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Winning and Honesty in Las Vegas

When Reuben told me about the text message he’d received, I didn’t want to play along.

It was from our friend John, who’d heard we were in Las Vegas and asked Reuben to put $20 down on black 36. Cheapskate that I am, I figured it was $20 we’d be throwing away, and then we’d probably opt to avoid the awkwardness of asking our friend for a reimbursement.

But then we had a good laugh. Having never played roulette before, Reuben stopped by a table to see how it would work, and discovered that #36 was actually red. So he texted John back with the report. John was not deterred.

Then, we figured, what the hell.

That night we walked down the Strip to check out the new Cosmopolitan hotel and casino¬†and CityCenter, which had opened since the last time we visited Las Vegas. And, while it’s not at all relevant to the story at hand, I will say that I was absolutely awe-struck by the amazing chandeliers that graced the interior of the Cosmopolitan.

Continuing on, we were welcomed into the Aria by a statue of Buddha. I think we were supposed to rub his belly for luck. Not believing in such superstitions, I opted to pose with my bronzed twin instead.

And a strange twist to our luck was about to occur.

As we made our way through the casino, I spotted an empty roulette table and recalled our task. “Should we get this over with?” I asked Reuben. “Sure!” he agreed. So, very skeptically, we handed over a 20 and watched as the chips were placed on red 36 and the little white ball raced around the wheel.

It was beginning to slow down by the time I spotted the 36, and I still believed there was no way it would hit. But, just as that thought passed through my mind, another replaced it — maybe it would be a winner! And the ball bounced, and it bounced again — all around the 36. I threw my head back, “OH!” I thought, “we were so close!” But it wasn’t over yet. And when the ball finally settled on a spot, it chose the same number that John had chosen — red 36.

Now, as I already mentioned, we’d never played roulette before and I didn’t know the rules. I thought we’d doubled John’s money. But no — the dealer handed us chips worth SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS.

What?!?!?!?! I was astounded. Even the dealer couldn’t believe our luck, and insisted that our baby be named Roulette. “Roulette Schug.” Hmmm… maybe not such a good name for a boy.

Once the initial excitement subsided, a moral dilemma began to creep upon me. Did we have to tell John exactly how much he’d won? Did we have to tell him he’d won at all? It was prompted by the tiniest seed of jealousy. Why hadn’t we thought to add any money to the bet? Shouldn’t we get part of the winnings? After all, none of it could have happened without us.

But, of course, that wasn’t true. Without John’s prompting, we never would have put money down on red 36. And I never would have had a battle raging inside me — happiness for the sudden prosperity of dear friends versus a subtly boiling jealousy that I didn’t have the same amount of luck with my own bets.

In the end, honesty had to win out. There was really no question. At least not for us.

Reuben called John with the news, and he was just as shocked as we were. After all, there was no significance to the number 36 — he’d just had a random idea. A very lucky random idea.

For the rest of our trip, Reuben guarded John’s $700 in his wallet. And even though we didn’t return home from Vegas any richer in our own bank accounts, at least we know we didn’t lose our honesty.

 

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