We freshened up, got dressed, and prepared to head down to the Casino Floor. Generally, and as a semi-hardened and made-fast rule, I do not gamble at The Plaza.
But on this night I was feeling freshly full of myself (No small thanks to Shonnie) and wanted to capitalize on that feeling before the ‘fresh’ had time to wear off.
Please allow me to clarify something:
I do not believe in Santa, The Easter Bunny, Cracks-in-Sidewalks, Broken Mirrors, Feet Belonging to Dead Rabbits, Karma, Fate, Oklahoma, or God.
But I do believe in Dama Fortuna, AKA ‘Lady Luck’.
In fact, before we left our Blue Hotel Room Love Nest, and while Shonnie was taking her second shower of the day, I offered up my Burnt Offering to La Dama Fortuna:
I carefully picked up a small bowl left behind by Room Service and ceremoniously set it down on the night stand. Then I retrieved a crisp five-dollar bill from my wallet. (I ain’t cheap ya know).
While holding ‘Honest Abe’ over the bowl, I splashed a little Jim Beam onto him.
Then carefully placing Mister President Lincoln into said bowl, I took my Zippo and set him and the fiver ablaze as my lil boomer box belted out this song, hoping Lady Dama would enjoy the music and smile down upon me and bless me with favorable favors:
Y’all may be thinking that I’m making this shit up.
Allow me to assure you.
I ain’t. I’m just really weird is all.
Gamblers, real true-blue-dyed-in-the-wool Gamblers, are a funny lot, funny as in half-crazy-funny at a bare minimum.
Your humble author is certainly no exception and registers a solid ‘three-quarter nuts‘ on the ‘Crazy O’Meter‘.
Shonnie emerged from her shower just as Frank was finishing up his song and Mister Lincoln had finished curling up and turning into semi-green ash.
“What the hell you been listening to? Some old-timey shit? And why are there ashes in that little bowl you’re all hunched over? And why does it smell funny in here?”
“Good God Woman! Must I explain everything to you? We’re In-Las-Fucking-Vegas! Normal behavior don’t work here. Trust me.”
She produced something resembling a petite pout, half-real at best, but I sensed I had slightly wounded her. Naw, probably just winged her a little.
I abandoned my tiny Dama Fortuna Altar and rushed over to Shonnie, embracing her little body and kissing her deep and tender.
“I’m so, so sorry Baby, (I genuinely was sorry for my un-called-for outburst) sometimes I get a case of the ‘pre-game’ jitters. Forgive me?”
She saw she had me at a remorseful disadvantage now and quickly capitalized,
“Okaaay, but you better be nice to me Cowboy,” she said softly while lowering her head and trying to look all ‘hang-dog’. Then she quickly looked up piercing me eyeball-to-eyeball and added not-so-softly, “Because you won’t like me when I’m angry.”
“Smart Ass! C’mere!” We kissed again. Then we laughed in unison.
All Good Now.
The very LAST thing a gambler wants to take to the ‘Gamble’ is ‘Bad Juju’.
An Ill or even slightly awkward feeling between a gambler and his woman is the absolute worst Juju of all, even worse than betting with scared money, which is damn near as bad.
If you’re carrying either of these situations to The Arena you may as well save yourself the bother, mail them a check, and call it a night.
You want Good Juju and Fearless Money is what I’m sayin’.
Good Juju Being Administered by Dama Fortuna
As we entered the Plaza Casino proper, it was all flashing lights, laughter, musical sounds from the slot-machines—basically your typical Las Vegas Scene.
I led Shonnie over to a bank of ‘dollar slots’. I pulled out a crisp one-dollar bill and fed it to the hungry machine.
“Pull the lever and stand by,” I said to her.
“I’ve never gambled before,” she protested. “You do it.”
“Honey, if my instincts are right, this ain’t gambling. Go ahead. It’s my dollar anyhow, so you really ain’t gambling, Per se.”
Joni’s Tribute to all the Slot Machine Junkies of the World
“The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines”
Vid Share Cred: Renato Spallucci
“Pear who? Okay,” she said, “Here goes nothin’!” while pulling the Bandit’s one arm, using both her arms to do so.
“I certainly hope not,” I said.
I’d never seen anything like that shit before: Both Arms to pull a one-armed bandits’ arm?!
I love this woman!
We watched the cylinders spin.
Bells sounded and lights flashed from the machine.
Double bar. Double Bar. Double Bar!
Casino silver dollars rained down into the tray, making that magic music of metal clanging on metal.
One hundred bucks! A propitious beginning!
(And damn good Juju!)
“Oh My Fucking God!” she screamed.
“Baby, God had nothing to do with it. Thank Dama Fortuna, if you feel compelled to thank someone.”
“Drama…who?? Shit! Wow! Look at all that shiny money!”
“It’s all yours. Take that plastic bucket and fill it up.”
“Should we go again?” She asked breathlessly.
“Absolutely not,” I said. “Come on. I’m gonna show you the ‘real’ games.”
“You’re the Boss,” she giggled.
I leaned very close to her, pulled my collar to her lips as I breathed into her ear,
“Speak into the microphone, My Dear.”
“Lance, you’re crazy!”
“Yeah. I am. C’mon.”
I led her to a craps table.
“Oh! This looks complicated,” she said.
“Well, yeah. It is and it isn’t. Don’t worry. I will walk you through it. One question though, do you throw a baseball like a girl?”
“Ok then. We should be fine.”
Craps is the best game ever invented by Man.
I love the high-energy!
The Craps Crowds
I love the suspense as the galloping dominoes bounce down the table.
And last but certainly not least, I love the possibility of winning (and sometimes even losing) very large amounts of money in a very short amount of time.
“It’s all-in-the-game Yo!”
And yes, I am what some might call, a
Started when I was hustling crap games at Honey Grove Junior High in the school hallways between classes.
Only got busted once.
Rather Proud of my Record.
Shonnie and I shouldered our way in at one of the far ends of the table. We sandwiched ourselves between a middle-aged, gray-haired man (on our left) in a business suit (I immediately pegged him as a ‘Corporation Man’ on Convention) grasping what looked like a scotch and water and there was a cigar in a tiny ashtray set on the rail in front of him. It was obviously neglected, as there was an inch and a half of ash hanging from it.
On the right side of us, a ‘normal’ looking guy, about thirty-something, sporting a too loud red t-shirt and a gimme cap. Baseball. I forget the team.
Normal Guy had control of the dice, so that meant once his roll ended it would be Shonnie’s turn to ‘step up to the plate’.
The table was just about at ‘capacity’. I glanced around, looking at the contestants. You see, in Craps the idea is to find the table with the highest energy level. You want the most up-beat, loudest, rowdiest players at your chosen table:
Players who were having FUN–Again, Good Juju.
Sad to say, but one can never (in my experience) win any money at an empty table or one with an atmosphere of doom, which does sometimes come rolling in like a blue norther on a bad Texas Autumn afternoon.
Savvy crap shooters recognize the early warning signs of ‘The Atmosphere of Doom’ and fly away like scalded rabbits just before, or just as it descends.
This table was on the upswing and I intended to make quick work of it before the worm turned. (The worm always turns, but sometimes, thankfully, it takes some long time in the turning.)
Looking up and down the side of the table, opposite the ‘Boss’ and the dealers and the stick men and all, I studied the other contestants. There was a young couple to the right of ‘Normal Guy’. Right out of “Honey Moon Ville,” I guessed.
Next to them stood a nervous-acting, fidgety Middle-Eastern type wearing a white starched shirt and lots of bling. Next to him, a dude with a crew cut, tight shirt, bulging biceps, who may have been suffering from ‘Roid Rage’, given his overly passionate ramblings at the dice as they bounced down the green felt.
At the far end of the table there was a young big-bosomed bleach-blond hanging onto the arm of another elderly well-dressed business man. (‘A man and his Hooker’, I ungraciously thought).
Next to them there was a diminutive oriental man. I was thinking ‘China’, but could not be certain. I had a wonderful experience once at a craps table at The Golden Nugget following the streak of another China Man. Won almost two grand while he was in control of the dice.
You see, all craps players are infamously superstitious and from that night forward every time I encountered an ‘Ornamental’ man shootin’ crap the needle on my Juju Meter pushed slightly more into the green end of the spectrum.
There were several other players mixed in and even some standing behind, perhaps waiting for some space to open up. I was happy with the crowd and the level of ‘Good Juju’.
After the current ‘roll’ had ended (wins all around) I pulled out four Benjamins and put them on the table in front of one of the dealers.
“Give me two hundred green ($25), and two hundred red ($5),” I announced. The dealer spread out my four bills so ‘The Eye in the Sky’ could get a look. He then stacked my chips and slid them toward me.
“Good luck Sir,” he said, as I split the chips (‘Checks’ in the Vegas’ vernacular.) with Shonnie.
With all the bets paid, Normal Guy was ready to go at it again. I instructed Shonnie to take a red chip and place it in front of her on the “Pass-line” (If you don’t know how Craps works, you may be at some loss here—I will try to make it as easy to understand as possible.) I placed a red chip in front of me on the Pass-line as well.
All bets placed, Normal Guy tossed the dice toward the far end of the table. He rolled a four. (Meaning he had to roll another four before he rolled a seven, thus crapping out.)
“Put two red chips behind your bet,” I told Shonnie.
“We’re taking the odds,” I said.
“I don’t understand.”
“Just do it. Smartly.”
She stacked up the chips behind her original bet and I did the same.
On a hunch, I tossed a red chip onto the middle of the table and yelled, “Hard Four!” (Betting that the shooter will make his ‘four’—called his ‘point’, but that he will do it ‘the hard way,’ i.e., two deuces and not an ace and a three.
This is really a sucker bet, but I had Dama Fortuna in my corner. The bet pays ten for one, which if won, would net me forty-five dollars, plus of course our pass line bets with the odds placed behind them would win as well.
Normal guy tosses… wait for it… Double Deuces! Pandemonium from the players. Everybody wins!
“How did you know to do that?” Shonnie asks, as some decent stacks of red chips came our way.
I gently curled my fingers around Shonnie’s tiny neck, pulled her ear to my lips and whispered, “Stick close Baby. Gonna be a bumpy night.”
Winners paid, Shonnie and I put another two red chips on the pass-line. Normal guy rolls an eight. We back up our bets with two each red chips. Normal guy then rolls a seven. Aw Shit! Crapped out! No worries. We are still way ‘up’.
Now the dice pass to Shonnie. I can see she has stage fright. One of the dealers senses this too.
“Don’t worry Little Lady! Newbies are always lucky!” He says.
The ‘table’ agrees and I see chips of all colors dropping unto the ‘Pass-line’.
Shonnie and I both place one each twenty-five dollar green. Yes. I was confident. All bets now placed, I watch as she picked up the dice. Picked them up as one might imagine someone picking up a rotten banana, or a dead rat, or a used condom.
“They won’t bite,” I assured her. Just toss them at the end of the table. Oh and shake ‘em a little. And here, let me blow on ‘em.
“Blow on ‘em?” she said incredulously.
“Old Indian Tradition. Remember I am part Comanche.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Baby,” I said, “You can roll your eyes at me all you want, but right now I want you to roll those bones, er… dice toward the end of the table and don’t forget you can only use one hand to do so.”
“One hand?” she protested. “I always throw a baseball with both hands.” I hoped she were joking.
“Baby, this ain’t little league. Use only one hand or they will frown and act perverse.”
“Okay,” she said. Then after shaking the dice a bit, she wound up… and threw the dice…
…Right over the heads of the players at the far end of the table and off into space, most likely reaching escape velocity somewhere in the vicinity of Caesar’s Palace.
Collective groans from the table.
In craps, the absolute worst thing one can do is miss-the-fucking-table!
That, THAT! Is Extremely BAD Juju.
Dice are like the American or the Texan Flag. Never, ever let them touch the ground. Ever!
It always, always forecasts a negative outcome. Ninety-Nine times out of one hundred, the next roll will produce a crap out. In Shonnie’s case, the anticipated next roll would be snake-eyes, Box cars, or ace-deuce.
All instant losers.
I watched as most of the table players pulled chips back from their original bets. Not me. As someone went searching for the errant dice, I told Shonnie to put two more green chips on her pass line. I did the same.
We now had one hundred-fifty-dollars bet, even though I was not certain she would find green felt upon her second attempt.
She was offered two more dice by the dealer (stick man, just another word for him). I whispered in her ear, “Just relax Honey. Use a little less passion and a little more finesse this time. You’ll do great.”
She shook the dice, wound up, and pitched ‘em down the lane. When they came to rest: Natural Eleven! Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner!
I grabbed her and kissed her hard on the mouth.
“Now, Do that again Little Dynamo Darlin'” I said.
Well… Now! Suddenly the table went nuts! Large bets were placed all around (after some applause).
Shonnie kept ‘control’ of the dice for the next fifteen or twenty minutes: an eon in ‘Craps Time’.
We won well over a grand, some thanks to my recklessly wild betting and some thanks to the favor of Dame Fortuna.
But of course, most of the thanks went to Shonnie’s curve ball.
When she finally crapped out, there was more applause. Everyone had ‘gotten well’ with her streak. And there are no more appreciative gamblers than craps’ shooters when it comes to situations such as these.
“Color us up,” I said to the dealer as I pushed our stacks and stacks of chips toward him.
“But Sir,” He protested, “You’re up. Aren’t you going to shoot?”
“Nope. We’re done here, but thanks.”
Shonnie and I gathered our (now mostly black–$100 chips.
I double-tapped a black chip on the table and tossed it to the Pit Boss. “For the Boys” I said.
“Thank you Sir,” he said back.
“What now?!” Shonnie demanded gruffly, but wearing all smiles.
“Blackjack Baby. Blackjack.”
“Lance. You’re nuts! I have never had so much fun! I love y… this!”
“Yeah, I know.”
(On both accounts)
If you are new here, or a long-lost returning Pilgrim, you may want to begin your Shonnie Journey Below
And then simply “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”
i.e., The Lancelot Links:
Commentary Section From The Original Post:
LAMarcom June 26, 2014 at 16:45
Maybe ‘distrust’ is too strong a word. It is just that I have had some major losing streaks at the Plaza BJ tables. And of course I cannot blame my poor money management skills for that! Haha!
Thanks for your visits here and for your comments.
LAMarcom June 26, 2014 at 16:44 Edit
Thank you Sadie. Gonna try to get another chapter up tonight.
I appreciate your visits very much. And your comments Too!
~ Sadie ~ June 26, 2014 at 14:08 Edit
Can’t wait for more, Lance! Great story, great storytelling!! I have loved looking forward to each new chapter 🙂
Exile on Pain Street June 26, 2014 at 06:31 Edit
Why did you distrust the dealers at The Plaza? They’re as honest as the day is long. Seriously…what’s not to trust? Shonnie’s right. BJ is boring. Craps rules.
I’m going to catch up on on these chapters sooner or later. I love a good casino tale. Maybe I’ll get fired or laid off. That’ll give me loads of free time.