Quote of the Day “so why don’t you shut up? You’re just a bitter old man.” –TB’s first and only words to the old coot to my right in this story
Old stories, more appropriate for telling over a beer or three in a bar or on a boat, are hard to recapture accurately in written words. But as doing so is not only one of the goals of this site, but the only way they can be communicated until I get a podcasting contract, that’s what you get.
It was back in about ought-one or so I guess. TB, Larry and Stone decided for some reason that a run over to Vicksburg’s showplace destination, the Rainbow Casino was in order. I swear, in a rush to get gambling money flowing the original Rainbow was little more than a double-wide trailer slapped upon an abandoned barge and sunk in the mud. It seemed like we were dodging cigarette butts, peanut shells and cow manure while threading our way between the Las Vegas Sands’ castoff slot machines. But TB was feeling it this night and determined to shoot some dice. I spied a suitable table over behind the compost heap, and while Larry disappeared to do whatever the hell it is Larry does, TB and Stone took up station at opposite ends of a three dollar minimum table.
As the dice went from person to person, I was “breaking even”, as the term is used vis a vis gambling. Stone was too. In fact Stone broke so even he had to sit out by the time the dice reached TB. A three dollar table, as any craps player knows, is a ripoff due to the poor odds you get on most bets. So TB went all out and played in five dollar units, one of only two players of about ten exceeding the minimums. The old coot to my right was playing with mostly c-note chips, and some 500 dollar chips. He’d been “breaking even” for quite awhile it seems. At any rate, the dice finally made it to TB and the fun began in earnest.
You know that feeling athletes call being in the zone? I was in the zone baby. I was making those freakin bones dance. I hit a point right off, then nailed a couple of 7’s and 11’s on the come out. I established another point and started hitting place bets and moving my bets slowly up. I hit a couple of more points and about that time I noticed the old coot next to me was starting to crowd me a little. I glanced over at his chips and saw he was playing the “don’t pass.” For those of you not clued in on craps, basically I was off to a good start, making a little money and the guy playing for a lot more money than me was betting against me instead of with me. It’s perfectly fine to do so, but is considered anti-social and the person is shunned by most players. What the old bastard was doing was trying to interfere with TB’s perfect (that night) form and rhythm because his stack of blacks was rapidly vanishing. There is absolutely no empirical evidence that once dice leave the hands of the thrower there is any way to control them. I know that to be true. But when I’m shooting, I don’t feel it to be true, and neither does anyone else, be it a monopoly player or a Vegas whale or the casinos themselves. I was making those dice hit exactly the same place on the table, bounce in to the precise point on the far wall at which I aimed and come down showing anything but a crap out. I was rocking back and forth in perfect harmony with the gods of luck, rubbing my hands together to keep them hot during the lulls. I was in the heart of the zone. The boat went to its first move with a hot shooter and changed the stick man, but to no avail.
After about 10 minutes of success, and the opposite result for the coot, I kicked in to high gear. Point after point, 7’s on the come out, hitting hard ways and parlays, and now the old coot was blowing cigarette smoke in my face and elbowing me in the ribs. It didn’t matter, I was taking the hits and making my throws like John Elway in the two minute drill on a cold day in Cleveland. The stick man changed again, and the dice got examined by the pit boss. The three dollar patrons were cheering my every move. Larry materialized from thin air, said something to which I responded, “get the hell away from me.” He got the hell away from me. The old coot started to cuss and I could see his spittle beginning to accumulate on the outside of my glasses. Another point, then another. The old coot asked for a marker for ten thousand. I looked up while they took care of his business and saw Stone, all two hundred seventy five pounds of him, pirouetting at the end of the table and high fiving a street bum with one of those beards that you can identify the individual hairs on and a watered down whisky and coke sloshing over onto the felt. Another point, and another and the old coot took another marker, then another. Stone’s dance moves threatened to upend the table, or maybe it was just a rogue Mississippi River wave or maybe it was the casino trying desperately to ruin my groove. But I was unstoppable.
Finally it was all over. For forty minutes the Rainbow and the old coot could not stop me, but the law of averages did catch up and allow them to contain me. My pitching arm was spent, rotator cuff inflamed, glasses irreparably smudged. I hadn’t breathed deeply the whole time. Stone was getting dizzy. My pile of reds were spilling off the table, climbing out of my pockets and protruding from my socks. The old coot wasn’t beaten though. He got in my face and berated me. “You stupid bastard!”, he wailed, you should’ve won at least ten thousand dollars on a roll like that. You don’t know what you’re doin!” For the briefest millisecond I considered his position. Any gambler feels remorse when its all over–either because he shouldn’t have bet, if he lost, or because he should’ve bet more if he won. But I felt the pleasing weight of all those plastic chips. My peripheral vision picked up Stone barreling over and through a throng of redneck humanity to get to me and slap my back and rub down my arm. Larry was peering out from a black jack table a couple of rows away waiting to see if it was safe for him to come back out. I would later find that I’d made nearly a thousand bucks, a lot of money for ole TB, then and now. I recovered my wits and reared like a grizzly after being hunched for so long and showed my size advantage and my glazed MD style crazy eyes to the old coot who immediately cowered beneath the table. “Listen you old coot! You could’ve bet with me and won fifty grand. That was damned stupid, so why don’t you shut up? You’re just a bitter old man.” It wasn’t the highlight of my retort career, but its what I said, and it was pretty satisfying at the moment. And the old coot shut up, beaten at last. And TB and a couple of his ARB’s went out to celebrate in style.
Bonus Quote of the Day “If I lose today, I can look forward to winning tomorrow and if I win today, I can look forward to losing tomorrow. A sure thing is no fun.” Chico Marx