by Loudon Often

Island Casino – Longview Washington

I was at Cadillac Island (or Ranch, depending on which signage you are looking at), in Longview, Washington, made famous in my last visit by the prostitute who first convinced the dealer to pay my losing hand, then demanded I pay her $20 for the privilege, followed by threats of telling the pit boss on me if I didn’t.

This time I met Aaron, a young punk in an over-sized Ecko sweatshirt, backwards cap, and a cigarette tucked behind his ear. He was eagerly watching my play. He sat down, introduced himself and said, “Sir, I hope you take them for all their money. I think that they installed a new security system with all the money I’ve spent here.”

One minute later, “Sir, I don’t mean to say something that will bother you, but I was talking to the pit boss outside and he said that they were watching you because they think you are a card counter.”

“They think I’m a card counter?”

“Yes. Are you pissed?”

“It’s happened before.” I had a playing decision to make. “Aaron, how many cards do you think are in the discard tray?”

Aaron said he didn’t know. The dealer said “26” and I said, “No.” I’m going to go with 56. I raised my bets to 2 hands of $200. Pit bosses were nowhere in sight.

“I wish I knew how play like this,” whispered Aaron.

“You could read a book.”

This seemed to startle him. Books? Reading? Where would someone even get a book, much less care enough to spend time reading it?

“You’ve read books?” he asked.

“I’ve read books.”


“Or you could learn online.”

“Where, sir? I want to learn. Where? Where can I learn?”

“Try” I muttered. He made me repeat myself. And then again. And two minutes later he asked for that website again. We sat silently through the rest of the shoe.

Well into the next shoe I paused to make a playing decision based on whether or not there were two decks in the discard tray.

“Sir,” said Aaron, “Does it matter that 97 cards have been dealt?”

I just smiled. About every two minutes for the next half hour, Aaron asked me to repeat the name of the website. He finally left, but then came back one last time with a large spiral notebook and a sharpie pen, and leaned over the table. “What was that website again?”

– Loudon Often

If you enjoyed reading this read “Welcome to Ranch Island part I”