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So what is Three Card Monte anyway? I'd seen it played on the top of crates on streetcorners, but never understood the rules of the game. After a little research, I discovered the card game (which was recently made illegal in New York) has been around since the 18th century. The rules are simple and the odds are never in your favor. Click here and play for yourself.

Anyway, don't worry, there's still quite a bit of gambling on the streets of Williamsburg's Southside.

To catch some decent action, you need only walk down to where the bridge meets the BQE. On my block there seems to be one Sinatra type with a lock on most of the action. He doesn't seem to have any kind of schedule, but I almost always see him on the weekends. I'd wanted to play for ages, so I bought a Guava drink, sipped it and watched a little old lady play while I tried to figure out the rules.

The game was not Three Card Monte. It was a lot like roulette only with dice instead of a wheel. There are six numbered squares written on a rectangular board of plywood that rests on two milk crates. Three dice are needed to play and a my dealer used a couple of metal washers to put on the dollars to keep them from flying away. Your money doubles if any of the dice match your chosen square. If you put dollar bills on squares 2 and 4 and he rolls a 6 and two 4's then he'll put two more bucks on top of your #4 stake.

The game I've been frequenting has a creepy, crazy looking guy giggling and smiling madly and drinking something in a bag. The guy who's in charge is very friendly. He's in his forties and wears a baseball cap. There's never a lot of chatting going on. He tries to be gentleman while he takes everyone's money so he's always very polite. What makes the whole operation so charming is that it seems like no one's dropping anything even as heavy as a fiver, so you lose your cash dollar by dollar. The little old lady that I saw playing was patient enough to bet a single per roll and would never double down. Playing this way extends your play time to five minutes. Playing multiple squares gives you 2 minutes of fun.

I must admit I'm not actually sure if you're not allowed to drop fivers—I never witnessed Grandma risking stakes this high. When I won I usually kept my stakes down to a dollar. I should have experimented a bit more, but I was wearing something embarrassingly hipsterish and just wanted to go with the flow. Remember, this is against the law after all, so don't make a big scene when you go to check it out. The fuzz could be everywhere so you really need to play it cool.

Should you tip the dealer (roller)? I don't know. If you're kicking ass you probably should, but since large wins are unlikely there's nothing to worry about. Remember, the math of the game is in the dealer's favor.

If you're looking for an even friendlier, gentler form of gambling, I recommend Tuesday nights at the Greenpoint church at the corner of Driggs and Newel. If you get there a little before 7pm you might be able to make a thousand bucks on the early bird. The women who work and play here are so friendly it makes you want to weep. Fifteen dollars gets you more Bingo than I can handle (2 hours) and a chance to make a little cash (40 dollars for a "postage stamp" etc.)

The only things to keep in mind are don't sit in one of the ladies usual seats, and don't smoke pot before you go. Like playing jeopardy or doing spreadsheets, pot and bingo don't mix. Anyway, it's a lovely way to spend an evening; they serve hotdogs and if you feel bad about your cigarette smoking habit, compared to everyone else, you'll feel like you hardly smoke at all. Aside from being a bit mentally taxing, it's the perfect date. If you or your date wins it will be the best date you've ever had. If you lose, the awful hollow feeling that often accompanies gambling will give you both an itch to do something else to make you feel better.

A challenge for readers of this column:

After playing the dice game I tried to calculate the odds, but after a 2-minute effort, cracked and asked a friend of mine who got a 5 on his calculus AP. Unfortunately, he either couldn't do it or couldn't be bothered, so, to the first reader who tells me the correct statistics, I will send 5 Goya Flans. You'd think they'd be disgusting, but, as anyone who's ever tried one will tell you, they're not, they're fucking delicious. They are so good in fact, that they'll make you so greedy and piggish that you'll eat two in one sitting and feel sick.

-- Oliver Turner

Coming Soon: Williamsburg's Evangelical Community - Loud and Proud

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