The Lengthy Backoff


by “Levimich

There’s a small casino in the absolute middle of nowhere that I started frequenting once every week or two, about 4.5 hours away. One day I drove 3.5 hours to a casino to play and was met with terrible playing conditions, so I figured I’d drive another hour north to this next casino I had never been to before. Well, I ended up staying there for three days while having the most miserable losing session I’d ever had.

They have low table maxes (which I played two spots of) and their comp system is outrageous and totally not accurate. In a good way. They had no rooms available until they asked someone if they wouldn’t mind giving up a room for me to stay there… The first night I played there, I ended up meeting a couple friends, who the host introduced me to, who took me to some crazy indian powwow in the middle of the woods accompanied by a hundred-some drunk people, dealers who took thousands from me, and later some state cops. All while thinking, “how did I get myself into this?” the entire time.

Anyway, I eventually got back to my hotel room safely (hours later than I was told I’d be back) and went to sleep. I had asked the host the night before if there was anything fun to do around there and she asked me if I liked fishing, or kayaking or 4 wheeling. I said I thought 4 wheeling would be fun. So she calls up some local and pays him 100 bucks to take me on a crazy 4 wheeling trip, which was freaking awesome. I spent the next day or two covered in dry mud playing blackjack and losing even more money.

From then on, I started making these weekly trips, however none of them were as crazy as the first. Each week the host would tell me to stop playing blackjack and just go out an enjoy life outside of the casino. I’d always appreciated that. Her other suggestion was that I learn to count cards so I “wouldn’t lose so much all the time”. I told her I don’t think I’m smart enough for it and she always insisted I’d be perfect for it. She’s an awesome lady and all of the hours I’d spent hanging out in her office, I always wished I could just tell her.

This brings me to last week when a couple friends and I went up there to stay the night and play. I was playing a face-down double deck game (which I used to play all the time) with my friend who was playing dumb and acting like she had no idea what to do. We did this to bypass playing 2x the table min on both spots. She’d bet the same as me and use the excuse that she was just doing what I was doing because she didn’t know what was going on. We have played this act successfully in the past for several hours with no issues.

After playing a couple decks the dealer said that I couldn’t help her play her hand. We asked why and they said something along the lines of that it seemed as if I was just using her to play another hand (how absurd, I’d never do that). My friend asked them why I wouldn’t just play two on my own then and they just responded saying that it looked weird. My friend knows how to play well anyway and doesn’t really need my help deviating or anything anyway so we just accepted and continued playing.

A phone call comes down from surveillance and the pitboss starts watching the game over my shoulder. We were each betting the min for the first round and during that first round, the count rose to 10. After their comments at this point, we figured we were basically screwed and being watched anyway, so we did as we were supposed to and each pushed out the table max. “Shuffle!”… The pitboss made the dealer shuffle and the other old people at the table were all confused and started asking why they were shuffling already. They explained to them that we were betting too little and too much and we couldn’t do that. I said, “oh I thought I was allowed to bet the money that the table said I could bet… Do you not want my money?”. They just kept saying I couldn’t do that. So we colored up with a small win and went to cash out.

At this point, I decided I am pretty much done with that casino due to the distance, the low max and not being able to play the DD game freely. We went into the host’s office to find the pit boss warning the hosts about my play. They asked if I had met him and I told them that we had met once or twice. He walked out and then there was some awkward silence. She said “so I heard you got shuffled up on… You took my advice to heart??”. I told her that I’ve been counting all along *insert paranoid APs freaking out*.

We had a conversation about the relationship between casinos and advantage players, respect, and treating each other like humans instead of enemies. She told me she was going to miss me coming in and hanging out and that I could still come up and stay whenever I wanted to. She told me to wait in her office and she came back with a sweatshirt with the casino’s name on it as a farewell gift as I had told her I probably wouldn’t ever be back, at least for a long time. We hugged it out and said goodbye. But before I was leaving she said, “you know, *the guy who backed me off* said you could still play the 6 deck game because only Rainman could keep track of 6 decks!”.

I asked if she was freaking serious and said, “Challenge accepted!”. I played the 6D game for two shoes and won over a thousand bucks (on a low limit table) and that was that. They congratulated me…sort of… and that was the end of it. My two friends and I went to the restaurant to get some ice cream and celebrate. I had $360 on my comp card and gave it to the restaurant and told them to buy everybody’s meal up to $350. Needless to say, it was a great day for everybody. It’s always good to go out with a bang. I’m sure I’ll visit from time to time and maybe train players on their 6D. After all, only Rainman could count six decks.

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You can learn more about “levimich”‘s blackjack journey in his Profile of a Card Counter