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March 2000 Columns
xmag.com : March 2000 : Girl Trouble

Girl Trouble - a monthly column by Rex Breathes

She was the first option on offense and the last line of defense. She played both ways, on either side of the ball. Played all four quarters and never sat down. Basketball player, no. But a player, yes. A dealer. She's a wooden faced executioner of your fortune lost, or a smile from here to Gary, Indiana when you win. Hit, stand, split, double down, she doesn't care any more than the desert gives a dry fuck if you spit on a rock. She's a single deck Queen of Pain or Gain black jack dealer at the fabulous Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Call her Alicia. Blue eyes deeper than the Fat Cat's pockets who's there on the Casino's nickel--champagne, caviar and call girls; everything's comped because he usually hemorrhages cash to Alicia. They set it up, soon as he arrives--single deck game out in the regular black jack pit, open for all to see. But it's his table, his dealer and no one else can sit down. You gotta love the way Alicia flips the cards, shooting from her slender, purple vested waist. White tux shirt, purple and black bow tie, lips redder than sin glisten with all the shiny paint he wants to see on the next card topping his ace. Damn. She tosses him a seven. Soft 18. Dealer up card's 10. Real man has to take a hit, here.

Artwork by Dodger ©2000

"What do you think I should do, sweetness?" he asks her anyway.

"You're the boss," she smiles.

She's already checked her hole card. He insists the dealer plays him without the "No Peak" electronic system for checking the dealer's hole. He wants her lifting the cards up off the table. Not a game left where the dealer checks their hole the old fashioned way. Back then, the dealer could tip the player: quick peak for a paint card, long look for a little card. Fat Cat thinks he's got Alicia figured out. She took a long gander at her tight, inch off the table hole, and he's guessing she's got a little card--hoping she's stiff as a board, six, means 16, underneath. Brimming with bravado, he tucks his soft 18 up under his four black chips, $4,000.

"I'll stand, darlin'."

Alicia has to bite her ripe lower lip to hold back her smile as she flops a 10. Twenty. Picks up his bet in her right hand, collects his cards with her left, in one smooth, swift motion like a hawk swooping in on its prey. Sucks up her cards last.

"Sorry, Brad." They've been playing their game for years, so, she's earned the right to call him by his first name and engage in conversation whenever she feels like it. Especially when she knew her long look would make him think little, when she had big. Shuffling up. Cards flat on the table. Red nails bring the corners together. Swoosh. Swoosh. Five quick shuffles. Offers the deck for Brad to cut. Deep. She gathers up the halves, right to left. Burns one. Ace.

"Ouch," Brad says. He's back down to a thousand, his base bet, on this hand.

Single deck black jack dealing is a lost art form she carries into the new perversion of corporate casinos and "No Peak" nonsense like a goddess-warrior-princess-poet. Firing the cards out from her slight waist, skidding over his chips and sliding right into his sweaty hand every time, it's better than sex the way she plays him. Her long brown hair pulled back in a thick pony tail, offers an open face that you'd never think could lie or be so sly. What secrets underneath. She wears a shiny black waist cincher under her shirt and vest. Keeps her posture perfect. And gives her the sharp lines she likes. Her hips fit into her torso like the corners of the cards coming together when she shuffles Brad's brain, up or down. Sometimes their game makes her wet. A push three times in a row on 20 and then, wham. Black jack. Ace in her tight hole. Just as he's about to double down on 11. She picks up his $5,000 and watches the air leak out of him. He used to win, had a reputation that he could count cards. He used to walk from the table with a wad of licorice candy colored chips; sometimes he'd dump it all back at the craps or roulette table. Going for the casino's jugular. They were on the verge of banning him, the Flamingo was. Too dicey to count on him giving it all back to the craps table on the way to the cage.

Then came Alicia. She could count, too. And she discovered he wasn't counting at all. Oh, he had a system, all right. And she figured it out.

"Reverse d'Alambert," she told the pit boss. "He simply increases his bet after each win, goes back to his base bet after a loss. But he plays variations on that. When he's betting with the count in his favor, it's by accidental design. Still, it's a system, and any system can catch a wave of good cards."

In the past he'd play it close, chopping back and forth. Patient play. Solid play. Good basic strategy. Catch his wave. Walk.

"I know how to keep him at the table after he's had his run of fortune. Keep him playing till he dumps it all back and then some," she told the pit boss. And so her game started with Brad. It's been going on for over five years now. About three or four times a year he flies in from San Francisco where he heads up a leading ad agency. The casino insists he gives them a one week notice.

"We want to have everything right for you, just the way you like it," they tell him. But mostly it's so Alicia can get ready. Beauty treatments, spas, martial arts, strict diet, meditation, she prepares for their game like she's going into battle.

Over the years, Brad's only won a handful of times, the last time back in '98, but he keeps coming back. Alicia spends a week flipping cards from her waist at bottles on an empty layout till she can talk, sing, laugh or look him dead in the eye while she does it and never miss. It's a game she doesn't intend to lose. In Las Vegas, their duel is legendary. Some time after Alicia and Brad start playing on their private table, the casino has to rope it off to keep the excited gallery at bay. Everyone taking sides. You'd think that most would be rooting for Brad, the player, going up against the best dealer the house can throw at him. But she's so good, effortless, sweet, shy, bold, sly, that half the crowd is cheering for her just as loud.

He usually starts out with $50,000. They've gone all night, taking breaks as needed, riding his 50K until she breaks him down. Pit boss says it's like watching them have sex. The only intercourse they'll ever have: cards and chips sliding back and forth over smooth, effortless green felt. And he keeps coming back because he wants/needs what he will never have: to fuck her for real. Or, to fuck the casino by taking down a 100 thousand plus in winnings--cashier check in black ink barely dry.

But Alicia's not gonna let that happen. She sucks in her hard stomach under her vest, her cincher, her armor. Fires two more cards skating over his stack of five black chips. Black as the ace of spades she's got showing.

"Insurance?" she says with her usual smile. He rarely takes it. Which is the smart play. As the gallery holds their collective breath, she can feel the paint under her ace before her fingernails ever touch the cards. Plus six, by her count. He's got 20 and by accidental design, he's betting the count. She flops the Queen of Hearts. Another tough beat; but he never does anything so rude or crude as throw his cards at her--Alicia, his Queen of Hearts. They play on. Count is down to plus two. They've been going at each other for two hours straight without a break. He's only down about 10 grand. It's going to be a long night. No matter. She feels the familiar dampness between her thighs.

He crosses things up by increasing his bet to $10,000 after his loss. Getting impatient. Good. Now she's got him where she wants him: hungry, frustrated, losing his head. She stares him straight in the eye as she fires from her waist, cards settling under his fingertips whispering, "I love you." He's got 11. Her up card's six. No brainer double down. Again, she can feel the paint under her six. Stiff. Maybe he'll fuck her on this hand. Another stack of 10 next to his first makes $20,000 waiting on one card. She drops a beautiful 10 on him, king of clubs, and smiles from here to Gary, Indiana. Turns over her 10. Sixteen. Draws six. Busted.

"Yes!" he screams in unison with the gallery cheering around them. She pays and picks. Special gold ten thousand dollar chips.

"I think I wanna break," he says. He's up about 10 thousand.

"Oh, come on. It's just getting fun. And look at the crowd we've got tonight, Brad." Her eyes, moist and blue, open and close on his name, slowly, like they've just made love.

"All right. But we play all the way down. Don't shuffle up till you run out of cards."

"Have it your way, Brad." Count is plus four. Maybe she should have let him go. But this is her table. And she hasn't met the mountain that can move her out of the pit. Wide stance, shoulders back and square, nostrils flare. She deals.

Girl Trouble

Dec. 99

Nov. 99
Oct. 99
Aug. 99

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