Thursday, February 19, 2009


I have been to Las Vegas (yeah Vegas baby) twelve or thirteen so far in my lifetime to date. On one of these trips during the '90's my friend John Polak and I stayed at the Riviera Hotel on the Las Vegas strip.

During one of the evenings we decided to play some blackjack at the Riviera casino on the ground level of the hotel. We found a table and started to play. The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer's hand and get as close to the card value of "21" without going over 21. Two cards are initially dealt to each player plus the dealer. In most casinos the dealer has to stay with his hand if he has a value of 17 and hit a "soft 17". If the dealer goes over 21 then everyone wins that has cards in front of them after the dealer"busts". Face cards are valued as ten, cards 2-10 are valued at their face value, and "Aces" are valued as either 1 or 11. There are other things to be aware of in blackjack such as "splitting pairs, doubling down, surrendering" etc. but I won't go into them at this time. In summary there are certain rules and situations in blackjack that are generally accepted as the proper action to do based on the cards you and the dealer are dealt.

At this particular blackjack table on this particular night were two former Dallas Cowboy football players; Walt Garrison and Ed "Too Tall" Jones. Both Ed and Walt have been on Superbowl winning Cowboy teams. I was seated next to "Too Tall" as he was to the right of my chair and John was seated to my left. Walt is often seen on Skoal smokeless tobacco commercials as he says "just a pinch between your cheek and gum".

The casinos offer complimentary drinks to their casino patrons and John and I took up this offer while we were playing blackjack that night. It is common to watch the other players at the table and see the decisions they make with their cards as every card can determine the outcome of both the players and the dealer. "Too Tall", who is a solidly built 6'9" fellow, was making what I thought were poor decisions with his blackjack hands. I would say to him, "Why are you doing that for?; You should stay with that hand when the dealer is showing a 6" and other critiques of his blackjack style.

John was chuckling at my comments I made to "Too Tall ". Lucky for me we weren't on a football field; plus they don't allow tackling in the casino.