I’m sat with 17. I know it’s a good hand, maybe not the best, but a good hand nonetheless. The wisdom in these situations is to stick. That’s the odds, play the odds not the cards. But the thing is I like the what ifs.

What if I get a two or a three? I’ll get closer to 21. What if I get a four and hit the magic number – 21?

“Stick or twist, sir,” says the croupier.

I look at my hand again even though I know I have 17. My forehead moistens and the other players look at me.

“Sir, would you like another card or not?” says the croupier.

I know I shouldn’t, I know I don’t need it. I know I might have enough to beat the dealer. I get that twitch in my left eyelid that only happens when I’m anxious. My ‘Stressed Eric’ I call it.

“Sir?” says the frustrated looking croupier.

“Twist,” I reply before he has time to say anything else.

The croupier slides a card in front of me then turns it over. It’s a three! I barely suppress a squeal of surprise and joy at landing 20.

“Stick or twist, sir,” says the croupier, already knowing my answer and his attention moving on to the player next to me.

“Stick,” I say, leaning back in the high stool I’m perched on.

The player next to me hits a queen and busts and it’s now on the dealer.

The croupier turns over his two cards. A king and an ace. Twenty fucking one.

“Oh man,” I say. The sound of my deflation is audible around the room.

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Posted in 21, Lunchtime Stories

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