Casino chip


One of the very first times I got lucky (at gambling) was at the Montreal casino. I was playing roulette: a seductive game for imbeciles. There is no strategy, skill, or cunning required. If you sneezed and accidentally dropped a few chips on the table, you could still leave a hero. A shaky ostrich could play this game. A washing machine with a brick in it could play this game. Drunk teenagers from Ontario could play this game.

An errant chip from my friend Gunn’s pile rolled on the number 31. He left it there and sure enough it came up on the next spin. What followed was a crazy run for both of us. I was plunking down stacks and hitting them straight up. We were hitting rows and streets; a killer “inside game” as we say in the roulette world. Rarely a spin went by without one of us hitting something. Strangers followed our every move. It was truly magical.

But deceptive. I have not since played roulette with the same level of success and now I just avoid the game altogether. I learned an important lesson about first successes in Montreal: they are often artificial, the product of pure happenstance, and never to be repeated.