Jack the @#$% Vintian

Posted on February 18, 2002 in Uncategorized

Day 56, Year 545 of the Ascendancy

Some people were never meant to gamble. Some people just don’t know how
to quit when they’re up, or stop when they’re down. I am one of these
people. It all started innocently enough yesterday, when I decided to
blow the 25 coins that I had on Black Jack. I decided to try out a
theory of mine which I have been thinking about for a while. The gist
of it is this: I start off by betting 1 coin, and if I lose it I bet 2,
and if I lose that I bet 4, and so forth. That way, when I win I will
always make a 1 coin profit. Also, it gives me multiple chances to win,
and probability dictates that it is unlikely that I will end up losing
5 games in a row.

So, I set about testing this theory, and surely
enough it worked. It took me a bit, but I worked my way up from 25
coins to more than 50. As I was playing, a fen named Dartalion sat down
at the table, and joined me in playing in Black Jack. After a few
minutes of playing, however, my luck turned sour. Though it is unlikely
to lose 5 games in a row, it is certainly within the realm of
possibility. Jack Vintian dealt me hand after hand of bad cards, and I
ended up losing all my money, save two copper pennies. I shrugged my
shoulders at this point, bid Dartalion good day, and stood up to leave
the casino. It should have ended right there. I should have left the
caino and gone on with my life. That should have been the end of my
gambling. But it wasn’t.

As I started to walk towards the door, Dartalion
called out to me. I halted mid-stride, puzzled, and turned back to
Dartalion, who tossed me a small sack. The sack contained 10 copper
coins. I grinned at Dartalion, bid him thanks, and seated myself down
at the table again for another game of Black Jack. Little did I know
that I was making a grave mistake. I placed my bet on the table,
expecting to lose, but ended up doing something far worse. I won. Hand
after hand I won, and even those hands I lost, I made up in record
time. Soon my money was doubled, trippled, quadroupled, and more. I sat
there entranced, hardly believing what was happening. I had discovered
a fountain of money. Once I amassed a hundred coins, I started betting
by 2’s, then 4’s, then 5’s, ’til I found myself betting by 20’s and
40’s. After several hours of gambling, against all likelihood, I had
amassed over 900 coins.

At this point, my luck began to sour. The
trickster Jack Vintian pulled three Black Jacks in a row, and I ended
up losing nearly all of my money. The only way I could recover from my
loss was by betting 640 coins, which I no longer had. Not wanting to
lose all of the money I had made in the past 4 hours or so, I paid a
visit to the bank and pulled out the money I needed from my
Phantasmonomicon fund. I placed the bulging stack of coins down on the
Black Jack table, and crossed my fingers. To my profound relief, I won.
I rushed back to the bank, deposited the money I had withdrawn, and
returned to the table.

I played for several more games, and started to
win once more. However, once I hit 1100 coins, I began losing again.
Soon, I found myself in the same predicament I was in before. I had to
withdraw 640 coins from the bank again, to get back the money I had
gambled. This time, however, I lost the hand. I was shocked, my head
was spinning, and I began to lose my wits. I returned to the bank
again, and this time I withdrew all my savings. I then rushed back to
the Black Jack table, and placed down my bet of 1280 coins. To my
dismay, the dealer dealt me a lousy hand of 14, which I did not want to
risk by hitting. I stood with 14, and slowly watched as Vintian drew
his cards. 3-5-6-2-9-BUST!!! I had won my money back!

I jumped up and down in elation, and ran down to
Dartalion, who had been watching the game, and gave him a big hug.
That’s when I realized that the dealer hadn’t payed me yet. I returned
to the table, and demanded that I be payed my winnings. However, the
dealer feigned ignorance, and refused to pay me my money. I was
furious, but there was little I could do about it with the bouncer
watching. I had lost all of my winnings and savings, and was left with
only 200 coins. A little crazed by this point, I bet the rest of the
money I had, and began working my way up once more. I managed to reach
as high as 1400 coins, before I lost all of my money again. This time I
was totally broke. I left the casino, and headed for the library in a
daze. I’d lost every single coin I owned. It would take me forever now
to save up enough for a Phantasmonomicon.

That night, I could hardly sleep. My mind was
racing, thinking of how I could get my hard earned money back. Robbing
the casino was out of the question. I scrutinized my gambling strategy,
and decided I hadn’t been careful enough. I spent the rest of the night
thinking of ways in which to improve my strategy, and by the end of the
night I had a strategy that I felt was foolproof. Now, if I could only
borrow 1000 coins from someone, I could make back all of the money I
had lost, and make a hefty profit to boot.

The next day…

Totally convinced that my plan was going to work,
I set about trying to borrow a thousand coins from someone. In town I
ran into my friend Wormtounge, who is a merchant and banker of sorts,
and he agreed to lend me 900 coins at 5% interest a month, with the
collateral of two chains. I quickly agreed to the offer, and rushed to
casino to test out my revised theory. I played careful this time, and
made sure not to bet too high, or rush my bidding. After an hour or so,
my 900 coins had blossomed into 1600. However, chance is a screwy
thing. Every probability curve has it’s low end. In the games that
followed, I managed to lose every hand I played, and lost every single
penny I had made in the past hour, as well as the money I had been
loaned from Wormtounge.

Now, not only am I broke, but I am also in a lot
of debt as well. I thought I could win at the Black Jack game, but I
was wrong. I suppose there is a lesson to be learned from all this.
Perhaps it is “Stop playing while you’re ahead,” or “Casinos don’t get
rich by losing,” or “Not even mystics can outsmart probability.”
Whatever it is, the one thing I know for sure is that if Jack Vintian
ever finds himself alone in the Badlands, he will be wishing that the
only thing I take from him is his money.

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