on 32 once again, for the fourth time.  My entire being was trembling…what if 32 hits again?  It’s so damned unlikely.  But so were rolls one, two and three.  I had reached a critical point.  I was beginning to believe.   When 32 hit for the fourth time, Craig threw a pile of his blacks to the dealer and abruptly stood up to cash out.  He strode away, reeking with triumph.  I am sure that he marched straight to the cashier’s cage.  This experience taught me a big lesson about blind belief in odds.  And I swear that lesson has served me well ever since.  Nearly two years  later, I was destined to have my own Craig moment.