Two days ago, I played blackjack for the first time in nearly a month. That's an overly long break for me, but I was traveling. I love walking into casinos - all that crazy Super Mario Brothers type music from the slot machines, the aggressive ventilation system battling the smoky overhang (a battle the ventilation system wins in new casinos and loses badly in old ones), and the knowledge that fresh cards and colorful (if filthy) chips will soon be in my hands. (I play double-deck pitch blackjack partly because you get to hold the cards.) I sat down at a table with two other players I'd never seen before and a dealer I like a lot. The other players turned out to be perfect: they both knew how to play and they were both friendly without being so chatty that they slowed up the game. (It's a delicate balance.)
Unfortunately, and I use that word sincerely, 19 minutes later I had doubled my money. I have a rule about leaving once I've doubled my money. I'm still angry at myself for the one occasion almost two years ago when I kept playing after doubling my money and ended up, hours later, coming home in the red. That's way too stupid a thing to do when you live in Las Vegas and can play whenever you want. So only 19 minutes after I started playing for the first time in a month, I had to stop. Doubling one's money is great, obviously, but I was oddly bummed as I walked to my car and drove home.
Tonight, I went to play again. (I'm rather impressed with myself for not racing back yesterday.) And tonight the news is slightly better. I doubled my money again and it took me an hour and 25 minutes to do it. That's still too short, but I'm ignoring the itchy feeling in my fingers. There's always tomorrow.