.An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

An excerpt from my novel 'Cruise Quarters'

When people sat down at Sarah Seldon’s blackjack game, they always wanted to talk about The Book. “Should I double down? Should I hit? Dealer, I know you’re a gambler; you could let me win if you wanted to. What does the book say?” She had never read this book, this mythical Bible for gamblers. The truth is there are 2256 books, each teaching its own foolproof winning system. But Sarah had been in the casino business long enough to think with a gambler’s mind. Gamblers knew they could follow all the rules of basic strategy, utilize money management and still lose if they weren’t dealt the right cards. The allure and curse of gambling was that there were no sure things. In the end it all came down to luck; gamblers prayed that Lady Luck would show up and that she would stick around for awhile.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


The April issue of The Atlantic ran a great article about gambling. The title was The Gambler Who Broke Atlantic City. It is a fun article to read and it really explains in an easy to read way about how to win in a casino. Don Johnson is the man who won millions in Atlantic City. The only factual problem was when the author was describing a double down hand; a dealer always turns up their hole card before they hit their hand. But as a casino professional we know that they always get it wrong. It is a rare movie or television show set in a casino that doesn't make some mistake. That is why we took so much care when we were writing Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos And Cruise Ships to get it right.

Don't even start me on 'The Cooler' there is no 'Cooler' it was just something made up to sell a movie. Walk up to any dealer and call them 'The Cooler' and watch them cringe, anyway 'The Cooler' wasn't a dealer but a player who stood behind the table. Casinos don't cheat, they may lure you in with bells and neon but the donations you make are purely voluntary.

After we both read the article my husband Ray and started talking about the few movies that have gotten it right. I enjoyed Casino and Bugsy Malone but they were a little before our time. I felt like Owning Mahowny was the best movie about the modern casino business that I have ever seen. This is a movie about an assistant manager at a Toronto branch of a leading Canadian bank. On the weekends he flies to Atlantic City where he gambles hundreds of thousands of dollars. The gambler is played by Oscar winner Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and his love interest is Minnie Driver. It is the most realistic portrait of a compulsive gambler I have ever seen, maybe because it is based on a true story. Set in the 80's before gambling had expanded into all corners of the country. It shows an Atlantic City at the top of its game.

Ray loved Croupier, which I also loved because who doesn't like to look at Clive Owen? Clive Owen plays Jack Manfred an aspiring writer who becomes a croupier to make ends meet and falls under the spell of casino life. Ray said it really replicated his experiences in casinos in London, he learned to deal there and we talk about his training days in our novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. The dealers all used to frequent a Greek Restaurant, The Grecian Grill, after the casino closed at night just like in the movie. What male doesn't like to relive his carefree bachelor partying days? There is a heist in the movie with the usual amount of holes in the story but don't let that get in the way because it is the mood and settings that make this movie so great. 
Both movies are a few years old so you will probably have to download them or catch them on a movie channel. But if you like to gamble and are interested in what goes on behind the scenes in a casino they are worth a watch. Or you can read all about it in our novel Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos And Cruise Ships.

About the author:
Cara Bertoia is the author of Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships. Her novel is really a travelogue, a narrative, a romance, a self-help manual for gambling and cruising, and a real-life story all rolled into one funny, obsessive, and entertaining story of two people whose separate life journeys meet at a crossroads. Kindle Fire Dept. says, "This novel is a gem that is nothing short of a vacation in a book!"

Below is the links to Cruise Quarters - A Novel About Casinos and Cruise Ships

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