1. Poker – At most Air Force bases there are three clubs, one for enlisted men, one for non-commissioned officers (sergeants) and one for officers. Overseas, the clubs tend to be the hangout when off-duty. On paydays a unique sporting activity takes place: Payday Stakes Poker. After all of their obligations are taken care of, the gamblers will sit down with whatever money they have left for a game of wild and wooly poker. My favorite game was seven-card stud poker. For the non-gamblers amongst us: two cards dealt face down, four cards dealt face up with the seventh card face down. One hand that I will never forget started with me getting three hearts. During the remaining face up cards I got another heart and was looking at a heart flush or an outside straight. I was betting heavily. One person who was keeping up with me seemed to have a similar hand, only in diamonds. At the last card – lo and behold I had a straight flush to the ten. This is a once in a lifetime hand. In no time flat I had every cent I had every cent I had or could borrow in the pot. My opponent still stayed with me. A crowd had gathered around us and one could hear a pin drop. When we were both called I showed my straight flush to the ten – gasps. Then my opponent opened his hole card. He had a straight flush to the queen. I lost to a higher straight flush.
2. Roulette – The roulette wheel has the numbers one to thirty-six alternating red and black. In a European wheel there is a green zero. In an American wheel there is a green zero and double zero. There are many bets and combinations of bets possible. The green zero(es) give the house it’s edge. My favorite bet is “dozens.” There are six possible “dozens” bets. They pay 2-1. A green looses. If green does not fall I will break even in the long run with a good possibility of a winning streak. I figured this strategy out when Judy and I were on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico. I did pull ahead enough to finance our gambling for the remainder of the trip. A few years ago Judy and I took a short trip to Las Vegas. On the plane I reviewed the strategy with Judy. The odds of a green falling on an American table are long. I’ll take those odds any day of the week. We checked into our room, unpacked and we hit the tables. I walked over to the first roulette wheel I saw. I placed my bet on dozens. The wheel was spun and – Green. Ok that’s out of the way. Green again. I collected what was left of my money and had rotten luck for the rest of the trip.
3. Slots – When we moved back to Denver after three years in L.A. we were commuting from Orange County by way of John Wayne Airport. That trip mandated changing planes in Vegas. One trip I had about a twenty-minute layover in Vegas. I pulled a quarter out of my pocket. I dropped it into a slot machine. I pulled the handle. The machine gave me fifty cents back, twenty-five cents more than I put in. I hurried onto to my next flight. The moral of the story is that it is possible to leave Vegas winning.