When Luck Turns Its Back, All a Player Can Do Is to Wait

When Luck Turns Its Back, All a Player Can Do Is to Wait

When I hear Jimmy Buffet's song, 'A Pirate Looks at 40,' I think of the Caribbean, the trade winds and the power of oceans.

In the old days, a sailor without wind could not sail. Sometimes sailors on a ship would be caught in the doldrums -- an atmosphere where the wind does not blow and where you simply have to wait until Mother Nature decides to cooperate in order to get you moving again.

I watched the Johnny Depp movie 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and became so bored at the lack of realism that I left the theater after less than 30 minutes.

Living in St. Kitts, Nevis and St. Maarten, I became acquainted with the sea. I covered regattas and cigarette boats. Took a terrifying 60-mile per hour over the waves from St. Maarten to a tiny island 13 miles away.

The cigarette boat flew over the waves, bouncing high into the sky and landing with a bone-jarring thud. My journey left me aching with bruises, filled with adrenalin -- and promising myself I would never do it again.

I read a book once written by a highly respected historian who lived on Nevis. It was about sugar cane, rum and the pirates who lived in the Leeward Islands. It also described the last massive pirate hanging when the government of St. Kitts hung 19 pirates who had raided a British vessel. Only the ship's doctor, a 14-year-old cabin boy and an ailing seaman who was in sick bay when the raid occurred were spared.

Can you imagine a chase at sea? It could take days for one ship to outrun the other. And if during that chase the winds suddenly ceased, the chase would end. The pursuers and the pursued would be trapped in the doldrums and their fate would be sealed.


Gamblers, especially poker players, can also be trapped when the winds of chance fail them.

Although it doesn't happen very often, luck can change for a gambler. Nothing he does seems to work. He can change games, change seats, buy good luck charms, and even stand on his head and nothing happens.

He is trapped in the doldrums.

I have talked with oldtime gamblers who have suffered from this ailment. They physically shudder when they describe it.

One gambler said, 'There's no way to rush the ending. All you can do is wait and let it run its course. The cards seem to have a mind of their own and no human force can change things.'

I remember the first time I visited the Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, PA. I had been going to The Meadows near Washington, PA., heard about the Rivers and wanted to try my luck there.


The casino was very lucky for me. I would take the bus from my hotel in Charleroi and make the 45-minute trip night after night.

I won 13 times in a row. It was an incredible experience.

Some of the other players knew my younger brother, Legs. They were bitter about my winning streak and came up with all sorts of reasons for my luck.

'He just plays nut hands,' one said. 'Nobody loses when you play the nuts.'

Well, maybe the player is right. I was playing the nut hands. But what power caused me to receive those hands?

Eventually my luck changed, of course. Lady Luck abandoned me for a spell and visited others, leaving me temporarily trapped in the doldrums. Jimmy Buffet would understand.

“I won 13 times in a row. It was an incredible experience”

  • What they did in the doldrums, also known as the Horse Lattidudes, was thow a horse overboard when they got really desperate...apparently when they were desperate for water. But then again it could easily have been revenge. Maybe the horse didn't win in the race, but swimming...it's coming around on the outside, lol. I have not been around vey much jealousy - used to be that I was the only jealous one. But you can only gamble what you have, not what you don't have. That helped me a lot with the jealousy.
  • Welcome back pinkxxx! I too remember that previous comment he made about "Johnny Depp and Pirates of the Caribbean." I am not even going to go there, this time. What are you doin Geno? Now, no more talk about anybody being visited by doldrums, having a change in luck or anything to that effect. Shhhhhh, lets not jinx it! Your in a real good place and there's nowhere to go but up to the top of your game. Don't get me wrong, like coolsongss said and I agree, "the doldrums analogy between sailing and gambling is very impressive" Your stories take on a life of their own, but shhhhhh, why chance it...........
  • Wow, the doldrums analogy between sailing and gambling is very impressive. I am only a player with small money and never am able to think of participating in the tournaments in land casinos. I picked up a good term - nut hand in pokers :)
  • As soon as I read "Johnny deep and pirates" I knew what your response would be ...lol. You had mentioned once in a previous article while back how you didn't like that movie . It wasn't intended to be correctly specific but more of a comedy I believe. I liked it for that purpose. That's beside the point . Very nice winning streak you had going there , shame it did one of those bad turns , Im familiar with those and yes being caught in the doldrums is not a fun place to be .
  • WOW ~ so I saw that song title & immediately thought about my 40th Birthday just a few days away. I quickly opened Youtube & played Jimmy Buffet for the next hour ~ replaying memories of my childhood in the Low Country Beaches of South Carolina. Growing up in the Bars of Charleston there was never a shortage of Parrotheads around. The last line reads, "Jimmy Buffet would understand." Geno, you share your stories so eloquently, with such an exceptional attention to detail, that I believe we all understand. :)

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