Jack TenneyExtra Point

by Jack Tenney, Publisher

April 1999

Found money

Heres a 20-year-old story, I wrote 10 years ago. For the record, I'm still trying to win the lottery. Wish me luck!

Found money can be expensive.

I didn't really want to go but my colleague insisted. We were going to be several days in Philadelphia and Tom demanded that we whip over to Atlantic City and drain a casino.

This was shortly after gambling became legal in the New Jersey resort. What that translated to was too many players seeking too few tables.

Tom had no trouble losing a hundred bucks at roulette. I couldn't watch directly because only players were allowed close enough to the table to see, but I could read his body language from my vantage point behind a velvet rope. Like a golfer on the tee, he'd stand back a bit surveying the layout before quickly moving to tee up his bets. Then, taking his stance with feet open and knees slightly bent, he would lean forward and inhale deeply as he watched the croupier put the ball in play. Tom would then rotate his torso stiffly to his right until, with a too-quick left twist, he'd spin out, exhaling sharply, and slump back to look at his remaining chips. Six slump-to- slump cycles and it was all over for Tom. He was flexing his empty chip hand when he saw me.

Walking over he said, “Hey, big guy, how you doing?” (He was not inquiring about my health; he wanted to know how I was doing at the tables. Specifically, he wanted to know how much money I had lost.)

“Geez, I’ll never get a seat at a two-dollar table, why don't we just leave,” I whined.

He laughed, then cajoled, “C’mon, I got rid of the bad luck, guy. You gotta go get ’em.”

Around and around the casino floor we walked, and up and down the aisles. Regardless of stakes, there was no room in the din for a tight-fisted guy to just go get ’em. Finally, we spotted an empty chair at a blackjack table. Rushing over to it, I spied the plastic sign next to the dealer, “$25 MINIMUM.”

Wanting to get my obligation to Tom satisfied (I figured I had to risk some loot since he lost a hundred bucks), I placed a twenty and a five on the little box in front of the empty chair. Turning to Tom as the dealer changed my cash to chips and began dealing cards, I said, “Ill play a couple of hands and then were out of here.”

The dealer was showing a six and I had a seven and a four. “Double,” I said loudly and began emptying my pockets on the table. I had no trouble finding a ten, two fives and three singles but my face reddened as I counted out change to double my bet, “Twenty-four seventy-five, twenty four eighty-five, ninety-five, uuuh, ninety-six, ninety-seven ...”

The other players, chiefly tiny Oriental women with hundred dollar chips and long fingernails, stared wordlessly at me and clicked their chips.

For all that the dealer hit me with a deuce. Before I could even imitate Tom’s slump the other players hit, split and stood and the dealer busted. Busted!

Picking up a chip (leaving three or $75 as the next bet) I whispered to Tom, “I’m only willing to lose twenty-five.”

To make a long story short, I won and won and won and won and won and won seven straight winning hands with a variety of presses and pulls for a profit of $800.

With this extra (a.k.a. found) money, I bought a ride-on mower, had the pool painted, got some rugs, took a quick trip, bought a VCR, TV, and gas grill.

Other family members were more lavish. They bought couches, redid the kitchen, took some courses and got new patio stuff.

That was 10 years ago and I’m just getting it all paid off.

God help me if I win the lottery.