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Red-faced players remember those times of discomfort

By John Grochowski

Everybody makes mistakes, and at the gaming tables that means everyone from the rawest newcomer to the most experienced veterans. Sometimes the errors cost money. Sometimes, they’re just embarrassing. Either way, readers have shared tales of times that are memorable, if a little awkward.


My husband and I play blackjack and video poker together, and sometimes he goes off by himself to play craps. I don’t play. He likes the noise and the high fives when everybody wins. I like quieter games. I like to relax a little.

He told me that baccarat was a good game to relax over when I didn’t want to concentrate and worry about strategy. One night when he went to craps, I went to mini-baccarat. It was a $10 table, and I bet the $10 to see what it was about. I don’t remember if it was on banker or dealer- I didn’t know the difference.

Before I knew it, the dealer was taking my money. I said, “Wait a minute, I haven’t even had any cards yet.” THAT’S when I found out only two hands were dealt, and the dealer played both of them. You’d think my husband would have told me. Then again, you’d think I would have asked. I was VERY embarrassed.


This was 20 years ago, and I still get embarrassed when I think about it. The riverboat casinos were new in Illinois. I’d played in Las Vegas, and had been to Atlantic City too, but blackjack 10 miles from home was new and different.

After a few hands, a cocktail waitress came around and I ordered a beer. She said, “That’ll be $2,” or maybe it was $3 or $5- I don’t remember anymore. The price wasn’t a big deal, it’s that I was getting charged at all. That didn’t happen in Vegas.

I overreacted. I said a little too loudly and a lot too angrily, “WHAT?” I wasn’t expecting it, and I snapped. She said, “I’m sorry, sir, but I have to charge you. That’s the law.” I was young and stubborn, and made some more noise, and before I knew it a supervisor and a security guard were right behind me. The supervisor did the talking. It was something like, “Look, sir, I don’t want to make you leave the gaming floor, because that would mean the security room for the next hour and a half until we dock.”

That shocked me. I said, “Sorry, but why … ” and he knew where I was going. He said, ‘We’re not allowed to camp alcohol by state law. I’m sorry that upsets you, but you’re going to have to calm down.” I’d never had trouble with security before or since, and I’ve always regretted being surly to the waitress.


I misread my hand at blackjack, and really made the other players angry. I had a 14, and the dealer’s card was a 6. I guess I was thinking 14 against a 10 or something, and I signaled for a hit. The dealer did a double take, and I signaled for a hit again.

I drew a 6, had 20. I think I heard “lucky bleep,” or something like that, from more than one player, and then I took in what I had actually done. Even though I had 20, I was pretty embarrassed by taking a hit in that situation.

Everybody else had a standing hand, and if the dealer had busted, that probably would have been the end of it. Of course, he didn’t. He had a 10 face down for a 16, and the next card gave the dealer had 21. He took my money, and he took the money from all the others who had called me a lucky bleep. If I’d stood, he’d have gotten my 6 and busted with a 22.

There was no “lucky” to go with the name calling after that. One guy just picked up his chips and left. Oops.


This is a good one. I was in a casino that had a nice little fun book. There was a coupon where you could win $10 for a $5 bet in blackjack, and another one for craps, and for roulette, and baccarat. I think there were slots and video poker coupons there too.

I stayed at the blackjack table for a while besides using the coupon. I went to the craps table and put $5 and the coupon on don’t pass. My plan was that I’d hope to win the one bet, get the extra payoff and move on to something else. I don’t really play craps much.

Anyway, the dealer said they wouldn’t take the coupon on don’t pass. I questioned that, because it didn’t say anything like that on the coupon. He said, ‘We made that a policy, because people were just using the coupons on don’t pass to try to steal a free nickel. Why don’t you just move it to pass.”

Well, stealing a free nickel, as he called the extra $5, was just what I was trying to do. But I moved my bet and my coupon over to pass, and it worked out good. The shooter made his point, and I won $5 on my bet and $5 on my coupon. Then I picked up all my money and walked away.

I could see the smirks on the crew and on the faces of other players as I did it. I’d “stolen” the “free nickel” just like they were trying to keep me from doing. I shouldn’t have been embarrassed about it. I did risk $5 of my own money and live up to the terms of the coupon.  Heck, I lived up to the altered, unwritten terms of the coupon.  But with those smirks, yeah, I was embarrassed.

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