The Reluctant Gambler - By Brian Law

The Casino’s Security Chief leaned down, looked at the security camera’s screen, and asked the operator, “Okay, so what am I looking at?” 

“You’re looking at Dewey Smith, sir. He’s just entered the Casino and is heading towards the blackjack tables.” 

The two watched the screen as Smith, dressed in a V-neck t-shirt, swimming trunks and flip flops, walked slowly to one of the empty blackjack tables, nodded to the dealer and purchased one thousand dollars in chips. 

“Now, sir, watch closely.” 

Smith bet one thousand and won the hand. Collecting his winnings, he went to the cashier and then left the Casino. 

Standing upright, the Security Chief took out a cigarette, lit it and then asked, “What was I supposed to be seeing there, anyway?” 

“Sir, you just saw what Dewey Smith does every Thursday morning about this time. He walks in dressed just like today, buys a thousand in chips, plays just one hand, cashes out and leaves.” 


“Sir, he wins every time he plays. Every time. One hand, a thousand dollars, and he wins every time! Like clockwork,” the operator replied. “We wouldn’t have even noticed except one of our dealers mentioned to the pit boss that she’s seen Dewey Smith doing the same thing at two other casinos she’s worked at. So, when we heard this, we started taping him every time he entered the casino. We’ve got eight videos on file of him if you want to watch them.” 

“Is he doing this at the other casinos, too, as far as we know?” 

“We put a tracking device on his car and, yes, he goes to a different casino each morning. We shadowed him for a week, and he’s doing the same thing in each one of those joints that he does here. Wins every time at blackjack and with just one hand each time, sir!” the operator related. 

“Have you been able to determine how he’s doing it?” 

“It can’t be collusion with a dealer, sir. He goes to a different dealer each time. And he can’t be counting cards either. It’s just one hand. And he’s not marking them, either, for the same reason. That’s why we’ve brought this to your attention, sir. You’ve been at this much longer than the rest of us, so you must have seen every way to cheat at blackjack there is.” 

“You got the tapes of this guy, Dewey, on file so I can watch them?” 

“Yes, sir. I can have all eight hands put up on your office screen in a few minutes. They’ll all be time synchronized.” 

“Good. It shouldn’t take too long to figure out what he’s up to. Have a fresh pot of coffee sent up to my office, will you. I’m going to take a leak before I get busy with our Mr. Smith.” 

“Right, sir.” 

Ten minutes later the Security Chief was in his office, smoking another cigarette and working on his second cup of coffee. He’d watched the synchronized videos three times, twice in slow motion, and each time he took notes. 

No glasses. 

No watch. 

No hat. 

No buttons. 

Short sleeves. 

He’s alone at each table. 

He never looks up from the table. 

Never talks to the dealer except for change. 

Never orders a drink. 

After thirty minutes, six cigarettes, two more cups of coffee, and twenty more viewings of the same videos, the Security Chief was still no closer to figuring out how Dewey Smith was winning than thirty minutes ago. 

He stayed at it alone in his office for the next thirty-six hours, smoking, drinking coffee, watching the videos again and again, and taking more notes. He wasn’t going to let some penny-ante cheat like Dewey Smith get the better of him. He, after all, had a reputation to defend as the top Security Chief on the Vegas Strip. 

But his heart had other plans for him. 

The Casino’s Floor Supervisor watched as the EMTs discretely carted the body bag out the service exit, loaded it into the ambulance, and headed to the morgue. If any other employee had died at work, there would have been a moment of silence among the staff. There would be some tears, too. 

But not for that son of a bitch, the Floor Supervisor thought to himself. The Security Chief was a notorious bully and harasser of the staff and should have been fired years ago, except he knew too much about the Casino’s shady operations. They finally decided he had to go, but it had to look like a natural death. 

They discovered Wendell Lathrop, aka Dewey Smith, at a donut shop south of the Strip. His business was struggling and while he was an honest man, he was easily convinced to play the role of Dewey Smith for a while. What was funny was that he didn’t know how to play blackjack. They told him just to go to any table, ask for change, and let the dealers do the rest. Which he did, and they let him keep the winnings. 

Good dealers are good judges of character. And all the dealers knew what a scum bag the Security Chief was, but they also knew his weakness. He just couldn’t let a cheater get the best of him. No way, never. 


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