Sucker Bet
My career in gambling began in childhood when my father taught my sib-
lings and me to play
Gathered around the kitchen table, we would
bet with anything, usually pennies or matches, though the clearest evidence
of who among the six of us had inherited his gambling instinct and who had
not was the degree to which we cared what we won or lost. The nongamblers
by nature always tended their piles of pennies protectively; my dad and I, not
so much. For us, the focus was always the cards, the rhythm of play, hand to
hand, as my father’s steady chatter called the game. “Pair of Jacks,” he would
say as he dealt seven- card stud, “six and eight, possible straight,” or, worse,
“ten and two, nothing happening.” I can’t remember if I was any good, only
that I could have played forever. Actually, that’s not true. I can remember.
Yet in my first three research trips to Las Vegas, I never gambled more than
$20 at any one time and that only on slots, and even those little adventures
could not have added up to more than $100 total. In fact, in the research for
this book, none of us spent any significant time actually gambling, as op-
* Jane Kuenz
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