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Going to the dark side

Going to the dark side

John Grochowski

John Grochowski

A few months ago, I wrote about Kristy, who hates blackjack because of bullying by other players over strategy mistakes. A few weeks later, I relayed some reader responses.

Ted, an Ohio reader who has been playing in casinos for nearly 30 years, read all that and emailed to say one part gave him a chuckle.

“When she said craps players could be condescending but not mean-spirited, I thought, ‘You should try it my way,’” Ted said.

Ted’s way is to embrace the Dark Side.

“I bet don’t pass and don’t come, and lay the odds,” he said. “To me, the don’t is just another bet at the table, with slightly better odds than betting pass and come. Others seem to take it personally, at least sometimes.”

Sometimes?

“It’s not every time, to be sure,” Ted said. “It’s not most of the time. To be honest, a lot more often than not things are fine.

“I’ll have a lot of sessions where nobody says a word to me. That’s OK. I accept being the outsider when I make those bets.

“Other times, there’s some good-natured teasing. Someone will say, “Uh-oh, we have a don’t player here,” and if the shooter makes a couple of passes, maybe I’ll hear, ‘You backed the wrong horse,’ or ‘You might want to rethink your bets.’

“I laugh and go with the flow. I don’t tease back. I learned long ago that when I do, it comes off as having a chip on my shoulder, the one against the many, and all that.”

I told Ted that was only natural, given that if he was winning, it meant everybody else was losing.

“Sure, I can see that,” Ted said. “So I don’t outwardly celebrate or tease back. But I do have to grin and bear it when I lose and the rest of the table celebrates.”

What about the times that are not so convivial?

“To be super honest, this doesn’t happen very often. Like I said, the vast majority of times either nobody says anything or the teasing is good-natured.

“The ugly times really stick with me, though. Maybe there have been only a dozen of so of those, and spread out over 30 years, that might not seem like much.

“The first time really took my by surprise. I put my first bet down, and one guy said, ‘We don’t like your kind here.’ I guess I looked puzzled. He said to the rest of the table, ‘Look at that innocent look, and from someone who wants to feed off our misery.’

“It didn’t get any better from there. He gave me some variation of “in your face” every time he won. When I won, I’d hear, ‘Don’t you have any widows and children to go foreclose on?’

“The constant badgering got to me.”

Have there been any physical confrontations?

“No, no physical bullying,” Ted said. “The closest was this guy who kept trying to block me or bat my hand away when I tried to bet. A lot of people thought it was funny.

“I’ve been called ‘spawn of Satan, ‘filthy Dark Sider’ and other unmentionable names. One guy told me, ‘I hate you and everything you stand for.’

“Those times are not fun, but they are an extreme minority. I wouldn’t even mention it if Kristy hadn’t said ‘not mean-spirited.’ Most of the time she’s right. The other times … well, I wish players could understand that the dice decide who wins or loses regardless of whether someone else is on the other side.”

Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).

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