You might call me a gambling addict. I was way down, it was time to pay, and I had nothing but the clothes I was wearing.
But they told me about a way out. It was one of the games they save for people like me. They called it ‘Winner Take All’.
They have a special line of credit for this, exclusively for Winner Take All players.
It’s a two player game. They give you a paper slip with an address, and a tacky black casino-branded watch. They give the same to your opponent, at another bar across the city.
You don’t play the house in this one, you’re against another player. No details on the other guy — that’s for you to figure out.
It goes like this: you do whatever you want, but after two hours, either one player is dead or the casino ensures you both are.
They’ll clean up any mess, provided there’s no collateral damage to bystanders, and the slip’s just advisory, you can do whatever you want. But the house collects their debts.
The winner, if there is one, takes home a hundred grand. A pittance compared to what they make from the bets of their ‘upper-end’ clientele on each game, but pretty good from where I’m standing.
I’m sat in my car outside the address on the slip. I can hear a party inside. Loud music. Sounds crowded. They like to add a little difficulty. I check the time on the dash. Ten minutes left.
The dice are cast. My opponent could have run for the airport as soon as they left the bar. I know I was tempted to. They might already be on to me.
Hell, the guy might just go apeshit in the party and take out the lot of them. But hey, that’s what gambling’s all about — I’m taking a chance.
As the final minutes slip by, I see a guy run out. The desperation is obvious — he stinks of a guy who knows he’s onto a loser. I flick on my taxi light. He sprints over and jumps in the back.
‘Anywhere. I just need to get out of here. Fast.’
I see him pull back his sleeve to look at his watch — black, casino-branded — and I feel that sweet, familiar rush.
Fifth win in a row, coming up. The first one was a little close for comfort, but then I had enough cash for the cab.
I should really stop, but I’m on a real hot streak. What can I say? You might call me a gambling addict.