Ambassador Harrock (harrock) wrote,
Ambassador Harrock

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Blackjack is fun...

Tonight, the entertainment at my conference was Casino Night. I went in fairly early, managed to avoid sitting through a product demo to get my chips, and then settled down at a blackjack table, noodling around with the smallest denomination chips, as is my wont, regardless of whether the chips are worth real money. I know the theory of counting, and it's fun to try in a lazy and ineffective sort of way, since I don't have sufficient concentration to do it well. That is apropos of nothing very interesting, except to explain why I find blackjack for worthless chips to be entertaining enough to spend a few hours on.

The dealer, a guy with a name tag of "Mr. Bill", who looks to be near retirement age, does this as a second job because it's fun. He's an Olde Tyme Card Counter, so in addition to the basic blackjack dealer service of telling you what you should do based on the board situation, he was also able to tell us what we should do if we'd been counting. He has many entertainment shticks suitable to this second job, or hobby, as it may be; he would engage us in random trivia questions (and give us free chips if we got them right), and chat about stuff. He also spent some time working in France, so has rusty but functional French with which to speak to some of the conventioneers who are French. And there were the kids of said conventioneers, who he entertained by theatrically tossing chips into their piles when they won, kind of slot-machine style, while trying to explain the game to them in their own language. Once, after a particularly discouraging hand where the players were drawing aces into the mid-teens, and then got beat by the dealer drawing to 21, he picked up all of the aces and shuffled them back into the shoe. When people busted out, he'd offer them some chips if they seemed to want to stay. Anyway, a great guy to have as your dealer at Casino Night.

Round about 10:30, the French and Germans had all busted out and left (I guess I was at the EU table or something...), leaving me as the only player, and he kept dealing as we got down to chatting about baseball trivia, because that was one of his favorite topics, and I can do a passable job, having been raised in that tradition. After just a few minutes of that, there was a little commotion at a nearby table, where some guy who had been partaking liberally of the cash bar had spilled his beer onto the table, soaking the felt, apparently in spite of repeated admonitions not to put his glass on the table. The guy who had spilled his drink was definitely more drunk than was reasonable. At one point, as people were trying to sop up the table and get him not to put his *second* (as yet un-spilled) glass back on the table, he told me he'd seen me at one of the sessions out of the corner of his eye, and briefly thought I was some ex-boss of his, and boy, was it a good thing that I wasn't. (Did he mean he'd like to run screaming from his ex-boss, or shoot him? I really don't want to know.) As an alternative to putting his second glass of beer down on the table, he chugged it, of course.

The next thing that happened was that that entire table came over to invade my table, since their table was ruined. They weren't hostile per se, though they did have that sort of forwardness or quasi-belligerence that is often hovering just beneath the surface of people who have had too much to drink. Needless to say, with a bunch of people talking at each other just a little too loudly, breaking up the flow of the game by not noticing that it was happening (but occasionally noticing it in a loud and disjointed way), and setting their full glasses of beer on the table in spite of repeated requests not to do so, the amiable chat was done with. As was inevitable, another beer got spilled in short order, shutting down that table as well.

I came back with some napkins, and also to thank Mr. Bill for an otherwise great evening, and to apologize on behalf of the network nerd community, and to tell him about the David Ortiz jersey that someone had emplaced in the concrete foundation of the new Yankee Stadium, which I'd just been getting into when we were rudely interrupted. I got the vibe that it might be nice if someone told the conference organizers about this (but that it wasn't really done for someone at his pay grade to do so). I recognized one of the bigshots, and went and told her what had happened, and there was at least some kind of dispatching people to go talk to people, and perhaps that led to at least some kind of basic apology to the folks who had to deal, which is not a vast thing, but probably more than they rated to get.

I realized later that I left out the salient point that the second beer was spilled by an employee of the company whose conference this is. This has the property of being a slightly bigger embarrassment, but also of pointing out an obvious solution to the tactical problem of how to steer your conference-goers to be less loutish, when the whole point of the conference is to pander to them to get them to buy your stuff. The answer is that their own employees, who are ubiquitous at the conference, can be told that part of their job is to keep things under control. So I will brush that thesis up and then send it to them as a follow-up.

If I run into that first beer-spilling guy again, I'm confident that the correct thing to do is just suppress my contempt while flushing him quietly from my presence, but it's pleasing to run through some alternatives in my head.

Other than that, I actually had quite a good time, thanks to Mr. Bill and his talent for helping everyone in sight have fun.

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