Tonight’s the Night! – Gambling With An Edge

Listeners to the GWAE podcast know that Richard Munchkin is one of my favorite storytellers. When a guest on the show takes us through memory lane, it sometimes jogs one of Richard’s stories and I just sit back and listen with enjoyment. 

With that in mind, Richard’s brother Jake made a long post on Facebook in late December that caught my eye. It was about blackjack in the early 80s and their team was playing in Atlantic City somewhere. At that time, there was no device law in the New Jersey gaming statutes and so it was completely legal to use electronic devices inside the casino. Teams tried various forms of computers to assist them in playing blackjack and other games. At that time, computers were very primitive relative to today, and often this involved pressing buttons with your toes and getting tiny shocks on your leg to tell you what to do. There would be wires running up your legs to your battery pack. All kinds of things could and did go wrong with this, but in general the process was successful enough that casinos finally banded together and lobbied the state legislature to ban electronic devices used to predict the outcome of casino games. 

In this particular story, Jake wrote that he and Richard were told to go out and get some C batteries. So, they went to a store and the owner said he had about 40 batteries. Richard said he would take them all. The owner’s eyes brightened and then grew suspicious. Who on earth needs 40 C batteries at the same time? Is this a Unabomber? Some kind of terrorist? Does the owner have some sort of civic duty not to sell so many batteries to such a dangerous character?

The last thing Richard was going to say, of course, was, “We’re on a blackjack team and we build devices to extract money from the casinos.” While this activity was 100% legal, it sounded 200% suspicious!

So, thinking fast, Richard said, “I bought my wife one of those vibrator thingies, and she told me to go out and get some batteries, because tonight’s the night!”

Jake continued with his story, but so far as I was concerned, the story was over right there. Richard and I compete in 99-second story events which require that the stories must be true and involve the storyteller in a meaningful way.  They frequently end with a surprise, humorous ending and “tonight’s the night!” qualifies nicely.

I knew Richard wasn’t actually married at that time, and surely there were many details Jake left out of the story.  And I wanted to see how Richard set up the story to deliver that punchline.

So, I texted Richard asking if he was planning to craft a 99-second story around Jake’s story. 

“What story?”

“The one about the batteries.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You know, you told the store owner you’d take all 40 batteries, vibrator thingie, tonight’s the night! You must remember this story!”

“Oh yeah. I know that story. Can’t use it.” 

“Why on earth not? Was Jake exaggerating the facts or somehow told the story wrong? It strikes me as being perfect for the next 99-second event.”

“Oh, the story is completely true and Jake tells stories well. It’s just that it was a different Richard!”

Aha! Now I understood. Richard couldn’t use it because he was not involved in the story. I forgot that Jake often says “Munchkin” or “Munch” when he’s talking about our Richard, probably just for this reason. 

So, Richard can’t use the story to compete in the 99-second event. But on my blog, I can make up my own rules! I can tell the story here just because I think some of you will enjoy it! 

So, did you?


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