As they walked from the Hotel de Paris to the Casino de Monte-Carlo Justus took her hand. Looking at the classical early 18th-century architecture bathed in night time lighting, Zeta felt like she was living a time machine odyssey. Just hours ago, she was flying in the supersonic S-512 at more than one and a half times the speed of sound, and now she finds herself in a setting where at any moment King Louis XV, King of France, might appear coming down the street in his royal horse-drawn carriage.
Walking inside the casino, Zeta marveled at the same elegant décor. The casino was busy and alive but not with the excessive noise, clatter, and clamor so ubiquitous to a Las Vegas casino. The slot machine area produced its predictable cacophony of dissonance.
“The casino makes so much income that the residents of Monaco pay no taxes. Aakifah’s husband has a dual citizenship, here and Morocco. Most of the citizens of Monaco are wealthy foreigners. It’s a tax haven and citizens are not allowed to gamble in the casino,” Justus recapped.
“The ruling family feels a country should not exploit its citizens.”
“It seems the citizens of Monaco are getting a better deal than residents of Nevada. Nevada citizens pay plenty of taxes, and the casinos welcome them with open arms, to be exploited.”
“Paradise always has its flaws,” Justus continued. “Driving is dangerous here. They drive on the right side of the very narrow roads, traffic entering from the right has the right of way, and nobody obeys the speed limits. Pickpockets are everywhere especially during the Grand Prix race in May, muggings are common, and a man will be fined if he isn’t wearing a shirt away from a beach area.”
“If I remember correctly now, wasn’t there a famous American actress who married a Prince that lived here?”.
“That was Grace Kelly, who died in a car crash when she lost control driving down a steep curving stretch of the dangerous D27 road not far from here. Her car somersaulted off a cliff and her daughter Stephanie, who was in the car, survived the crash.”
“Seems like cars are a dangerous place for a princess to be. Perhaps they should keep to carriages,” Zeta observed.
“Shall we try our luck?” Justus challenged.
“I’m game with your money,” Zeta said. “We’ve got a busy day tomorrow so let’s go for broke and try the roulette wheel of fortune.”
“It’s been both a wheel of fortunes won and lost since 1796 in Paris Zeta,” Justus said providing a history lesson. “It was a much less sophisticated and far more often rigged wheel back then.”
Justus bought $2000 in chips, and they went over to the nearest roulette table. They stepped up to the table as the croupier spun the wheel in one direction and then gave the ball a spinning toss in the other direction. The gamblers cheered for their bets hoping to evoke some magical influence over the laws of physics.
“I never gamble, but I’ll do this Zeta. You call the color. Just bet red or black. We’ll keep it simple. There are lots of strategies for this little game. The Martingale double up strategy, the Grand Martingale, and the James Bond strategy. All types of strategies. I have my own strategy. You just make the bet and I’ll put down the money.”
“What? Zeta asked feeling perplexed. “I don’t know anything about roulette.”
“Just trust your instinct. Your feminine intuition. Let’s go before the croupier calls bets closed.”
“Red,” Zeta gasped, and Justus put down a $200 bet.
The croupier spun the wheel and tossed the ball then announced, “All bets closed.” The ball bounced, hopped, rolled, and finally landed on green.
“Not very good intuition was it?”
“Not to worry, you’ll improve, pick a color,” and Justus slapped down another $200 bet.
“Oh no, I, ah, oh, green.”
The wheel was spun, bets closed, and the ball finally came to rest, and the croupier called, “Red!”
“Maybe we should try blackjack. This is a money pit, Justus.”
“Just relax, you’re doing fine. I’m seeing some improvement.”
“Try again, don’t lose faith in yourself,” Justus encouraged Zeta.
“Oh well, Red,” and Justus placed a $1,000 bet.”
“What are you doing Justus, I’m not responsible for all the money you’re going to lose.”
“I hear your caveat, and it’s duly noted,” he calmly replied.
The ball danced on the spinning wheel and settled in its chosen slot. “Red,” the croupier called.
“Oh my god, you won Justus, let’s leave now.”
“I think you’ve found your stride, my dear, you’re in the zone. Just stay there and call. Call the color Zeta.”
“Red,” Zeta said nervously.
Round and round the wheel went and again red was the winner. Again Zeta called red, Justus placed the $4,000 bet and won. Then Zeta called green, the ball found green, and the chip pile was now up to $16,000. “Skip the next two spins,” Justus whispered in Zeta’s ear. “Are we leaving now? I think we should make a graceful exit, Zeta suggested.” “Just two more spins, stay in the zone, Justus coached.”
When the two spins were over a shaky Zeta called red just in time for Justus to place his bet and win again. Then Justus said, “Make this one good Zeta, this is the last call.” “Green,” she barely got the word out.
To Zeta, the wheel seemed to spin in slow motion forever while the ball hopped and danced recklessly. Finally, the croupier called “green,” and the other players cheered and a large spectator crowd started gathering. Justus collected the $64,000 chip winnings and went to the nearest cashier window. These are tax-free winnings Zeta, do you want your half wired into an account?” Zeta tried to pass on the offer, but Justus insisted saying they were roulette partners. They both gave the cashier their account information, collected their receipts and left the casino. “When the mob starts gathering, it’s time to exit,” Justus told Zeta walking away from the entrance.
As they walked back to the hotel, Justus explained their winnings weren’t a real big deal at this casino and that an Englishman in 1873, named Joseph Jaggers, lead a team that won over $300,000 by tracking numbers for several days and discovering a bias in the casino’s roulette wheel. And more recently a man used computer analysis to find a bias in a wheel at the Casino de Madrid to win one million Euros.
“You’re a real encyclopedia about roulette.”
“I just like trivia Zeta, especially things I’m interested in or enjoy.”
“Alright, now tell me what just happened in there, Justus.”
“Before gambling was legalized and regulated in Las Vegas, croupiers had a reliable way of cheating. The ball had a steel core. Four equally spaced electromagnets were installed around the roulette wheel. Then the magnets were connected to a hidden button, and magnetic force could be used to direct the ball to an area of the roulette wheel containing few or no bets.”
“Fascinating, but what did you do tonight? Do you want me to believe that was lady luck or my female intuition?”
“I’m hoping we can have an honest and open relationship Zeta, so of course, I want you to know there was no invisible lady luck on either of our shoulders.”
“I played roulette long before these modern balls were used. Balls were made of ivory for two hundred years, and then Delrin balls, manufactured from a special plastic became popular. Delrin is an acetal resin called polyoxymethylene with a carbon hydrogen oxygen atom structure which resonates with a particular skill set of mine. So now you know.”
“Why thanks, Justus, that explains everything. You and your skill sets.” Zeta took a deep breath. “You know since my sister Briana died, my life just hasn’t made a whole lot of sense. Actually, since I married Benton.”
“How is that?’
“Up until then, things seemed to be going along in a rational cause and effect way. I was living life, setting goals, reaching goals. Now my life has become a chaotic, unpredictable nonsequitur. And I hate nonsequiturs. And you want me to believe you control the atoms in a roulette ball?”
“I’m sorry the roulette experience has you feeling depressed, but your winnings are in your account Zeta.”
“No, I’m not depressed. It’s just that I feel I’m experiencing an intense paradigm shift in my entire way of looking at everything. Or I may just be going stark raving mad crazy.”
“That’s why the context of everything we’ve talked about is so important. You are beginning to see things differently. As differently as a medieval human’s view would be compared to a 21st-century scientist’s understanding of life and the Universe.”
“That’s quite a difference Justus. Quite a quantum leap to make so quickly. Maybe my brain neurons and synapses are not up to the task.”
“You’re up to it Zeta.”
Justus walked her to her room gave her a warm embrace, and a gentle kiss on her cheek. Zeta found herself calmed by his gentle hug and wishing he’d held her longer. “Goodnight my lady luck. We’ve got a big day tomorrow. You look beautiful. Sleep well.”