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I Played Blackjack With the World’s Best Card Counter

It’s 10 p.m. on a Saturday, and the low-fare overnight buses in Chinatown are idling in rows. Markets have long ago pulled down their metal gratings and thrown bags of pungent trash onto New York’s curbs. And directly under the Manhattan Bridge, on a desolate corner, here’s an unusual sight: men in sequined sports coats and women in Oriental dresses, streaming through a set of sunken double doors.

Inside, in a lobby encircled by shuttered shlock-shops, this dapper group is grabbing $500 Monte Carlo casino chips and gliding up a wide marble staircase. At the top, Vegas showgirls—dripping in feathers and sequins—await with drinks and drawled greetings.

On the second floor, a dim sum palace unfolds. Red and yellow swirl together on the carpet; heavy curtains and fake bouquets adorn the walls. The tack complements the gambling den this eatery has been transformed into for one night only. Black-vested dealers hold dominion behind half-moon blackjack tables and shake dice out over craps boards. Bartenders dole out Tom Collinses and martinis while a band fills the room with jazz.

We’re at the Art of Cheating, a gambling ball hosted by the Obscura Society, the events arm of oddities website Atlas Obscura. It has brought together a handful of the world’s best card counters and cheats to transform the novices into card sharps.

More here – The Daily Beast


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