As I write this post, I am circling the pit looking for an opportunity to strike..
My left leg itches from the ten grand I have stashed inside my sock. I check the other leg for the other ten. Got it. Fifteen in my left pocket, fifteen in my right. Twenty in the money strap hidden in my waistband. Whenever I stand or sit I pat myself down to make sure it is all still there. This happens whether I am packing or not—a nervous tic picked up from being in my line of work. Even as I write, I am keeping perfect count of the cards as they come out of the shoe.
Who am I? I am a card-counting foot-soldier in the trenches — among the most feared in America according to surveillance personnel, gaming commission reps and other insiders I have met along the way. I am not Stanford Wong or Ben Mezrich, but neither are they working card-counters. Illustrious and celebrated, nevertheless they are PAST. I am PRESENT. Study the strategies of Patton, Lee or Napoleon. None of it will sufficiently prepare you for fighting in the streets of Fallujah.
My mission is to use everything at my disposal to defeat the enemy. My movements and communications are secretive. Nevertheless, it is not uncommon in my very first visit to a casino that pit or security personnel I have never met before will approach me by name and instruct me that I am not welcome to play blackjack in their casino.
Earlier this evening, at a different casino, I was unstoppable. I felt as if I was plucking enemy helicopters from the sky with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher as the pile of chips in front of me grew into the tens of thousands of dollars. But one battle is rarely ever like the next. At the moment, I am sensing danger…
Postscript: Only now can I finish this post. Minutes ago, as I counted down a shoe, I noticed the paper lying on top of the computer terminal–with my face on it. I happened to make eye contact with a pit boss at one end of the pit. He froze and then turned and sprinted to his terminal. I turned and walked away fast. I could hear phones starting to ring behind me. Down the corridor and out the front door.
A hundred yards away from the casino I was forced to wait for a shuttle bus to take me to an outer parking lot. As I stood in the rain and cold whipping wind, under a flapping tarp that failed to serve as a bus shelter, suits and security staff began amassing on my right and on my left, close to a dozen of them. We all stood silently as they followed my stare off into the darkness.
“Thinking about playing tonight?” one of the suits finally turned to me.
“Yes, as a matter of fact. But you don’t have a poker room do you?”
“Too bad. I was hoping to play some poker. That’s my game.” The wind gusted and the suits had to hold on to their coats. We all continued stared off into the darkness again, as the rain sliced through us in a stinging slant.
“You are not welcome here,” the suit finally said. With that, he and the bully squad pulled their suit coats over their heads and fled back into the casino like criminals.