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I just thought I’d write a few vaguely amusing posts having just come back from Abu Dhabi (Blackhat) and Brazil (OWASP). A few weeks back my Wife was having a rather fancy soiree work party that also had a casino night attached to it. I was pretty annoyed about the whole work party thing, having rarely had a good time at these things in the past. So immediately I start looking for ways to entertain myself. Well upon entering they gave us both a ticket which we could turn in for $500 in chips. Then they said, “For every $100 in chips you turn in we’ll give you a ticket.” Immediately I saw a fault, “So if I give you $500 in chips you’ll give me 5 tickets… and if I give you 5 tickets you’ll give me $2500 in chips? Do you see a problem with that?” My wife was instantly annoyed - she knows full well I’ll ruin the whole night for everyone if I start cheating. So she tells me I’m not allowed to do that. Okay, maybe I just shouldn’t have said it out loud. I just love cheating at games and she knows it.
So I take my ticket and my Wife’s ticket who has decided to ditch me to talk to her work friends while I do the casino night thing. They give me $1000 in chips in exchange, and a few caveats. The first is that there are three prizes at the end of the night, an iPad, and two Flip videos and the drawing is after the casino closes at 10:30. They also tell me that I can buy back in at any time for $20 and get another $500 in chips. Fair enough. So I peruse the various games. Roulette - a fast game but crap for odds. Poker, a man’s game, with good odds if you’re good at playing, but way too slow. Blackjack - ahh, perfect. Blackjack has good odds, it’s fast, and it’s also social, so I can at least talk to some people while I play. Plus it doesn’t hurt that id was a professional Blackjack player for years and taught me everything I know about it.
So I start playing Blackjack and I realize right away two very important things about the dealer. First - she’s very good - Vegas quality good. The second is that she doesn’t care at all about her job. I see her bury cards when it’ll bust someone, even when they don’t notice or particularly care. She’s doing it so slyly though that I’m the only one who’s noticing. So I call her out on it in a good way and tell her she should work in Vegas. Well it turns out that she used to, and we hit it off. I notice that she starts helping me out too. So I vary my bet and start increasing my winnings from $25 per hand to $100 then $500 and eventually $1000 or more a hand. Meanwhile I’m trying to help other people by paying to get them to split when they should - making a few thousand for other players here and there. I know the dealer appreciated that because happy customers makes for bigger tips.
Now this dealer, for the most part is in a $1-5 tip situation per person. I realize by the end of the night I’ll probably end up with the highest chip count by at least three times, so I tell her to let me know when she’s going to play the last hand. The last hand comes and I give her a $20 bill as a tip, partly because she had made the night so much fun when I had had such low expectations of the whole thing, and partly because I knew it would help me in the last hand. Of course she was very thankful. So on my last hand of the night I bet $7000. She intentionally busted herself out and instead of paying me $7000, she paid me $10,000.
So at this point I’m at $22,000 and change in chips with the next highest player that I could see being at $4,000. So I give her a big hug goodbye because she had just made the whole thing that much better. Then she slipped me two more $10,000 chips, for a grand total of $42,000 and change in chips. So I am more than 10x higher than the next highest player. That sounds all well and good, except now I have to convert a relatively small number of high value chips into tickets. So a huge line builds up as a half dozen volunteers have to sit there and rip up 420 tickets. It took a lot longer than I had expected and people were starting to get pissed. And rightfully so since I was basically guaranteed to win something or everything at that point. So I settled for closer to 300 tickets, just so I could get out of there without getting on my Wife’s company’s shit-list. And here’s the smarmy talk show host picture of it:
Surprisingly my Wife was actually amused by the whole thing, because she’s usually annoyed by my antics. For $20 we ended up winning a Flip and I had the best time I’ve ever had at one of those stupid work parties. If I had tried to buy the tickets using their assigned value in actual cash it would have taken $1,680 - a pretty expensive Flip if you ask me. The amusing questions went along the lines of, “What did you play?” followed by, “Man, I should have played Blackjack! All I got was $800 in chips.” My Wife says that I’m a dick.