My life

The young fellah thinks you readers can’t read and enjoy my scribblings unless you know something about me. I’ll hold that thought for the next time I visit a zoo to watch an orangutan eat a banana. Was about to suggest he go mate with the slot machines, but it occurred to me he might end up a winner. Stopped me cold.

I was a serious disappointment to my father — you’re not gonna like me much neither. He was a workaholic actuary and force-fed me math and statistics whenever he was home — dreaming we would rule the insurance industry. Mothers were seen and not heard in those days. Me? I was using that math to talk the local clubs and bars into letting me run a repair service on their one-armed bandits. My rep soon spread as I could spot the loose machines and restore the edge. Knew those hold worksheets backwards and sideways too.

Born during WWII, news of the Korean War was a serious disappointment to me. Wars were coming along too fast for my liking. Basic common sense told me being a grunt in the army was likely to get me shot up. I needed a way to handle the threat.

The day I graduated from High School, I enlisted in the Navy. My father had me down for Princeton or Stanford for math. He never spoke to me again which made a welcome change.

With my family background and ability with numbers, I was a natural for officer training but, having a lifetime of my father telling me what to think, I was never going for that. I sold them on training me as a Storekeeper. This moved me round the shore bases, working on ship whenever I wanted to go someplace new. Wherever I went, I picked up the local games and made contacts. I got to Cuba before the revolution and saw their casinos. Later got myself posted to Europe and studied their way of doing things. But I done all that was worth doing — played mah jong in Hong Kong, sic bo and pai gow in Macau. Made a quiet name for myself, until one week in Trabzon, I represented the US Navy against the Russian Navy in the biggest underground single-pot gambling event ever staged. Enjoyed the anchovies as well.

When my time was up, I dropped off radar. All those contacts paid off. The first electromechanical slot machines were coming in. Took a good few of them to bits. Figured them out. Worked for the pit bosses around the US until the call came from my friends in Macau. After that, I was kinda footloose. Setting up carousels of slot machines, breaking new ground, training all the local operators how to keep their edge. Soon I was a consultant on all gaming, but never lost my interest in slot machines as the newer video poker machines were coming through development.

Got to know all the professional gamblers as well. Most of the time, it was live and let live. We all had the same skills, just on different sides of the fence. There was a running competition on the slot machines. They worked teams on the carousels but never really hit our bottom line — there weren’t enough of them. We just used them to teach us about our own machines. If they hit a better strategy, it was down to me to figure it out and find a way of keeping the house edge. It kept me sharp.

But, I had this deal. Come sixty, I was gone. Got me some houses in prime locations around the world and a swanky yacht for swanning around in — my friends have been generous. Sure, there’s a shadow or two keeping an eye on me now, but I reckon they all trust me enough to leave me walking around for a few more years yet. Mostly, you’ll find me in casinos, real world or online. Prefer to play poker cross the table. But still play the slot machines for old time’s sake. Can’t break the habit of a lifetime even if I am only playing for pin money these days — just to keep my hand in and what’s left of my my mind sharp, so to speak.

So I seen it all, done more than you can ever imagine and then some. And I’m the biggest bullshitter you ever met.