I learned to play blackjack in Deadwood, South Dakota. Gold was first discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, and two years later, miners moved into the area. They came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold – and Deadwood was born.
In the early 90’s, I attended a training seminar on franchise regulation in the nearby town of Lead, up in those Black Hills. At night, we’d climb aboard the hotel’s van and be carted to Deadwood, because there was nothing going on in Lead, believe me.
Limited-wage gambling was is its infancy, and there wasn’t really anything else to do in Deadwood but visit the main street, where old saloons had been renovated into gambling facilities. The gambling limit was $5.00, no matter what you played. Slot machines didn’t interest me, and one of the attorneys attending the seminar bought me a drink and asked me to join him at the blackjack table. I was playing for money, so I didn’t drink. He drank a lot and gambled a lot, and lost a ton of money. I stayed focused and ended up winning about eighty bucks. I bought drinks for the gang back in the hotel bar.
The last day of the seminar, a few of us took a ride through Custer State Park. We’d seen bison, antelope, bighorn sheep. After driving for about forty minutes, I asked where we were. ‘Still in the park,’ I was told.