Quit while you’re ahead. All the best gamblers do.

Baltasar Gracián Morales, 17th century Spanish Jesuit, writer and philosopher

Gamblers are among the most unpredictable, incorrigible and erratic individuals, just to use the first three adjectives to describe them.

They are not bad people at all, and I being a minor part of the gambling world once, speak more for myself though. There are many more adjectives applicable as this article travels its path to the end.

There are so many self-made rules and pantang (forbidden acts) too. Or are these just old wives’ tales? Does Kenny Rogers hit it right with his song ‘The Gambler’… especially on the part ‘don’t count your money on the table’? 

For example, while going to a cock pit for a cockfighting rendezvous, a punter should not buang air or take a piss/do the big business. Diehard gamblers are superstitious; to them this is buang nasib or giving away one’s luck to others.

If one is going for a card game at someone’s residence and you go to the host’s loo first before starting the game, that is tantamount to giving or surrendering your luck or fortune to the host.

There are many more. Even when you are on the way to buy numbers at the red, yellow, green or blue counters – ask 4D punters for further details – and a beggar asks for ‘a donation’, another pantang comes into play, namely not to proceed with buying any number.

Sometimes this helps to save one’s money and deprives the counters of extra profits. But in a case of my friend, due to his loyalty to the pantang he was deprived of a 10 grand extra earning because of encountering an elderly woman who asked for one ringgit from him that he complied but did not proceed to the green counter in BDC.

That evening his car number was the first prize. He checked his wallet and the slip showed RM4 written for the number that he did not get to buy because of the encounter with the beggar. Erratic and unpredictable wasn’t he?

There are many more pantang. Another lady, a keen Gin Rummy player, upon having a stretch of bad luck, put on her panties ‘inside out’ before going for another game.

It brought her luck the first time she did it but the going was good for only once. She tried many funny acts – not so sure whether these included going without panties – but Gin Rummy needs skill and lady luck and if these two are not on your side, then you’re off the grid. At least two of the three aforesaid adjectives are mirrored in this.

Try this one. Man and wife check into Genting Hotel (that houses the Casino De Genting) and pay a deposit of RM800 for a two-night stay at the hotel. After losing over RM2,000 on the first day, he decides to check out from the hotel and pays for one night stay, getting over RM500 as balance.

They put their small luggage at the hotel’s luggage store free of charge. He gives the wife RM200 and uses the over RM300 to play again.

Lady luck smiles on him – he wins back the RM2,000 lost the night before and surprisingly wins over RM3,000 of Uncle Lim’s money (Genting’s casino patrons always refer to the place as Uncle Lim, despite the fact that its pioneer Tan Sri Lim Goh Tong having left the building).

How about this one? To use a past tense, he went to try his luck at Uncle Lim’s on one weekend using night flight from KIA and without checking into any room in the Genting Hotel or the Highland Hotel nearby.

He started playing his favourite game, the Russian roulette with fluctuating success and after three hours of play he was left with only a few ringgit which was certainly short of the RM48 for a taxi to old Subang Airport.

Still he took a cab – those days no coupon was needed. Upon reaching Subang – luckily his return ticket to KIA was safe in his pocket – he gave the cabbie his RM300-gold necklace, telling him that was all he had.

The cabbie couldn’t believe his luck but just to be sure, I am sure his next stop was the goldsmith. A close friend was the main actor in that episode.

The same actor, in another episode, lost again to Uncle Lim. This time, upon arrival at old Subang he took his AmEx charge card and purchased a RM350-Charles Jourdan handbag for his spouse at one of the shops there.

Upon arrival at KIA, the wife happily received the handbag and gave hubby a big hug. He smiled but his heart was somewhere among the clouds at Pahang and Selangor border, thinking of making another trip there soonest possible, provided that he could get a soft loan from a political ally. 

Apart from Casino De Genting, I had been to one other casino, the Sta Cruz in Manila of the Philippines. This was in 1982 and with a lady who wore a wedding ring on her finger, which was more of a decoration rather than declaration. We won a bit. Good luck to all gambling buddies!

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.