The Count

Ace blackjack player Stuart Ziglin has been beating Missouri casinos at their own game. Now they want to change the rules.

Gambling was his life once; now blackjack is his second job. That's all it is.

But a second job that's making him work harder than he should tonight. Two-fifty? Ludicrous. He's been here more than five hours now. Should've left when he made his stake back. Was only $50 away. No, no, what's the point in that? The point is to win money. Intestinal fortitude, that's what it takes. Most folks don't have it. But he does. Who could put the table limit on a hand, lose it, put it on the next hand, lose it, and put it on the next hand again, if the count's right? Not many people. But he could. That's what this game takes. Intestinal fortitude. Trust the numbers. Don't fight them. Trust them. Because that's what the game is ... numbers.

Tired again. The best blackjack player in the state of Missouri, he's gone now. Back on the highway. Back to Karen. A bit later this time than the last. Four-thirty in the morning. Had to go. Casino shut down. There's 55 $100 bills in his Montana silver money clip. Mediocre night. Cycle finally went his way. Knew it would. He'll be back. Place even money on that. There's still money to be made.

Because numbers, the numbers don't ever change.

"People with a considerable amount of money that are comfortable in their lifestyles, if you ask them the question, 'Would you rather have happiness or money?' what do you think the psychological effect of that answer is on the person?" Stuart asks rhetorically. "I'll tell you. They would stop and think and say, 'I wouldn't be happy living any other way other than the way I'm living now.' So, to answer the question, I would rather have money, because the money contributes to making me happy ... that's what it means to me."

And so the best blackjack player in the state of Missouri is, well, baited.

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