Sunday, September 30, 2007

A couple times a year my coworkers and I get together for an evening of... uh... team building. This usually consists of gambling and drinking. I'm not an expert in software methodologies or human relation dynamics, but I'm pretty sure this is a good way to build a software development team.

For the first few years of team building, we went to the Peppermill casino in Reno, which is one of the nicer casinos in Reno (which is not unlike being the fanciest trailer in the park.) One day, however, the Peppermill's Director of Casino Operations tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that I was no longer welcome at their blackjack tables. I had been spotted as a card counter. He said that I could stay at their hotel, eat at their restaurants, play other games, but I was banned from blackjack for life.

For life? Life? I could commit murder and get out of jail in a few decades, but win $50 through card counting and I'm banned FOR LIFE? It's insane. Hardly anything lasts for life. Sure, I'll be a dad for life, and assuming Hank doesn't dump my ass, I'm a husband for life too, but I'm supposed to believe that the third part of that temporal scale trifecta is blackjack banishment?

I followed up with the guy (as did my boss) via emails. We tried to convince him that despite my occasional tiny winnings, the Peppermill still profited from our team-building boondoggles, so it was not in their best interests to ban me from blackjack (for life!). They replied, suggesting that the rest of our team was welcome to play blackjack while I did other things. Since that basically amounted to a team-debuilding activity, we vowed never to return.

This was about 6 years ago. We've visited other casinos since then, but none of them quite measured up to our fond memories of the 'Mill.

Yesterday, however, I received this promotional letter in the mail from the Peppermill:

For those of you too lazy to click on the image, here are the salient points. It starts out by saying:

Dear Michael,

On behalf of the Peppermill, I would like to personally invite you to "Come Back Home" and stay with us, because quite frankly, we miss you!

You hear that? They invite me to come back because THEY MISS ME! I've never received such a sincere sounding letter even from my wife. It continued by saying:

Start your stay off with lots of luck by enjoying $100 in Peppermill FREE PLAY to play on your favorite games.

My favorite game? That would be BLACKJACK! Woo hoo! They closed out the letter with:

We look forward to your return, because we've missed you!

I'm misting up over here! I've missed you too, you banishing bastards!

I'm pretty sure this letter is a prime example of the right hand not knowing what the left hand kicks out of the casino, but it has been six years. I'm not public enemy number one. I'm just a really crappy card counter.

I'm really tempted. Maybe they'll kick me back out, but won't that make a great blog post?


Sue said...

Are you that brainy that you can actually count cards? You can hold that many pieces of info. in your head with out getting confused? Wow....

Mike said...

Nope, not even close. There are a bunch of card counting methods and I use one of the simplest ones. I just keep one number in my head and I add to it or subtract from it as cards go by. It's all I can handle given table conversation and those blasted free drinks.

newnorth said...

I don't really understand why you're not supposed to count cards. You're just using the information they are giving you and umm, thinking.
Now,I don't like to think but if others enjoy it...

Mike said...

Newnorth, yeah, it's pretty odd, but I guess the problem is that if you do it with a reasonable amount of competence (which I almost do), then the odds are in your favor. Casinos don't like that.