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Gambling card game crossword

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Kenneth Uston spent a recent steaming Sunday afternoon beside the pool at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, seemingly fooling around with a deck of playing cards. He shuffled them over and over, then ran through the deck card by card, muttering to himself. There's a system for beating the system at blackjack, but, as its leading exponent has discovered, it can make life difficult.

With his curly black beard and melancholy dark eyes, he had the look of a Byronic poet. His companion, a slim and comely young woman from San Diego, was eager to go downstairs and dine, but Uston begged for another moment or two. Again he picked up the deck of cards, sat down on the sybaritic circular bed beneath an oval ceiling mirror had he so desired, he could have rolled out of bed and directly into an enormous sunken marble tub, also with ceiling mirror and ran through the cards another dozen times, his monotonous recitative as dry as a computer.

Now he was ready to begin the evening's labor. Downstairs, at the edge of the casino, Uston paused, his eyes sweeping across the kaleidoscopic carnival. He frowned at the battalions of middleaged men and women dutifully pulling the handles of slot machines.

The man shrugged. One useful tip to slot enthusiasts: The casinos normally place their highest paying machines just at the entrance to the hotel, near the registration desk, so that patrons will be lured by noisy payoffs to play them while they are waiting for their rooms.

The percentage is fixed so that, over the long run, the house will keep up to 20 cents of every dollar fed into the fruit compotes of cherries, plums and, all too often, lemons. Nor does Uston consider craps anything but reasonably brisk way of losing money. But the game would still bore me. There's no mental challenge. As he passed the keno lounge, he actually shuddered.

Roulette is a ridiculous game, anyway. You might as well bet on whether the sun will shine tomorrow, or whether it will rain.

But then Uston approached the blackjack tables, 39 of them crowding the floor at Caesar's. Now little ripple of anticipation passed through him. In the past few years, blackjack has become the most popular American casino gambling game.

Several Vegas hotels have recently closed their lounge entertainment areas in order to put in more blackjack tables. Craps used to be the dominant game in Las Vegas; now dice tables often stand empty when it is impossible to get a seat at blackjack. At some 75 percent of the casino blackjack tables the game is now played with four decks cards—to make it more difficult for men and women like Kenneth Uston to apply what they have rehearsed.

He is one of the best players the world, and the most controversial. It was at one of these that Ken Uston sat down casually. The money was spread out, like a fan, and counted.

Hardly had the new player settled in before number of things occurred. The dealer, noting Us. Instantly, the small, agile, graying man in navy blue blazer danced over to Uston's table and began drilling his eyes at the game.

He clapped his hands vigorously, in apparent signal to someone. A certain tenseness set in. For a fraction of a second, the lights directly over Uston's table dimmed, as in a modest power failure. His assumption, as he received his first two cards—a five and a seven—was that he was being filmed. He was, after all, an at the gates. Kenneth Uston is one of a small but growing number of people who have brought about a major flap in Nevada's principal industry, gambling.

Somewhere between 50 and people, perhaps more—they like to keep their identities secret—have become so skilled at blackjack that they win large sums of money. What his own winnings have been he prefers to keep secret. The casinos don't like it. Robinson muscle literally throwing card counters out the front door into the street to harassment escorting them into a back room for an hour of sharp questioning and veiled threats to outright banning from the premises.

Uston has so infuriated several Vegas and Reno casinos that he is not only persona non grata, he has been threatened with arrest for trespassing if he so much as strolls across the threshhold for a cup of coffee. Uston's response has been to file a barrage of law suits contending that he has been humiliated, disgraced in public and caused to suffer mental anguish, and has had his civil rights violated.

He argues that the Nevada hotels are public accommodations that advertise far and wide, and as such have no more right to ban him than they would have a right to ban a black or a Jew on the basis of race or religion.

He has more suits in the hopper. These suits join others filed by Uston's colleagues in card counting. Supreme Court if necessary. Lest any of this create the impression that there's something wrong with card counting, there isn't. There are hundreds of card counters, and they are a big help to our business. We couldn't throw them all out, nor would we want to.

However, we have the privilege to refuse gambling privileges to people whom we consider disruptive. And the advantage pays our overhead if we lose it, we won't be here. It takes two to tango, and if the house won't make its bet against a player, then there's no game.

Nevada Revised Statute Indeed, it is difficult to squeeze out a tear for Nevada's gambling industry. At least three major new hotels are going up, and others are on the drawing boards. Caesar's Palace is one of the few Las Vegas hotels that will admit Kenneth Uston, partly because he has not yet hit this house for a major win, partly because they watch him closer than a coiled rattlesnake, partly because there is a considerable amount of hubris at play.

Rip Davis, one of the pit bosses, almost cavalierly. Besides, in the long run, the house overcomes them all. Time is on our side. His background was so impeccable that it would have seemed a safe bet that he would one day wind up as an Under Secretary of the Treasury.

The son of a Yale professor, he attended Hopkins Grammar School, was Phi Beta Kappa at Yale in economics, took his master's degree at the Harvard Business School, and set out to make his mark in the world of computers and sophisticated finance. Also within him was a secret urge to be a jazz piano player—he helped pay his way through Harvard by playing at various Boston dives—but this he put aside.

His franchise was statistics, making economic forecasts, predicting population mobility—a world of numerical curves and infinite progressions. But disenchantment set in after Uston worked for more than a year on a major project. His assignment was to analyze the telephone company's intricate network of wiring between the business offices in Connecticut. He was supposed to find out through mathematical deduction if some of the networks could be reduced and some of the business offices eliminated, while sustaining optimum customer service and anticipating future needs.

There, it was applauded, but back home in Connecticut the telephone company rejected the recommendations. The official explanation was that since the report suggested elimination of several of the phone company's business offices, the organization feared a community backlash.

Uston was devastated. He quit and sent out resumds. California was his goal. There he would probably still be today had it not been for a mild malaise, a necessity each morning upon rising to swallow an attack of impending boredom. At a dinner party in , Uston met a friend of a friend who was a professional gambler, a card counter barred from most Nevada casinos.

As he explained the strategy, Uston was fascinated. And the mathematical challenge was there. Uston reread the book and found others like it. He took a little of this and a little of that and ran several thousand combinations of hands through a computer at Stanford. Then he trained intensively for a month, carrying a deck of cards in his suit coat pocket at the stock exchange, practicing his card counting at every opportunity, even in his car waiting for red lights. Now he was ready for Mecca.

When he sat down at a blackjack table to gamble, he felt waves of paranoia. If pit boss gave me a second look, I wanted to bolt out the door, grab my sock and get back to the Dow Jones averages. During the next several weeks, his fever rising, Uston returned regularly to Vegas. He learned to separate the money he gambled from the money he needed to run his life—pay the rent, the alimony, etc.

He was now divorced and living in a penthouse on Russian Hill in San Francisco. He even learned to stop referring to his gambling money as money. He found himself winning, on occasion, as much units hour. There were the down sides, to be sure.

He left the table and went outside, perspiring, anxious, fearing he had lost his technique. The next day he recouped the balance, and a few units more.

He developed small ruses to persuade casino dealers and pit bosses that he was just another player, not a walking computer. When the house offered him a free drink, he happily ordered a double dry martini. When it arrived, he feigned a sip or two, then went to the men's room carrying the glass with him. There he threw it down the drain, refilled it with water and returned to the table, where he drank lustily, hoping the bosses would dismiss him as a careless drunk. In his hotel room, he kept a book on blackjack filled with deliberately foolish and fallacious theories.

Uston was careful not to make this mistake very often. His system is not calculated to make an enormous killing in a night of play. Rather, it is a slow process, a wearying exercise of eking out a small percentage over the house His expertise gives him a 2 percent advantage over the house, whereas the normal player loses money at a percent disadvantage.

Understandably, Uston is unwilling to disclose many details of his method of play, which varies depending on whether he is in Las Vegas, Reno, Monte Carlo or the Caribbean. House rules are different even in casinos that stand side by side in Las Vegas.

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