“What have I done?” Samantha leaned away from the slot machine. She had her last twenty dollar bill clutched tightly in her right hand. “Stupid Samantha. Real. Stupid.”
She slipped from the stool and took a step back from the slot machine. “Fourteen hundred dollars. Gone.” She looked at the twenty in her hand. That is all that was left. The money was gone. She had travelled all the way to Las Vegas to save the house. Her life savings was gone and now so was the house. Sam was ill about it. She turned from the slot machine that had so gluttonously eaten all of her money and headed over to the bar.
When she reached the bar the bartender was standing there waiting for her. “What can I get for you ma’am?” he asked.
Fifty thousand dollars, she thought. “A rye and ginger, please.” She said. She slipped onto the stool as the bartender pulled a glass from the shelf behind him and sat it down in front of her. First the rye was poured and then the ginger ale. He slid the glass towards her and she handed him her last twenty dollar bill.
Now she down to just thirteen fifty. She took a mouthful of her rye and ginger. It was nowhere near strong enough for her sorrow’s to drown in. Another mouthful then a third. With the glass empty she pushes it out of her reach.
“Experiencing a bit of a loosing streak?” The man’s voice surprised her. She didn’t remember anyone sitting at this end of the bar when she sat down. After a moment she turned her head just enough to see a young man in his late twenties standing next to her. He wore a finely pressed, middle-class business suit and his haircut seemed to be a little dated.
“Now there’s an understatement.” She said.
“That’s too bad. But it’s Vegas, it’s not totally unexpected.” He said with a smile. It was a friendly, familiar smile. “I’m Daniel.”
“My father’s name was Daniel.” Samantha said.
“Oh yeah? I like him already.”
She sits up and introduced herself.
“What brings you to Vegas, Samantha?” Daniel asks. “Vacation?”
“No.” She said. Her change still laid on the bar. “I need to raise the money to buy back my grandmother’s house.” Samantha said. “It was the only house my grandmother ever knew. My father grew up in that house. I grew up in that house.” Samantha wiped away a tear that had rolled halfway down her cheek. She told Daniel how her grandmother raised her since she was a baby after her parents died. “Last summer she was forced to re-mortgage the house when her insurance refused to cover her cancer treatments. Now that she’s gone that house is the only connection I have to my family and the bank is going to foreclose next month.”
“I so sorry for the losses in your life Samantha.” Daniel said. “How much do you owe?” he asked.
“Fifty thousand dollars. I arrived with fourteen hundred and now all I have left is…” she looked down on the change still on the bar. “Thirteen dollars and fifty-three cents.”
“It’s not much to work with.” He said. “What were you playing?”
Daniel shook his head. “And that’s why you only have thirteen dollars left Sammie. You need to play the tables. Blackjack.”
“I don’t know how to play blackjack.” She said.
“It’s easy. Come on.” Daniel walked past Samantha. He stopped for a moment to see if she was coming. “What do you have to loose?”
“Thirteen dollars and fifty-three cents.” Samantha scooped up the money from the bar and follows Daniel across the casino floor. She listened carefully as he quickly told her the rules of the game.
“Just remember. Hit on 16 or less. Otherwise stay.” He said when as he finished explaining the rules to her.
“Stay. Hit.” She muttered as they walk into the table section of the casino looking for a table with a ten dollar minimum. Daniel was right. She had nothing to loose. She had already lost so much, what value did that last thirteen bucks how. She found a seat at a table sitting directly across from the dealer, a woman who looked older than her 40 years would suggest. The name tag on her vest labeled her as Julie.
Samantha followed Daniel’s instruction and slid the thirteen dollars across the bet line. Julie slipped the money into a slot on the table. “Changing thirteen dollars.” She announced sliding a very small stack of chips in front of Samantha. “Good luck ma’am.”
Daniel stood quietly behind Sam. This had to be her bet with no pressure from him. He watched as Samantha placed all of her chips on the betting line. She was starting with an all or nothing bet.
Julie flung the cards face up to each of the six players seated at the table. Sam’s first card was the jack of hearts. A second card was given to each player and the card laying in front of Samantha was the ace of clubs.
“Blackjack!” Daniel shouted. “A wonderful start.”
Samantha smiles as her thirteen dollars became thirty two fifty. Keeping ten dollars aside Samantha sets twenty dollars worth of chis onto the betting ring. Standing with a 17, Sam held her breath as Julie drew a eight to bust the dealer’s hand. A second pair of chips was slid into place next to the first two chips. “I wish I had sat here instead of the slot machines.” She said. Another ten dollar chip was set aside while her she left the other three chips on the table. Three chips quickly became six chips and then six became twelve.
“You didn’t set any aside with that last hand. I suggest you keep putting money aside in case.” Daniel whispered into her ear.
Sam followed his suggestion and only put twenty dollars on the line. It was a good thing, Julie’s hand beat Samantha’s hand by only one. Her two chips were buried amongst the stacks in front of the dealer. She took a moment and counted the number of chips she had sat aside. “One hundred and twenty dollars.” She said. She placed it all on the betting line.
“What are you doing?” Daniel said.
“Gambling.” She said. Playing cards were flung around the table. Samantha’s first card was a queen of diamonds. Julie swung through the players a second time. She couldn’t hold back her excitement when the ace of spades was dropped in front her. “Blackjack!” she shouted. “Oh. Sorry.” She muttered, slightly embarrassed. In the matter of just thirty minutes Samantha’s original thirteen dollars was now three hundred and twenty-five dollars.
With some careful betting it took Samantha another two and a half hours to get her pile of chips up past twelve thousand dollars. In that time she had attracted an audience. Behind Daniel a group of people had gathered, while behind Julie one of the pit bosses, a named Neville had taken an interest in the game.
“I can’t believe this.” She said. Her excitement was growing more and more with each hand. Daniel wore a smile across his face. “You’re doing very well Sammie. Keep it up.”
Samantha pushed the entire twelve thousand onto the betting ring. Neville watched Julie carefully as she dealt out the cards. Sam’s first card was a three of hearts. The crowd behind Samantha moaned in a single voice. The second card was the four of clubs. The moans became silent and many of the audience turned and walked away, knowing how this hand was going to end.
Watching the first three players complete their hands, Samantha noticed her’s was the worst hand on the table. The dealer was showing the nine of hearts. Each of the first three players bust trying to beat the Julie’s possible 20. Samantha sat silent as Julie got to her. Samantha, like the first three, had to aim high. “Hit me.”
Julie flipped over the seven of hearts. Samantha did the math in her head. Daniel was holding his breath. A fourteen was far too low to beat Julie’s hand. “Another hit please, Julie.” The fourth card placed face up in front of Samantha was the six of diamonds. “I’ll stay at twenty. Thank you.” Samantha said calmly. It wasn’t over yet. The audience remaining was silent. Neville continued watching the table carefully. The other players ended their hands with a bust each. It was just Samantha against Julie. The second dealer card was flipped over and Samantha was pleased to see the three of clubs. Pulling a third card from the shoe Julie flipped it showing another three. Samantha counted the fifteen twice before Julie flipped the fourth card. A queen.
“Dealer’s bust.” Daniel yelled as the crowd shouted in excitement.
Samantha’s winnings now topped twenty-four thousand dollars. She was amazed. Neville leaned over to Julie and relieved the woman. The pit boss cleaned the cards from the table and prepared for the next hand. Samantha leaned towards Daniel. “What do you think? All or nothing?”
Sammie, that’s not a choice I can make for you.” He said.
“Place your bets.” Neville said. “Ma’am?”
Without a second thought Samantha pushed her entire pile of chips across the bet line. Neville started to deal out the cards. She couldn’t watch. She closed her eyes tightly. The cheering audience told her that her first card was good.
Daniel whispered in Samantha’s ear. “Well Sammie, it’s time for me to get going. Your mother and I are very proud for what you did for your grandmother. She thanks you with all of her heart.”
Samantha’s eyes snapped open. She spun around on her stool. The audience watched the table intently as Neville prepared to flip over Samantha’s second card. Daniel was gone. Samantha couldn’t see him anywhere.
“Daddy?” she whispered.
The audience erupted!