Playing High Poker [1971]


Any woman to win 1,000 to 1

Not everyone in college was doing acid, and most of our frat brothers had no idea.  Our fraternity was throwing a party, but me, Rocky and Zeek didn’t have dates so instead we set up the poker table in the basement, put a bottle of wine in a silver ice chiller (as camouflage for why we might seem high), dropped, and started playing poker waiting to come-on.

A little while later, Alex (who also had no date) asked to join us.  Alex was one of the straight guys and a decent card player.  After a few high-low hands (two winners), it became harder and harder to read the cards – in fact they looked purplish rather than red and black – and we really didn’t know if we were winning or losing, so we let Alex announce results and divide up the pots.  After a while he was all out of money.  In a shortsighted, LSD-induced, sharing mind set (as if we were all-in altogether with only one loser), we could do no better counting than to divide all the money equally three ways.  This, of course, didn’t sit well with Alex, who forever after thought we cheated him, although this was not part of our mind set at all.  We were just passing time observing things happening, in no control whatsoever, but he never understood.

It became harder & harder for the cards to (even) read themselves

It became harder & harder for the cards to (even) read themselves

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It was quite the opposite playing poker for the first time in Las Vegas.  I didn’t really plan to be in Las Vegas – was just passing through on the way to Los Angeles.  Thinking I’d just play for an hour to get the free drinks, and then head out for LA, I sat down one afternoon at the MGM Grand.  The day unfolded much differently.

First the lady next to me holds her cards out so I can see them, then this obvious tourist guy walks up in a Hawaii’n print shirt, hands the camera draped over his neck to his wife, and says “I’m just going to play ‘til I lose this hundred dollars.”  Then this lady shows up and tells the dealer she’s never played before, but sits down when the dealer says, “That’s OK – I’ll explain as we go.”  Seeing the possibilities I switched from booze to coffee and went on quite a winning streak.

After an hour or two, to relax I got my shoes shined.  A couple hours later I got them shined again – giving an even bigger tip for good luck.  Eventually I needed a longer break so I gave up my seat and took my winnings to the Roulette Wheel – just to watch.   After awhile I devised a system:  If the ball missed either the first twelve, second twelve, or third twelve, seven times in a row – then I placed a bet in that twelve, doubling my bet every time until I hit – figuring it was long overdue to land in the twelve I was betting.   At one point I had almost half my poker winnings riding on one of the twelve’s when it hit (and paid 3 to 1).

Back at the card table it was now evening and the players were all new – serious card players this time.   So I got a room to wait out the night until the next afternoon.  Turns out the rooms are really cheap in Las Vegas because the casinos figure they’ll get your money from gambling.  Almost didn’t have to pay for a room at all, but the shill who brought me to her apartment was just too wild and crazy, even for me (another story).

The next morning I visited a Sports Book.  The oddsmakers had any woman to win the Boston Marathon at 1,000 to 1.  Demonstrating (I thought) faith in the fairer sex I bought five $1 tickets and made them into postcards to five favorite lady friends for a chance to win $1,000.  One of them later told me she took offense at the long odds and my goodwill gesture was not appreciated.  That afternoon my luck at cards was gone, and so I was too.




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