The Pass Line


A few weekends ago I ended up making that infamous pilgrimage that many So-Cal residents make several times a year…the “Vegas Bender”.  Although this time I was not planning on imbibing (as my  liver won’t allow for it because of the 20 something pills I take a day) and I didn’t really have the bankroll to gamble, but two of my close friends invited me to stay with them…they had two comped suites at Caesar’s Palace and room and board would be of no expense on my end.  Feeling the need for a trip I agreed.

Soon we were tearing down that asphalt dagger that cuts Death Valley in two, that torn shred of macadam known as the I-15…the sun was at our backs, two other carloads of mutual friends would meet us down later that night (8 total).  We were all buzzing as the film “The Hangover” had just come out a few days prior to our trip, since the movie takes place at “Caesar’s” we all went out to see it, by the time we got to the hotel the movie was #1 at the box office and the casino was already doing “Hangover” promotions, we couldn’t help taking on some of the character identities as we roamed the packed casino floor readying ourselves for check-in.

Friday night we took it easy, somewhat…then Saturday came.  Unknowingly I would have my first introduction to the game of chance known everywhere, whether played in back alleys in the slums, dice bouncing off cardboard boxes, or from behind velveteen ropes sporting raffish high rollers, as CRAPS.  The game with the best odds in the casino and as I would quickly learn the most camaraderie amongst players too!

We decided that Caesar’s was a bit too lavish for our style of play…we needed tables with smaller minimum bets, we walked across the street to the Imperial Palace, a tiny Casino that boasts single deck black jack and low minimums on all tables, also one of the last places you can get decent food deals…basically a seedy casino where people don’t bring their kids…they bring their wallets to do one of two things, usually both at the same time…gamble and drink.  The element surrounding us had the pathos of a penitentiary field trip, but we sidled up to a craps table anyway…I was just going to “watch”, learn the game…well that’s what I thought anyway…

I stayed close to my friend, observing his play when another bounded up to me, slapped $10 in chips in my hand (the minimum bet) and told me I was going to roll next.  I was stunned, I tried to hand the chips back to him as he walked away.  The table was surrounded not only by my 8 friends, but about 15 others, they were all staring at me.  The dealer pushed the dice in my direction with this “L” shaped stick of sorts.  I froze.  Screams and jeers echoed from the table.  Slowly I came to my senses, in a geriatric fashion selected a pair of dice, looked around and rolled….

THE DICE CLACKED TO LIFE….TIPTOED JAUNTILY ACROSS THE GREEN VELVET SEA…BOUNCED UP SLAPDASH OFF THE BREAKERS OF THE BACK HORESHOE SHAPED WALL…TUMBLED DOWN… TO…SEVEN (which is one of the two forbidden numbers you never speak of at the table I would learn, seven or eleven, it’s only good to get these on the first role, then everyone wins…and they did!)

The table came alive.  The rest is mainly a blurr for me…I was too enthralled to make any other bets, off that one $10 dollar pass line bet I made close to $100, that was over a half an hour later and without doing anything except continuing to roll, others at the table made hundreds (off $10 dollar bets mind you!)….strangers were hugging me, people were betting on me as a roller, I HAD THE HOT HAND.  Later my group would tell me it was the longest they’d ever seen someone stay on a “roll”, that it was like “an episode from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or something, just unreal…”.  One friend made a $5 dollar snake eyes bet and I hit it, that’s 30 to 1 odds, he made $150 on that single bet, he must have hit his “point” over a dozen times while I was at the table.  The group next to me was “playing the field” and must have hit 15 times in a row at least….people were making money and I was feeling great.  What an experience!  I walked away from the table, the praise ringing in my ears louder than the bells and whistles of the surrounding casino…then I began to wonder, why was I asked to roll in the first place?

I found out later that the mutual friend who had “sponsored and urged” my roll had been wanting to get me on a table all weekend, he could feel this “positivity” surrounding me like some sort of white light, his explanation to the others was something like this….”He just beat Cancer, he’s in top form, kid’s practically glowing…” (by the way that’s the same guy who hit the 30 to 1 bet).  I was taken aback…

I will forever look back on this experience and remember the warmth I felt at a CRAPS table of all places…I did beat CANCER and for one night the IMPERIAL PALACE too!  Have a great holiday weekend everyone, be safe, and KEEP THAT POSITIVE OUTLOOK ALIVE….777…11:11

And as always, thanks for reading!!



8 responses to “The Pass Line

  1. You always were one for beating the odds, my dear!

    “You did good, kid!”


  2. Claudia Tocci

    Good job, I’m with you I’ve never really understood craps. But it alway’s seems to be the loudest area in the casino.
    Love your writing, Stay well

  3. You have to teach me how to play craps someday. I always wanted to learn. I am so happy for you Jon. Janice too. We cannot wait to see you.

  4. Jonathan, you had me on the edge of my seat! Loved the story, loved the excitement! May lots of sevens, elevens and Good Luck remain with you!!!!!!!! xoxoox

  5. Aunt Debbie

    No matter what- you always come out a winner!
    First it was your baby heart, then your teen spleen, followed by cancer. You have won the ultimate CRAPS game!

  6. Hey buddy,

    I’ve always wanted to learn craps, sounds like you shook up that casino floor big time. I bet they had the “eyeball” camera on you and everything. Way to take those tables to the cleaners!

    So great reading your last two blogs, I can’t wait to see you. Hey Jon, I have a book that I know you will like…by one of my favorites, Tim O’Brien. Its called “In The Lake of the Woods” — I think you’ll enjoy it.

    I am trying to make it work to come up on Sunday for Nanny’s party. If you want to come to nyc, lemme know!


  7. Hi Jonathan,

    What a wonderful first time experience to have in Vegas…glad to hear you’re still beating the odds! Love reading your blogs – they’re great. We’re traveling x-country and are currently in Golden, CO staying at Clear Water Creek Camp Ground in lot #7 – there’s just something about those 7’s! Stay healthy, happy and safe and keep up your lucky charm!


    John & Joyce xox

  8. Well Pilgrim did you drive the Lotus to Vegas? She likes the open road it lets her breath a little. Nice story, you should be a writer. Love Duke:)

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