Clive has fun...at the casino
PUBLISHED: 10:08 21 March 2012 | UPDATED: 19:16 20 February 2013
Deciding that gambling might perk up his bank balance, Clive heads for the casino. Here he tells us how he got on...
Although J K Rowling might disagree, I have found writing not to be an especially lucrative occupation. Bashing out articles such as this can be quite satisfying, moderately entertaining and occasionally fulfilling but unless the Editor performs a spectacular U-turn, its never going to generate much in the way of wealth. Even if he doesnt score, Wayne Rooney earns more in the first half of a football match than I do in the whole of the year. Traditionally, of course, writers are supposed to suffer for their art. Why? Does poverty really provide an insight into the human condition denied to the well-heeled? Does being unfettered by worldly goods permit a more profound understanding of life, love and how Southern Railway can claim that over 90% of their trains are on time when two out of three you catch are horribly late.
Because I dont subscribe to the theory that poor is good and realise that at 62 its too late to either play up front for Manchester United or switch to a career in investment banking, Ive been looking for what financial experts term an additional income stream. It doesnt have to be a raging torrent; just a steady trickle will do.
Without wishing to appear immodest, Im a sparkling after dinner speaker. I know that because Ive made sparkling after dinner speeches. More than averagely amusing, reasonably well delivered and moderately entertaining, the only problem with them was that they were free and, in this context at least, free is not good. Now, on the after dinner speaking circuit big names can command big fees. Had I won a Pulitzer, Nobel or even a Booker prize we could now be talking four or even five figures. With nothing more than a decent grade in A-level English to my name, were not.
How about the Lottery? (If you detect an increasing note of desperation thats only because Im becoming increasingly desperate). The fact that Im, statistically speaking, more likely to be killed by falling masonry on the way to buying the ticket than I am to win the jackpot is too much of a turn-off. But theres nothing wrong with gambling per se provided, of course, I win.
What Im looking for is an opportunity to make a reasonable sum of money on a fairly regular basis where the odds, if not exactly favourable, are at least not heavily stacked against me. And thats why Ive come to the G Casino right on the front in Brighton.
The nice people here have even offered to teach me to be a better gambler. Somewhat suspicious by nature, I wonder why they would want to make it easier for me to win and regularly walk away with my pockets stuffed with thousands of their pounds. But, hey-ho, a generous offer is a generous offer.
After filling out a brief form, giving proof of my identity and having my photo taken, Im escorted upstairs by Jar-Young, who shows me around. Perhaps unfairly, I was expecting a rather sleazy joint but this establishment is relaxed, friendly and although its still rather early in the evening, very lively. Theres an intimate backroom overlooking the sea thats primarily reserved for high rollers and private parties. A decidedly low roller, I feel more comfortable in the main body of the casino where there are a number of gaming tables, a bar, a dining area and large screen TVs showing Sky Sports in pretty well every direction you look.
Luke, a young croupier who was training to be a dancer before a holiday job here developed into something more serious, is given the daunting task of showing me how to play the games. Conscious of how intimidating these places can be, G Casino is happy to give instruction and regularly holds introductory sessions for beginners.
Some things are undoubtedly beyond me, Two Way Texas Hold'em Poker being among them. Although perhaps rather girlie by comparison, roulette is altogether more accessible to those of us who cant distinguish a busted flush from a high-low split. But what roulette lacks in testosterone, it makes up in appealing simplicity; or at least it did until Luke explained some of the nuances to me. There are a range of bets such as the straight-up, split, street, corner, double street, trio, basket and loads of others. Obviously the more numbers you cover with your chip, the less you get paid out if you win.
Then there are the outside bets such as red/black, odd/even, the columns and the dozens (1-12, 13-24 and 25-36) and a few others besides. And did you know the wheel is split into thirds so that you can bet on numbers that are physically adjoining? Just as Im thinking that maybe I should have a crack at Two Way Texas Holdem Poker after all, Luke gives me and Jar-Young 100 worth of chips each. The only catch is we cant keep any winnings. In my case, that proves entirely academic as I lose the lot before you can say rien ne va plus. Jar-Young, meanwhile, is about 1,000 up. So much for beginners luck.
We switch our practise session to the blackjack table where I reveal my inexperience by repeatedly saying stick and twist. Despite adhering to the advice Ive been given about when to split a pair, when to stick (stand) and when to twist (hit), I dont fare any better than I did at roulette and while Jar-Youngs pile of chips is mounting mine soon vanishes.
Slot machines have been a mystery to me ever since they dumped the cherries, oranges and melons. Purely for the purposes of research and without any expectation of success, I pump 5 that Jar-Young has staked me into a fiendishly complicated machine that promptly spins 10 consecutive, meaningless, assortments of incomprehensible symbols and pays out nothing.
Time for something at which I consider myself rather more expert eating. Not only does the three-course dinner in the very pleasant restaurant represent outstanding value at 8.95 it also lasts a lot longer. Eighteen spins on a slot machine or succulent scallops, superb lamb and a choice of desserts is what is colloquially known as a no-brainer.
Emboldened by two pints of bitter, I return to the roulette table and this time its for real. Call me reckless if you like but I hand over 10 in cash, which regrettably I wont be able to claim back on expenses. Given my novice status, I choose appropriately green chips.
Since outside bets are for a minimum of 5 and this is my money, Im obliged to play the numbers. Simply because they are the nearest to where Im sitting, I go low and put one chip on each corner of the 5 (a corner or square bet) and one on the end of the 10, 11 and 12 row (a street bet). Thus my five 50p chips cover numbers 1-12. A clash of styles is evident as other players frantically spread their chips all over the table.
After half-an-hour intense effort I find myself a massive 20 up. Now is the time to quit, of course. Far enough in front to cover the crippling cost of petrol from home and back, and with enough left over to buy a newspaper in the morning, Im quids in. But Im having too much fun to stop just yet. And who knows, impressed by my astonishing success, some gorgeous bimbo might miraculously materialize at my side to admire my growing pile of green chips and show me a good time.
Sadly that doesnt happen. Instead, every so often some flash geezer slaps a couple of hundred quid on the black or the red to make my bets look rather pathetic by comparison. But they come and go, as indeed do all my fellow punters, leaving just me and the croupier. In fact, I see off three croupiers during my 90-minute gambling frenzy before, along with my dreams of fabulous wealth, my last green chip disappears down the dreaded black hole where all the losing bets are unceremoniously shovelled.
Outside in the cold night air, I look down from the promenade into the icy swirling waters of the Channel but, instead of suicidal at the loss of a hard-earned tenner, I feel decidedly upbeat at whats been a genuinely enjoyable evening. Although not a route to riches, casinos are fun. Go on, take a chance!