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Steve Hansen: Some people, like my friend Bob, are just plain lucky

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Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 12:00 am

Are some people exceptionally lucky, or is it just an anecdotal observation? My guess is that just about everyone knows someone who beats the odds better than the rest of us.

My friend, Bob, is one of these. I met him in the mid-1970s, while working on my master’s degree. He was a professor at Chapman University and University of the Pacific.

Bob was a standout from the crowd. His 6-foot, 6-inch frame made him immediately recognizable.

My friend had a strong interest in persuasion. This caused him to give up his college teaching positions and go into full-time sales for national corporations.

“I made more money in a week than I did teaching the entire year,” he told me.

But Bob’s luck was not only with his career. He was a regular gambler at the tables in Reno.

“I’ve never lost in that town,” he bragged.

“Come on, Bob,” I countered. “Everybody loses now and then.”

“I’m telling you, Hans — I’ve never lost! If you don’t believe me, grab your wife and we’ll head for Harrah’s this weekend.”

So on a cold Friday evening in November, we squeezed into his girlfriend’s Toyota Corona and headed over the Sierras.

Bob played blackjack that night and was down about $100 (around $450 in today’s money).

“Don’t worry. I’ll be up tomorrow,” he assured me.

Saturday came and went. The tall, lanky gambler was now down about $180. With confidence, he declared that Sunday would be the day. But by late Sunday afternoon, Bob was down another $80 for a total loss of $260.

“Believe me,” he revealed with a worried tone in his voice. “This has never happened before!”

“Sure, Bob,” I sarcastically replied. “Just a little bragging that got out-of-hand — right?”

My friend said nothing, but as we were leaving the casino, he paused and noticed an elderly lady playing slots.

“I’ve seen her somewhere before, but where?” he inquisitively asked himself.

Then, he remembered. Her picture had been in the paper a few months ago as a $1 million slot winner at this very casino. Bob dropped everything and using his people skills, approached the woman.

She confirmed his observation. After the big win, the woman had become good friends with the casino manager. He would tell her when a payoff was expected to happen. The machine she was using had a $500 payout due. However, playing all day had not brought any success.

Bob persuaded her to give up the machine, and she did. He reached into his pocket and pulled out his last five quarters. On the final pull, he hit the $500 jackpot!

“See, Hansen! I told you I never lose!”

Well, what could I say? Apparently, some of us have it and some don’t. I guess I’m just too mathematically logical to have his kind of unfettered faith.

So, 35 years later, I’m still trying to hit a big one. But in the end, all I do is keep donating more of my hard-earned money to guys like Bob!

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

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