With the recent proliferation of poker blogs, it’s become chic to write about card playing exploits. I’m not too worried that it would be boring, but I don’t want to get into the minutiae of how I played different hands of cards. Right now, that feels like a tedious exercise in writing. I want to discuss experience rather than do a travelogue through different hands of cards.
I mention this because Danielle and I went to Buffalo last weekend, ostensibly to visit her parents for their anniversary and to go to a Blue Jays game in Toronto. The real reason was different. We had to gamble.
We played some cards, we threw down some money, most of us walked away with more than we began with, and we had a grand time. Even me, the big loser who left Casino Niagara down five Canadian dollars (approx. 38 cents American). I could delve into details about this hand or that hand, but that’s not necessary. My adventure is summed neatly into a three-hand stretch of Blackjack. I pulled a 20, a 19, and 20. I lost the first two hands and pushed on the third. That was my luck for the night. Two beats and a push.
The more interesting adventure for the evening, among too many tender adventures to recount, was me and my identification. Somehow, despite my 31 years, people assume I’m lying about my age, trying to sneak in to casinos and bars and R-rated movies. Ignore my driver’s license, credit cards, and passport, they’re right to card me. I’m faking it because I’m really a 12-year-old boy.
After we ate dinner, I walked to the security guard at Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, knowing that this wouldn’t be as easy as it should be. Looking back at my first college ID, I know what an 18-year-old me looks like. I do not look 18 anymore. (Remember, this is Canada. The legal age is 19.) Yet, a determined security guard will be a star, even when a preponderance of evidence disproves him.
As he scanned my passport, I knew I was in trouble. He gave the picture and date his best hairy eyeball, knowing that it had to be a fake. Hoping to avoid prolonging this nonsense longer, I offered that I have my driver’s license. Miraculously, the information matches on both. A shocking revelation, I realize, but I’m smart. He can’t trip me up. Except he does because he asks me to sign a piece of paper. There are no words on this paper, just two columns of boxes. As I sign it, I realize he’s going to verify my signature against my passport. I know I’m fucked because my signature has
changed evolved in the last six years. I envision not being let in and having to sit in the lobby while everyone else gambles the night away. Bastards.
“Can I see that driver’s license,” he asks. I don’t say that I offered it minutes ago as I hand it over. Because I’m frustrated, I don’t think to point out that all of the credit cards in my wallet have the same “new and improved” signature. I wait for him to understand his mistake and offer an apology. Hell, even a smile would suffice. I get the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny™ instead. He sticks my license under the scanner that somehow registers its authenticity. It passes. Isn’t technology sweet?
He unhooks the security rope that stands between me and Blackjack. His look says “I know you’re lying about your age but I can’t prove it. Know that I’m on to you.” I don’t hate him as I walk past, though I do wish he was smarter. Meanwhile, my IDENTICAL TWIN BROTHER is standing at the casino entrance, waiting for me because he skated through his security checkpoint with barely a glance. Damnit!
We don’t drop a single loonie on a table at Fallsview, but we are there long enough to see a very drunk guy win $2,500 at a slot machine. As the attendant paid out his winnings, he showed her a picture of his grandchildren and told her that they were “going to get new suits”. We can’t find a good table so we drive to Casino Niagara, which turned out to be a prosperous and fun move.
Going into Casino Niagara, I plan for the inevitable, but I start with my driver’s license instead of my passport. My brother and Danielle are in front of me, so I assume I should have no problem once he passes through. When I get to the front, the security guard verifies my driver’s license in the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny™, but I give her some slack and assume it’s because my license is from Virginia, not the more common New York that they see. I ignore the obvious argument that my brother just went through with the same birth date and Danielle has just walked through unscathed with a Virginia license that didn’t require the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny™. Details.
Since it was Saturday night, the minimum bet for each table was going up. We’d hoped to find a $10 table, knowing the $5 was too much to expect. There was one $10 table left on the non-smoking floor, but it was full. Even if spots had opened, it was full of people who didn’t know how to play so we wouldn’t have sat down. Since we wanted to gamble, we had to play a $15 table. We found one with three open seats, so my brother, me, and my friend sit down in seats 3, 5, and 6, respectively. I put my money on the table. Before Derek, our dealer, takes the money, he asks for my ID. Instantly, I think I should get annoyed, but I discover that I’m not. Maybe it’s because I know the coming experience won’t be as fun if I anger the dealer before I’ve seen a card, but I don’t believe that’s it; it’s exhaustion from the little game that casinos play with me. Three-and-a-half hours later, I got up from the table having had the most fun I’ve ever had while gambling.
Having been held to excessive scrutiny twice and getting through a normal check once, I learned something valuable: despite appearing 12-years-old to anyone looking to proof me, I’m an excellent document forger. I always pass the Blue Light Scan of Scrutiny™ when checked, but the adventure is the same.
Like I said, my luck was two beats and a push.