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COLD DECK by H. Lee Barnes


by H. Lee Barnes

Pub Date: March 15th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-87417-884-5
Publisher: Univ. of Nevada

A Vegas novel, so naturally, it concerns scamming the casinos.

Jude Helms is out of his element in Las Vegas, for he’s that seeming rarity: an honest dealer. But he’s run into a string of bad luck, having been fired without cause from several casinos. (Well, perhaps not totally without cause. Once, he complimented a customer for her largesse, which was misconstrued as “large ass.") Now, it’s 20 years later, and although his marriage has fallen apart, he’s close to his children, 14-year-old Beth and recent college graduate Lucas. All Jude really wants is enough money to start his own masonry company, but until that time, he’s committed—or condemned—to work the tables. Finally he seems to get a break when Audie, the mother of one of Beth’s friends, introduces him to Ben, who’s impressed by Jude’s skill in dealing cards. Ben works with him and with Angel, a slick con, to perfect Jude’s technique in checking and changing cards without being seen. In a hierarchy of corruption, Ben seems to be working for the mysterious Wade, an ex-con definitely not to be messed with. When Jude feels he’s had enough, Ben informs him that he’s now “in” and can’t escape the $2 million scam that’s planned involving a “cold deck,” in which a deck of cards with predictable patterns is substituted for one of the casino decks in the shoe. Jude does everything he can to extricate himself from his morally compromising situation and to protect his children, something made far more difficult when he discovers that Audie, with whom he’s developed a sexual relationship, is perhaps the mastermind behind the whole scheme—and is also married to the ever-menacing Wade.

Barnes’ novel will be of particular interest to those familiar with slots, blackjack and the seamy side of casinos.