When Lady Luck calls, Pick up the phone!

Jan 15, 2002 6:54 AM

For years, winners in Las Vegas have claimed everything from special systems to scientific strategies to the paranormal to just plain dumb luck, for their good fortune.

Several card players are blacklisted from casinos for their card-counting abilities in blackjack. Special systems.

Others have written volumes of books about how they have won hundreds of thousands over the years with knowledge of the game in major Hold’em tournaments. Scientific strategies.

Some rub colored spots in tabloids and play the numbers they think of as they do it to win on Keno. Paranormal.

Public relations departments have repeatedly sent out releases saying the big winner hit on only the second pull at the slot machine or after putting in only three dollars! Dumb luck.

Now I know plenty about dumb luck. As the man used to say, if I didn’t havedumb luck I’d have no luck at all (or something like that).

For instance, at one of the local race books a few years ago I was with a few colleagues from GamingToday to catch the Belmont. While the other guys were checking out their tout sheets and racing forms, I looked at the board, and checked the horse’s name I liked the best that had the longest odds. The other guys were chortling that I would bet such a long shot across the board.

But, sure enough, Commendable came in. When I went up to cash my tickets, the other guys were in line, too. They had backed up their own bets with my choice, just in case I got lucky. Though they humorously said the selection was “commendable,” it was dumb luck ”¦ for all of us!

When the paranormal melds with dumb luck and you experience it yourself, you start to think about just how many of those “only in Las Vegas” stories are really true. With a little time gone by, I can now tell this story comfortably.

Over the years, whenever I had dinner with my folks out in their neck of the woods in Henderson, I’d play a 7-spot paper Keno ticket as we ate. Usually I’d end up peering at the board in the restaurant and watching as two or three of my seven numbers come up within the first three or four and then inevitably, my Keno “Cessna” would go into a tailspin and I wouldn’t catch another number.

My mom lost her 18-month battle with lung cancer on August 23 of 2001. Two days later when we buried her, Dad handed my brother and me, letters my Mom had written to us in 1991 and put into a safe deposit box only to be read after she was gone. In mine, she said she would send a sign so we’d know that she’d still be looking after us when she eventually left this world.

That night, August 25, my brother, niece, wife and I took Pop to dinner at a little casino near his home in Henderson. I purchased a $1 Keno ticket from the runner as we ate and said, “This one’s for Mom.”

We all held our breath when six of my numbers came up right away and then the plane started its descent. This time though, the nose of the craft pulled up just in the nick of time and the 20th and final number was “49,” filling out my 7-spot”¦to the tune of $14,000.

I don’t know if Lady Luck really was Mom in this case, though I believe she was. But, as my neighbor back in the 1970s, the late Joey Boston (a pretty well known guy in the casinos in the early days) once told me by the swimming pool: “If the ship ever comes in, don’t ask how or why ”¦ just get to the cage and take it in cash!”

And, another of those “only in Vegas” stories comes true. If you doubt it, check the Keno Room counter at the Eldorado in Henderson on which that ticket (and tribute to Mom) still sits, to entice others to play.

Oh, and as Joey directed, I took it all in cash!