Steve sat slumped dejectedly in an old broken down red vinyl chair placed against the wall near the bed in the cheap hotel room on the outskirts of Las Vegas. A myriad of thoughts danced through his mind as he contemplated what to do next. He was vaguely aware of the presence of four other people in the room who had started out as recruits and business associates. He now numbered these four unique individuals, who composed his blackjack team, among his best friends in the world.
Sam Ruck and Mack Varner sat at the table by the window dealing cards. They were taking turns, one trying to count the cards faster than the other could deal them. Lisa Cotton was seated on the bed watching some late night talk show while Jimmy Rute, the youngest member of the team, reclined at her side.
Steve was very much aware that, although no one was saying anything, all four were waiting for him to map out their strategy, not only for the immediate future, but for the next several weeks. The burden of leadership and the decisions he had to make weighed heavily upon him. He knew he had to call Hung Ciau and tell him what had happened, but he would rather take a beating.
Ciau and a couple of his associates in Slot Online Singapore along with one American business man had put together a syndicate to bankroll Steve and his team. Out of the $250,000 bankroll, so far they had only cleared $68,000 in profits and now they faced the potential of being put out of business all together. Steve knew that Ciau would not be happy. He recalled Ciau talking about potential profits as high as $2,000,000 over the next 18 to 24 months. $68,000 was only a drop in the bucket. No, Mr. Ciau would not be happy but there was one consolation, Steve thought. At least he had the luxury of breaking the news over the phone instead of having to face him in person.
Thoughts of Mr. Ciau were pushed out of Steve’s mind by the memory of the recent events that took place at the MGM Grand earlier in the evening. How did that Pit Boss know? What tipped him? Was the signal of Mack picking up his drink and taking a long sip too obvious? No, that couldn’t have been it. The Pit Boss was obviously trying to court him after that. Or, could it have been when Matt raised his bet from $5 to $10 when the count was no longer favorable? Steve could have sworn that the Pit Boss wasn’t really paying that much attention to Mack anyhow. After all, Steve thought, Mack is the best counter I’ve ever seen. He can carry on a conversation with 2 people at the same time and never miss the count. How did that Pit Boss know? What tipped him? It must have been me, was Steve’s conclusion. And now, Steve, Mack, and Lisa were barred from The Grand. At least Sam and Jimmy were still in the clear, Steve thought.
The team had already worked a dozen other casinos in Vegas with no problems. Profits had been fairly steady and as far as Steve could tell no one had a clue that a blackjack team was operating in their casino.
Almost without realizing it, Steve muttered under his breath, “Damn that Pit Boss anyhow. What tipped him?”
Mack stopped dealing cards for a moment and looked up, “Do you think it was anything I did?”
“I really don’t think so,” Steve replied. “Your act could have won an Emmy as far as I’m concerned.”
Mack looked a little relieved as he sighed and sat back in his chair and crossed his legs.
“Maybe it wasn’t any one thing,” Steve thought out loud. “Maybe it was a combination of every thing. Maybe the guy is just that good.”
But in his heart, Steve felt guilty. That little small voice that some people call a conscience and Steve called a nuisance was speaking to him now and telling him that it was his fault they got caught tonight. All their assaults on other casinos had been carefully planned. Steve had registered beforehand in several of the hotels and established a line of credit, then called for markers when he sat down to play. But just this once, he had grown over confident and gotten greedy and attacked the MGM without making proper preparations. Steve’s use of large amounts of cash must have somehow triggered a red flag in the Pit Boss’ subconscious. Steve had grown a little impatient with the time it took to properly set up a casino for play and he remembered thinking earlier in the evening that they should be able to just hit this casino for a few hours then get out and properly set it up later. It might even be to their advantage if Steve was a known high roller. But now Steve realized that greed, which is perhaps every gambler’s greatest adversary, had now seriously jeopardized the whole project.
“Well, what’s next Captain?” Jimmy inquired as he looked sideways at Steve out of one open eye.
Jimmy had always called Steve “Captain” from the first day they met and Steve explained that he was assembling a blackjack team. “And so, you’re the Captain of the team then,” Jimmy observed with heavy emphasis on CAPTAIN. Now Steve found himself wishing that someone else would answer to that title.
While Steve considered Jimmy’s question, he weighed his options. Now that 3 of the team had been barred, with all of the major casinos in Vegas using the Griffin security software to identify cheats and card counters and other undesirables, it would only be a matter of time before all the other casinos would follow suit if they were spotted. Steve wondered if their best chance would be to hit as many Vegas casinos as possible as quickly as possible and try to do as much damage as they could before the inevitable happened, or should they leave town right now and go to Reno or perhaps the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Perhaps if they cleared out right now and laid low for awhile in a smaller venue, they could come back to Vegas later. At least it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to try to work the same casino twice, not under present circumstances. But still, there were a lot of casinos in Vegas that they hadn’t hit yet. Shouldn’t they at least try to play them once before things got too hot?
A smile began to play at the corner of Steve’s lips. He sat up in his chair and was surprised himself at the casual resolve that filled his voice as he said to his teammates, “OK, guys, this is what we’re going to do.”