I’m not sure when closed-circuit cameras were first placed in Vegas casinos, but every casino film since “Ocean’s Eleven” has had a obligatory reminder of that giant eye in the sky that hovers over all the action at every table; every toss of the dice, every spin of the wheel, every shuffle of the blackjack shoe.
The cameras do a variety of other things now, such as look for pickpockets and misbehavior. But at one time they had one primary purpose:
To catch card counters.
You see, a card counter is the one thing the House can’t beat honestly. The house has a percentage advantage at every game they host. (That’s why they call it a business.) At roulette it’s the zero or double zero. In Craps, it’s 2 – 3 or 12 (craps) coming out and that inglorious whore, 7, who will give you three straight easy passes, then break your heart as you try to make an easy 6 after you’ve backed up every bet on the table.
Black jack is the only table card game the House plays, and it was the one where a really good and observant card counter could shave that House edge.
Over the past 30 years, card counting has been neutralized by changing the dealer’s shoe from one deck, then two, and now four or more, which makes it almost impossible for the photographic card counter to know how many Aces might be left in the deck.
But in stud poker (much more than Hold ’em) card counting is a window to the other players’ souls. And that’s important in politics, as you will see.
Card counting is not part of the romance of poker fiction. Mostly it isn’t sexy or visually dramatic. All the great poker films centered facial giveaways, or maybe a drumming of the fingers, as the key to how to beat the other guy across the table. The hero could study the other guy for some giveaway, Bart Maverick, Matt Damon, or James Bond, and then he’d know the other guy’s weaknesses. For the movie audience this is easier to understand, while math generally isn’t. It has drama. Card counting doesn’t.
But as Ernst Blofeld showed us in the recent James Bond film that was filmed at various casinos in California, “Casino Royale,” and as E Street hookers have been proving since 1858, even tics and facial giveaways can be faked to confuse the other guy.
But the cards never lie. In seven-stud, my favorite, you can look into the soul of every player at the table…if you only pay attention.
You just have to remember a few rules. First, the cards tell you just as much when you’re out of a hand, as when you’re in. So having skin in the game is not a prerequisite to being a great card counter.
Let’s say you’re dealt junk and you fold on the first bet. Or you get king’s down, Either way you watch, and even snigger a little to yourself as you watch a fellow trying to draw to third king never knowing they’re already out. Everyone at the table knows where two cards are that no one knows.
The cards rule, and the best you can know are the odds. What the card counter wants to know is who’s likely bluffing, who can be bluffed, but even more importantly, who’s the most likely to fold a winning hand.
On a given evening you will see this happen 2-3 times, and if a regular game, over the year, that person will be the big loser, looking for the trusted bookies to bet on sports this time.
Someone’s got to rake in the pile and someone’s got to lose every hand. That’s the game. The politics of the game. Card counting takes the profiling of players to a whole new level.
As you can guess, in cards, life and politics, this is the most important knowledge one can have.
I’m sure you were wondering when I’d get to this.
For years, I’ve been sure the Democrat Party has had on retainer some very high class card counters who have been able to look into (profile) every Republican who, not just today, or next week, but ten years from now, may do them harm.
As we’ve moaned about for years, they spend millions every year trying to exploit a weakness (disease, if you will) we haven’t even spent enough research dollars to know exists. Sound familiar?
Reagan and Bush had weaknesses, and yes, while honor, integrity are noble traits to us, they are considered weaknesses to the Left, which in time they know they can exploit. The Left can’t control events such as 9-11, anymore than I can control the deal, but over time, by simply watching and studying, they knew they could roll Bush in various ways, although he gafoodled them for nearly four years simply because he always meant what he said. This was so alien to them they really did believe they could win in 2004, while, compare, not fifty Republicans thought they could win in 1996.
Similarly, within a week of being picked by McCain as a running mate, the Left knew they had to undo Sarah Palin. And for the near term, I’d say they’ve been pretty successful..
Which brings us to the Obama-Boehner face-off. This is even more important than the Reagan-Gorbachev face-off in Reykjavik in 1986, but can also be as devastating as the Chamberlain-Hitler face-off in 1938.
This is not about who’s bluffing, as both know the cards they are holding. But rather who’s most likely to fold. It’s the primary goal of the serious card counter to learn this. As the card counter knows, it’s the cards themselves that dictate the outcome once the hands are played…but it may determine whether they have to be played at all. This is crucial to the guy holding a poor hand, such as Obama’s perfect Oklahoma (2-5-7-8-Jack).
I’ve already discussed this and we also know Boehner is holding a full house, Aces over Kings. Sure, maybe Obama has an Ace down, and Boehner can’t be sure about it, but he still knows nothing Obama has can beat his full boat.
He knows Obama’s got “nuttin.”
Obama’s only game is to bluff Boehner down, and quite frankly, he knows more than any man should about Boehner’s likelihood to do that. As I said, they started studying Boehner when he first ran for Congress. It’s what they do, and they spend plenty of money on doing it, as I lamented just a moment ago.
Obama may believe his ace in the hole is his Chicago mob tactics. The politics of vindictiveness can be a powerful bluff to the person inclined to fold a losing hand. But Obama represents a political ideology that seems to have gone “all in,” not just here but worldwide, and yes, when a rat’s cornered it can become very unpredictable.
Maybe Obama believes he can rough-shod his plans through, no matter what the cards say. I’ve already talked about this option as well, and advised Boehner. He knows what he has behind him by way of a counter to this move. If in fact they are in an “all in” mode, the sooner the better this face-off comes to closure . But Obama has never really played for these stakes, either. We doubt he’ll go all in.
If Boehner calls his bluff, Obama’s finished.
It all comes down to what Obama’s card counters know about Boehner. The Left knew in 2001-2003 there was no way they could roll GW Bush on certain things, who stood by a simple “Yes, we will”, and the same about Ronald Reagan in 1986, as he hammered the final nail in the Soviet coffin with an equally firm “No, we won’t.”
So, this face-off between Obama and Boehner is not politics. What follows will be the real politics.
What both men know now is beyond our ken, but we know all of Obama’s available moves, including early retirement, and have assets in place to deal with each of them.
All we know is that History stands on the brink, depending on who blinks.