Dick Stauffer was the handsomest, most eligible bachelor in Phoenix. Eligible because Dick, who had been married maybe half a dozen times, was between wives. Being unmarried was a rare thing for my friend Dick and he didn't know quite how to handle it.
Before going on with the story, let me tell you how I met Dick. I was covering the federal beat for the Phoenix Gazette, a daily newspaper that no longer exists. The beat included covering the Arizona Senatorial and Congressional offices.
Dick was working as a Congressional aide to Rep. John Conlan, son of a well known National League Umpire named Jocko Conlan. Because I called on Conlan's office daily to see what projects he was sponsoring for Arizona, Dick and I became good friends.
He eventually resigned from his position to run for political office. Dick had been a U.S. Marine, an Arizona Highway Patrolman and had worked at several other jobs. He was always impeccably dressed with perfect suits that fit and a tie that impressed people -- especially females.
One day he came by my office at the Gazette.
'If you're free this weekend, let's go to Las Vegas,' he said. 'I just bought a new convertible. We can drive up in my car.'
I pushed my way back from the desk.
'What are we gonna do in Las Vegas?,' I queried.
Dick gave me a crafty look. 'I don't know what you're going to do, but I'm going to play roulette. I have a system my grandfather gave me -- and it works.'
Now I know a little something about roulette. There isn't any way you can beat the game. If you cannot change the odds to be in your favor and it's a House game, just forget it and go on to something else -- a skill game like poker or blackjack, for instance.
'Nobody can beat roulette,' I said flatly. 'Even Albert Einstein couldn't figure out a way to beat it. He actually studied roulette to see if a winning system could be devised after discovering his Theory of Relativity. His conclusion -- it could not be done. Actually what he said was, 'The only way to beat roulette is to steal the money.'
Dick laughed. 'That's what the neighbors told my grandfather. They called his bluff and he took a bunch of them to Las Vegas for the weekend.'
'He won,' said Dick. 'Over $2,000 from what I hear. Although I admit the amount gets bigger each time my grandfather tells the story.'
And so we drove up to Las Vegas. Dick's blue Thunderbird convertible was perfect for the four and a halff hour journey from Phoenix. The top was down all the way and the warm dry Arizona sun was as intoxicating to the senses s expensive champagne.
On the way, Dick told me his system.
'My grandfather always believe it was the weight that made the difference in roulette.'
'The weight of the chips. If all or most of the chips are on black when the dealer is ready to spin the wheel, you bet on black. If most of the chips are on even numbers, you bet on odd. My grandfather never trusted anybody. He figured the owner of the roulette wheel could make the ball fall wherever he wanted.'
I whistled. 'Wow. So because he distrusted the House, he basically bet when the House was favored.'
'Something like that. When everybody is betting way, we wager the other. Are we partners?'
'Partners,' I said,squeezing his hand and giving him a $100 bill.
It was one of those magical Las Vegas weekends when everything went right. As we were checking in at The New Orleans Casino Resort, we saw two beauties who turned out to be flight attendants for Delta standing in line. After some chat, they agreed to meet us for dinner, drinks and a show later that evening.
Dick smiled at the older stewardess whose name was Pam.
'Congratulations,' he said.
'Thanks. Why are you congratulation me?'
'For being my fifth wife,' he said, winking. 'Before the night is over, I am going to poropose.'
'We'll see about that,' said Pam. 'But it's a great line.'
I decided to give Dick the reins and let him lead the way to see how the roulette system worked before I tried my luck at poker. We found a roulette table that wasn't overly crowded and took our positions.
The bets were placed. I made a hasty count as did Dick. He shook his head and whispered, 'They're pretty even. Wait until the next roll.'
On the next role, most of the chips went on even numbers. We made a sizable bet on the odd numbers. The ball dropped in 17.
'Thanks, Granddad,' Dick whispered as he collected the winnings.
That night we won at roulette and I won at poker. The girls met us for dinner, looking stunning.
'Don't forget,' said Dick, taking Pam's hand. 'Wife Number Six.'
Dick won at roulette over the next two days and shared the money with me. I never did find out whether he and Pam got together on the Wife No. 6 thing. Next time I talk to my buddy, I'll share the results with you.
Author: Geno Lawrenzi Jr.