Down and Up in Blackjack

I folded out three hundred dollar-bills, and the dealer slid me two stacks of red. I was in. 20141022_200117The dealer got a succession of Blackjacks and was unsmiling about it.

I studied his name tag – Ji-Young – as he changed another $200 into reds. “How do you pronounce your name?”


I tried.

“20% right.”

I tried again.

“60%.” He continued to deal.

I continued to lose. “Yi-juan?”


And then I had a small run going, almost two hundred of money back, but slid again. A new dealer arrived, Dan from Chicago, a fan of the Blackhawks, and I started to win again until Ji-Young returned and with him, my bad luck; I had to buy more chips. 20141022_200456It was late, 3 am; the shift changed arrived. My new dealer, Rebecca, was from Korea. I broke even with her and then started to lose again until an affably drunk guy from Santa Barbara sat down. “How you doing?”

“Not so great.”

“I’m drunk.” He looked at his cards; he had a 3 and a 2.

“Should I hit that, Rebecca?”


“Should I hit?”

“You have a 5.”

“Should I hit that?”

She stared at him, irritated her shift had to start with this trouble-maker. “It’s a 5.”

“You from China?”


“Would you hit that in Korea?”

“You want a card?”

He tapped the table. “Hit it.”

It was a 4.20141022_200409

“What should I do now?”

“You have a 9.” She was curt.

“A 9? Huh.” He looked at me. “Should I hit it?”

“That’s what the book says.” I always said that.

“Okay.” He tapped the table again.

Rebecca delivered a 6.

He looked up at her, considered it for a moment and then waved his hand. “Stick.”

Rebecca flipped her cards, revealing a 16 and went bust. And It continued like that, the Santa Barbara Drunk giving Rebecca a hard time, only after long deliberation, hitting his 7s and 8s, and Rebecca then going bust. Things began to turn; I was getting my money back.