My chips are down. The only luck I had was when a girl stretched across the Roulette table to rake in her winnings and the gold sequin dress rode up to expose some thigh. She didn’t notice, and was lost in the moment of being 1000 rand up.

“They’ll have to call it the West Casino from now on,” she laughs.

The hired-flunky has now stopped bringing me my old-fashioned, and as persona non grata, without even two-chips to rub together, I may as well go and watch over the shoulder of one of the old ladies in their ugly jerseys who are inserting their pensions into the various slot-machines, one coin at a time…

How did things get so bad?

The night started in a stretch Hummer, with mirrors and LED lights on the ceiling and crystal champagne flutes stretched along an illuminated shelf that ran the length of the ride. Me, I’m suited and booted, and all courtesy an invite from a Showgirl and a man in a white Tux. It was a pay-day Phuza-Thursday, with a benefactor footing the bill and the promise of an Epic night.

Prior to this game night usually meant either playing 30 Seconds after a dinner party, or some drunken Jenga on a dive bar’s counter. That was about to change, and so after trading the Hummer’s lush interior for canapés and cocktails inside of the Casino, I was directed towards the training tables where I was schooled in the games of Black Jack.

You know the house has an upper hand when the croupier has a mouth full of gold and bling on almost every finger. Her luck is uncanny. Quite frankly, it’s intimidating.

We enter the lions den and within minutes I’m R100 down.

“Not going to bet?”

“Winners know when to quit.”

“Losers have no other choice.”

Oof!

Meanwhile Paul Snodgrass is riding one helluva lucky streak. I don’t know how he’s faring in the actual gambling stakes, but judging by his Plus One the guy definitely knows something that I don’t. So I watch his game, hoping that I might learn something, or that some of his luck will rub off on me at the very least.

Frist card: five. Second card: Queen.

“It’s like sex in South Africa. You need her to be sixteen at the very least. Hit me.”

Third card: six.

“Black Jack.”

Beat.

“But what you really want is 21… “

I’m no good at Black Jack, it’s too much like work, and I can’t help but take it personally when the croupier beats me. Every. Single. Time. It’s also R50 a bet, so I cash in the rest of my stash for R5 stacks and spread them around the Roulette table instead.

After several spins of the wheel it’s all over. But at least it takes longer to lose my money on the Roulette table than with the previous Black Jack.

Still, it comes as no surprise that the numbers on a roulette wheel add up to 666.

The drive home is less celebratory than I would’ve hoped.

But then it was never my money, I had a very good time losing it, and there’s a girl in a black dress that, if I play my cards right, I just might get lucky with.