Saturday, November 11, 2006

Why you should always bet on “0”.

Chris and I went to the First Hotel’s “Bingo Club” again last night as our monthly payday ritual dictated. It’s an eerie feeling going gambling in Vietnam as it’s illegal for Vietnamese citizens to gamble, yet foreigners are openly encouraged wih the lure of a free buffet and cigarettes and the 20 hour-a-day office hours are appealing. But it’s an uncanny feeling sitting in a neon light-flickering, windowless oval-shaped hall, with the fake sound effects of rolling cascades of coins and excitement emanating from every corner , surrounded by half a dozen elderly Korean businessmen, rolling away hundreds of dollars on every spin of the wheel or jerk on the one-armed bandit, and beady-eyed staff watching your every move, plying you with drinks and urging you to plough away your hard-earned salary into their electronic recipients. The Bingo Club doesn’t offer bingo or even human dealers, just life-sized, automated replicas as croupiers at the blackjack tables, decked out with fake icy-stares and fake eye-contact. They’re like blow-up dolls for fortune hunters spreading their seed into the slots, hoping for a return on their fleety investments, complete with pre-programmed sympathetic comments and smiles such as “Oh, I’m sorry. Dealer has blackjack,” which happens more often than not.

Roulette machines are so much better than blackjack. Wealth wagered on the spin of a wheel, a denomination placed on a random designated area or colour, greedy eyes watching a tiny, white plastic ball, which, in any other situation would have been indistinct – an ephemeral object imponderable and trivial – gaining accent and importance as its revolutions around the polished, wooden roulette wheel increases in speed. As Ricky Gervais would say, “I can show you a graph here, where the significance of the ball increases with every lap around the wheel. Lines going up. And across.”

Doubt sets in, seeping through the beaded sweat, saturating the mind, as the little sphere slows down. Did I really place enough to ensure a profitable return? Did I spread my luck widely enough? Will the Voisins du Zero feel offended that I snubbed there attentions, vouching instead on the bleeding-heart nature of the little plastic ball who would feel obliged to grace the Orphelins with its presence?

With a scuttled-fish *plonk*, of all 36 numbers it could have chosen, the ball settles unnervingly on the green “0”. Koreans sigh whilst I knowingly smile. That’s roulette. I lost about 300 000 dong, it’s not really a lot, besides, it was worth it, and as sure as hell I’ll be back there again next payday.

7 comments:

Emmie said...

ek dink jy en niel moet bietjie gesels...
;-)

Emmie said...

en terwyl ons almal nou hier in cyber space teenwoordig is, wil ek jou net sê ek het nogsteeds so 43 van jou boeke wat jy my geleen het. ek het net die ene gelees. ek wetie hoekom hulle so baie boeke vir BPhil prescribe nie.
ek sal die boeke vir jou mooi toedraai en vir krismas gee :-)

Emmie said...

en terwyl ons almal nou hier in cyber space teenwoordig is, wil ek jou net sê ek het nogsteeds so 43 van jou boeke wat jy my geleen het. ek het net die ene gelees. ek wetie hoekom hulle so baie boeke vir BPhil prescribe nie.
ek sal die boeke vir jou mooi toedraai en vir krismas gee :-)

henno said...

Ja, no problems, ek het self net een of twee van hulle gelees. Ek dink daai ene or Schalk Pienaar of so dude - Penvegter of so iets - "Die doyen van Afrikaanse Joernalistiek" - was horrible.

arcadia said...

their currency is called 'dong'? how delightful.

henno said...

Yup, the dong holds sway in VN. Never mess with the dong, unless you're holding a dollar.

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