I used to frequent the Westcliff Sporting Club in Southend and more often than not a group of us from work would go there but on occasion I would go there on my own if I had nothing else to do and I felt I could stomach the drive from my home in Ipswich.
The Westcliff was a casino situated right on the main esplanade / sea front, call it what you will. It didn’t take that long to get to Southend, maybe 45 minutes or so, but upon arrival at the end of the street that the casino was situated on you could count on it taking you another 20 minutes just to drive the last mile if it was a Friday night. The reason for this was that the whole street, both sides of the road, would be crammed full of boy racers driving up and down the road at irritatingly slow speeds all trying to outpose each other. Police presence was high and arrests or altercations were inevitable so you had to be mentally prepared for that last mile.
On one such occasion I finally arrived at the casino and parked up outside. I’d had reasonable success in this place overall and buoyed by this fact I had brought with me just over a grand with my plan being to double it and walk out. I exchanged the bulk of the cash for two £500 plastic bricks and headed off to a roulette table that was close to the room reserved for the big boys to play poker in.
I exchanged some cash for chips and had just started to feel my way into things when there was a fair old commotion coming from the table next to mine. I looked over and saw a throng of people but none were betting, they were all watching the one guy who seemingly had the table to himself. I picked up my chips and went across to the table to see what the fuss was all about.
The guy playing had about £35k in front of him and was liberally seeding the table with £100 chips so when he won he won a fair amount but then again when he lost he lost a fair amount, it was all relative. Anyway I decided that the time for me to bet ‘properly’ had arrived so I watched the wheel spins for a few minutes and then, following the point where the croupier swept up the other guy’s losing chips, I placed a £500 brick on the middle 12 numbers.
As I said, I’d been watching the spins for a good few minutes before I placed my bet, but now my money was down the croupier changed her spin. Instead of the ball whizzing round the wheel at warp speed she released it in such a manner that it barely got round one revolution before it headed inwards on it’s way to it’s final resting place – the zero. So my 2/1 bet was a loser and even though I was pissed off I tried not to let it show and decided not to dive back in but watch the action for a bit before I bet again.
The next spin and she was back to her original style, ball rocketing around the wheel etc. When I was ready to go again I waited for the table to be cleared of chips and as the other guy was spreading his £100 chips about I placed my last brick on the middle 12. Once again the croupier changed her spin style and reverted back to the lazy slow release. A few agonizing seconds passed before the ball tinkled it’s way over the little pockets containing the numbers. I waited for the noise to stop, signalling that the ball had found it’s final resting place, before I looked over to see where it had landed. I don’t know what the odds are but that cruel bitch put the ball into the zero – AGAIN !
I turned on my heel and walked out of the casino, got in my car, and drove home, almost killing myself when, after zoning out thinking about my losses and how the croupier could be so callous, I misread the road markings on the A12 (a notoriously shitty road at the time) and hit a kerb at the entrance to a slip road. I was heading for the back of a parked luxury coach but somehow I managed to steer the car past it before I screeched to a halt inches away from ending up in a ditch.
I don’t know if there’s a moral to that story but there is one thing that I took away from it and that is never ever place your chips on the table until the wheel is in motion. I rarely visit casinos these days though we have a massive one about an hour’s drive from where I live. The last time I went there I looked around the tables and the table minimums and maximums see to it that there’s only a lucky few who will walk out of there with more money than they came in with.
As far as bets for the day goes I can’t see any point in hanging around all day to get involved in the in running offal that is supposed to pass as football so I’m having a day off. Good luck to those that play today, whether it be footy or racing or whatever. I’ll be back tomorrow come rain or shine (or snow in my case, though the melt is on, woohooo).