By W.R. Jones

    My daughter watched a movie about this group of students from MIT, lead by a professor, who “beat” the Las Vegas casinos at black jack.  She was impressed.  I read a book about the same group, which, I suppose, is where the movie came from; I was not impressed.

    They applied all their considerable intelligence and focus to create slightly favorable odds at a card game.  And they made some money.  The book implied, or maybe even spelled out, that it was a fairly large sum.  But really, how large exactly?  And after you broke it down to the number of man hours spent, how much did they make per hour?   With an MIT education would you want to spend your days counting cards?  +1, 0, +1,+2,+1,+2,+3…..  wow, wonderful use of that trained mind.

    I never would have made that team.  My mind wanders too far and too often; “Say there, dealer, could you replay that last 47 hands?  I seem to have lost my count.”

    And it was still a gamble.  They could have lost a ton.  If that group had applied the same level of effort at creating a business with a product or service, they had even better odds of financial success that also had some benefit to the world.

    From the first days of playing cards, dice, Monopoly, golf, etc. as children, from age about 10yrs I would guess, all my friends and I had an aversion to gambling.  We wanted the other guy’s money with very little if any risk.

    So we cheated.  We tried everything, homemade rings with mirror (you can imagine how attractive and professional it looked), mirror on ceiling, various signalling techniques, marked cards, loaded dice.  Eventually, as those techniques all failed, we moved to the simple but effective strategy  of ganging up on an individual target.  This is done by overtly playing normally but after taking the target’s money, and after he left the room, we would all return what we had started with and then divvy up his cash.  This method worked very well and we would sometimes clean out an entire golf team if we were on the road.

    Loyality was very fluid in our group, and money scarce, so if you were the last to arrive at a card game, the odds were in favor of you being the target of the evening.

    The last card game I ever played was on an aircraft carrier in the Navy.  I forget what the game was but we were playing partners and gambling.  That was one of the few honest (at least as far as I knew) games that I remember.   I made a stupid (what a surprise) mistake that cost my partner and I two weeks pay.   He flew into a frothing rage and actually threw the table at me.  I told him I didn’t think I wanted to be his partner anymore.  That started him laughing; he didn’t believe I could be serious.


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10 Responses to Cheat

  1. Just think how much money is being made with the publication of that book and movie … and that’s no gamble! :D

  2. gypsy-heart says:

    You had me laughing again..good way to start a Monday!

    Gambling is a subject I am quite familiar with..not me, but my Mother’s side of the family. They were all card playing (poker)gambling people. Quite nice looking souls they were…which may have been distracting in itself. :) They were like characters out of the old movies..wild and free spirited.

    Now my Dad’s side were the opposite..conservative and very religious. Needless to say, my parents did not remain together.

    Me I think I am somewhere in the middle. I am very free spirited…spiritual (used to be “religious”..until I wised up). Not a gambler though…not even a good eyes always give me away. hee, hee. I admit to a gypsy-heart though!

    You are lucky he only threw the table at you…they (my people)used to carry guns and knives! :O

    Hey at least I did not have a boring typical

    I like your drawing…by the way, that is my son’s favorite card. That is another story!! Let’s just say the apple didn’t fall far from the tree..just once removed.

    Thanks for sharing your crazy life with us!

  3. wrjones says:

    Well, you do have a point there, Janet. I wonder if the man who started this was considering that from the start.

    Gypsy-heart, I think everyday should start with a giggle. Glad to help get yours off on the right foot. I did get stabbed in the hand once. But that was over a pool game and I was NOT cheating (so’s you notice anyway). I doubt you have had a boring any period in your life. As long as your son didn’t fall from the tree into the weeds like me.

  4. Your sketch is great. I like the hand coming out of the paper holding the card. The hand and card stand out great.

    I spent a few years on a carrier myself. I still have dreams of it from time to time.

  5. Dianne Mize says:

    I really like the drawing. Don’t know why, though, but I expected to see a bit of dirt under the thumbnail. It’s not because I read the post before looking at the drawing; if I’d done that, I’d seen it in a totally different light. Maybe. Did you ever notice in those Renaissance paintings the dirty fingernails? Maybe that’s why.

  6. wrjones says:

    Thanks, Preston. I used to have what I call nightmares about still being on the ship. Over the years they dissipated.

    Dianne – It was probably graphite under my nail. It wouldn’t have been dirt from any type of work.

  7. I truly believe deep down in my heart of hearts that when someone throws a table at you or perhaps a hatchet, or perhaps a projectile shot forth from a firearm, it is a signal that the partnership is kaput. Go Navy!

  8. thedailydish says:

    Lovely sketch! I always find hands and feet hardest to draw. You make it look so easy.

  9. wrjones says:

    David, after a table is thrown at you, you would not believe how hard it is to concentrate on the cards and not worry about a second blunder. It’s events like this that have removed the protective sheathing around all my nerves.

  10. wrjones says:

    Thanks dish, hands and feet are difficult. I draw them over and over and over and still struggle each time.

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