So about six in the evening we walk on down to the El Cortez. Shonnie goes in and I hang back a few; Smoke a Marlboro on the street and head on in. Making my way through the slot machine triple canopy jungle I head to the back, the bar, and the blackjack tables while looking for Shonnie. I spot her seated all alone at a two dollar minimum table decently close to the bar. She was next to ‘Third Base’, empty chair to her left, and five empty seats to her right, just as I had instructed her. “Good Girl,” I thought, “Now, let’s see what you can do.”
As I sat at the bar, lit a cigarette, and ordered a gin and tonic, I watched as Shonnie placed a two-dollar bet. Glancing about the casino, I saw it was a bit slow. A few of the Blackjack tables were completely devoid of players, but it was yet early. This would certainly soon change. I hoped we would be out long before the crowds came. Shonnie had learned the basic count pretty fast, but I did not think she would be able to sustain if there were a table full of other players and thus many more cards to count. If she could pull it off with just her and the dealer, well that was good enough. We had already made a good score with the Craps game the night before and I really wasn’t looking to get rich. I just wanted to (truthfully) impress her with my ‘Gangsta’ ways. Prove a point, as it were.
She was playing a double-deck game (again per my instruction), and I noted that the dealer dealt deep into the decks (a very good thing). Between reshuffles, I could see Shonnie chatting it up just a little with the dealer, a diminutive ‘Ornamental’ Girl: Pretty much becoming the ‘Norm’ in Vegas at that time. Chinese or Korean, best guess.
I was on my second gin and tonic and my fifth Marlboro when some schmuck waltzed over and sat down to Shonnie’s left. Proper Third Base. He looked about fortyish and was wearing a fake cowboy hat, ruffled shirt, à la George Strait, and a stupid face. He began chatting her up. Now, I had not planned on this, but I did realize a good-looker such as Shonnie, sitting all alone at a BJ table, would be bound to draw some flies. I only hoped this asshole did not distract her too much from her count. We had practiced ‘distractions’ in the hotel room. As I played dealer and dealt way too fast, I would ask her questions and play with the remote on the TV. She did just fine. (She is smart, this one.)
Shonnie played through four reshuffles and was winning. I even saw her double-down a few times and in fact she was increasing her bets. ‘What the fuck?!’ I’m thinking. ‘How long does it take a double-deck to go hot?’
‘George’ remained and was beginning to piss me off. Obviously he was distracting her from her count. I ordered up another gin and tonic, lit a cigarette and stewed some. My drink arrived just as I saw Shonnie pull a cig out of her pack, hold it in her left hand and waited for George-The-Sycophant to light it.
I gathered my drink and my pack of Marlboros and sauntered over to the table. Sat down at first base, threw out (drunkenly, for show), a few hundred dollars. The dealer arranged them on the table for ‘The Eye in the Sky’, and said, “Changing six hundred.” She then passed me some big stacks of red and some green chips. I noted that Shonnie had placed two red chips immediately to the right of her stack. If she was spot on, this meant the count had gone to ‘plus ten!’ I had coached her to constantly shuffle her chips, as if she were nervous or bored, so that this act would not draw any attention.
“No Darlin’, gimme a few black,” I said to the dealer, pushing away the red chips. She took them back and pushed out three black chips to go with the twelve green. I placed two bets (two hands—one can play multiple hands if the table is basically empty) of one hundred dollars each. Shonnie dropped a green chip (I had told her nothing fancy dammit!) George dropped a red and seemed more interested in Shonnie than his game and whispered something in her ear.
All bets placed, ‘Ornamental Dealer Girl’ began to deal. (I estimated that only one-third of the two decks had been dealt, so this bode well for me. A plus ten count! Outrageous!) I caught a pair of eights on my first hand and a hard eighteen on my second. Shonnie caught a natural blackjack and sent me a sideways glance. George caught a dead man’s hand: a thirteen. The dealer had her hole card, but with a five showing. Surely she would bust on that weak ass shit. She would have to take a hit, no matter what and with the decks rich in face cards, she just had to bust.
Of course I split my eights. Caught a three on the first eight and doubled down (now two hundred on that hand) Caught a jack! Twenty one! Caught a deuce on the second eight, doubled down again. Caught a king! Twenty on that hand. Another two hundred. I am now five hundred into this round. I stood pat on my other hand, the eighteen. Shonnie had already been paid for her natural blackjack, so it was up to George. He hit his thirteen! (A rookie move: He should have stood on his thirteen against a dealer showing a five up card—idiot) He caught another face and busted. A face card meant for ‘Miss Ornamental’. Again: Idiot! But it all worked out…
The dealer flipped her hole card, revealing a ten, making her a fifteen. She hit the fifteen (as required) and caught a nine and busted.
The deck was still hot (plus to the plus) so I played another hand and won three hundred. Shonnie won another twenty-five. George lost another five. The dealer started to reshuffle. I was done here.
I pushed all my chips out in front and said, “Color me up Darling and keep this one,” as I tossed her a green. I saw Shonnie throw me yet another sideways glance, rolling her eyes.
I gathered my chips and headed over to the cashier. Got my money and split back to the Union Plaza to wait for Shonnie.