January 10th, 2006
Categories: Uncategorized

Oceans Three


“Blackjack is beatable – so we beat it. We beat the hell out of it.”

One of my favourite books is Bringing Down The House. In it, it details the true story of six M.I.T. students who come up with a system of playing blackjack so that – whilst not completly flawless – they end up tens of thousands of pounds richer. Towards the end of the book, the story turns sinister, whereby Kevin (one of the students in the group, who is the central protaganist of the story) gets blacklisted by the IRS, barred from every casino in the world, and becomes a nervous wreck. It’s a gripping tale and, although impossible to carry out now, it does explain how they did it.

Last night, three of us went out for a bit of a “post relationship/exam” gamble (hell, I’ve got a two week period post a breakup where I’m allowed to do things like that, so I thought I’d better use it). We bet as a team, each putting £30 into a communal pot. We sat down as a three, and – whatever happens – we have a laugh. Lines such as “Hit me baby one more time”, “I could so use a BJ right now” and the annoyingly common “12?!?! What use is that??” bring smiles to the table.

We had a horrible run of luck to begin with, usually hitting 12′s and 14′s, with the dealer seemingly always drawing aces, it got so bad that our pot dropped to zero, so we each invested in another £5. Now we were being more successful, with us clamouring back to £40 for the pot.

We took stock, we were still down, but not by much. An executive decision was made, and we carried on gambling. We had a new rule though, in that we only bet a maximum of £20. As we were betting £6 per hand (3 hands of £2), if we won more than £15, we kept £10.

We had the most amazing run of luck, sometimes we took cards ‘for the team’ (i.e. sacrificing one hand so that the other two can win – stupid idea but it occasionally worked). We had favourable splits, doubles and the dealer was always hitting 5′s and 6′s. After another half an hour the pot was up to £80.

This is where it got scary.

For some reason, the end of “Bringing Down The House” kept flashing through my mind, the beatings in darkened rooms, the losing all your money etc. I actually became quite scared – not because we were winning life-changing amounts, more because we looked like (and were) working as a team. The croupier looked so angry at us, so, I decided to quit whilst I was ahead. There was no complaints from my team-mates. Our luck was going to run out soon, either that, or we were going to get battered.

Overall, I got back £25 (the other two got £10 more, as they had staked more), with £5 left to take to roulette.

Fiver on red.

We lost.

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