Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shuffle up and deal

Among my foibles is a predilection for black jack, the card game, not the anise-flavored candy, and over the top of the hill, down 35th Avenue and two turns away, next door to a Safeway and across the street from a chiropractic clinic, there is a casino.

It calls to me, some days louder than others, but so far I have resisted the urge to splurge on a hand or two. I would like to believe that is because I have a will of iron, but I suspect it has more to do with appearances.

Casinos are supposed to be big and glitzy; high-rise buildings, decorated in alarming colors and textures and sporting lots of neon. There are twenty-six facilities just like that on native American land scattered around the state.

This place looks like a bowling alley in need of repairs.

Oh, sure, the sign outside says casino, but the Washington legislature agrees with me; state law says it is really a card room, the sort of place my mother used to warn me about.

According to the American Casino Guide, "Card rooms have been legal in Washington since 1974. Initially limited to just five tables per location [and table stakes only]. The law was changed in 1996 to allow up to fifteen tables. One year later, a provision was added to allow house-banked games."

"House-banked games" mean that the players bet against the management, not other players, when they play games such as blackjack, Pai Gow poker or Texas hold-em. Baccarat, craps, roulette and keno are not allowed, because, here's the logic, they are games of pure chance; card games involve player skill.

I told Rachael that, a year ago this past February, when we were in Las Vegas. She didn't buy it; she was there for the shows and the chance to see Hoover Dam before it is closed off to tourist traffic. Gambling of any kind, she said, was for suckers. I found my way to a black jack table, anyway.

But that was sixteen months ago, and it has been almost ten months since I last sat at the green felt in Florida. The casino/card room up over the hill calls, louder and louder; I may pay it a visit some day soon.

Even if it does look like a place my mother told me good girls don't frequent.