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Best of John Grochowski
Your first time30 June 2016
I’m a little fuzzy on the details. Marcy and I played slots and video poker together, and I played blackjack on my own, but I couldn’t say for sure whether it was the slots or video poker I played first.
Some readers have more detailed memories of their first time, and a few shared their stories:
LAMONT: First time, I went straight to the poker room. I figured poker with my frat brothers would have prepared me. Was I wrong! Playing in the poker room was NOTHING like playing with the guys. It was all so serious.
I like to take chances, and other players figured that out right away. I couldn’t get away with a single bluff. I lost a couple of hundred dollars in a hurry and got out of there before I could lose any more.
I figured out fast that I’m too open a book for those games. I play blackjack now, and play a little on the machines, too.
CALE: This goes back some time, almost 40 years. I’m mainly a craps player now. I love it. But back then I didn’t know the games at all.
I’d never played craps, blackjack, roulette – any of the games. But I came across a game called Red Dog, and that looked familiar. I’d played poker with the guys at home, and we played dealers choice. It wasn’t like now, when everybody wants to play Hold’em. Back then we played five-card draw, five-card stud, seven-card stud, a lot of crazy wild card games.
One of the games we played was in-between, or Acey-Deucey. There were two starter cards dealt, and you won if your card was between those two. So if the starters were a 6 and a 10, you won with 7, 8 or 9.
Red Dog was just like that, so I was in my element. On one hand, the cards were two 7s, and then I got a 7, too. That was an 11-1 payoff, so my $5 bet won $55. I didn’t have a lot of money, so that was exciting.
I had a great first time and wound up winning more than $150. Well, you know how that goes. I figured I’d found my spot, and Red Dog was going to line my pockets. I never had another winning session! I moved on to other games and settled into craps, and now I don’t think you can find Red Dog anywhere. It’s been years since I’ve seen it.
MATTIE: I knew exactly what I wanted to do the first time. I wanted to play blackjack.
My parents always had decks of cards around the house. We played War, Crazy 8s, spades, hearts – you name it. One of our friends knew how to play blackjack, and he taught us. At least he knew the rules. He didn’t teach us strategy or anything.
Strategy, I learned online. A few months before my 21st birthday, I knew I’d be celebrating at a casino. I wanted to be ready, so I found basic strategy charts and sites to play practice hands where it would tell me if I was making mistakes.
It was different playing in a casino, with everything going on. I had to show my ID a few times, when I bought in and when I ordered drinks. But I was comfortable with the game. I knew the strategy, and I did OK.
That was five years ago, and I’ve played lots of times since then. It’s always blackjack. That’s my game.
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