No matter how much — or how little — preparation you do, unexpected things happen when you play casino games.
For a couple of readers who relayed their stories via email, trying games for the first time brought some embarrassment to go with the learning experience.
CONNOR: My dad had old books on blackjack. I pretty much memorized them forward and backward. I knew the plays to make and I knew when to make them. I knew how to count cards and I knew when to raise and lower my bets.
What I didn't know was the reality of blackjack in a casino. My dad's books were old, like I say, and they all talked about blackjack as if it was dealt from one deck. This was well before the Internet, so there was no such thing as going online and practicing or even looking up rules and conditions at casinos. What practice I did was dealing a single deck to myself.
I got to the casino, and every table had six decks shuffled together.
I asked a dealer where the one-deck games were, and he said they didn't have any. Then I blurted out, "How do you expect me to keep count with six decks?"
I knew I'd goofed as soon as I said it. The dealer yelled to a supervisor, "Hey, this guy wants to know how we expect him to count six decks."
The supervisor walked over and said. "We don't."
Leaving was my walk of shame. I can't believe I said that.
TRISH: I'd played slots for a few years and I was used to being in casinos, but had never played tables.
I was curious. So I stopped and watched a craps table for a little bit. There were only four players, and one of them called out, "Come join us. We won't bite."
I said I wouldn't know how to begin, and he said they'd teach me.
Maybe because it was slow, the dealers were patient. They let me come right up to the table without betting at first.
I watched long enough to see a pass bet lose and another one win. Then I said I was ready. I bought in and bet on pass. The point turned out to be 8, so I placed 6. I won the 6 twice then I won pass. Great start!
After that, it was hit and miss, but I was still up a little bit when suddenly the stickman pushed the dice to me. My teacher said, "Are you ready for this?" I said, "I think so."
I picked two dice and with money on the pass line, I told myself, "You have to hit the back wall. You have to hit the back wall."
I didn't hit the back wall. I didn't hit anything except the next table. Far too much adrenaline. One of the other players said, "The lady doesn't know her own strength."
I was seriously red-faced. I don't know about beet red. I'm not sure beets get as red as my face. But I kept at it and kept the next roll on the table. I actually made a couple of points and won a couple of place bets, and everybody made money on my roll.
That was enough, though. When I sevened out, I said, "Thanks guys, but that's enough for one lesson." A dealer said, "She'll be back," and my teacher added, "Anytime, ma'am."
They were right. Craps is one of my regular games now. But that first time was an adventure.
Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).