Blackjack players in the international community have something to celebrate today: the release from Chinese police custody of Ai Weiwei. Weiwei was arrest back on April 3rd and he has been held on what blackjack players and activist and politician view as suspicious circumstances.
Once arrested he was held on economic crimes. What created all the outrage among blackjack players who knew Weiwei as a brilliant yet kind player and among the international community was that he was an artist and activist in a country that has come under fire for extreme censorship. Weiwei spoke out often against such censorship and voiced his opinions about the Chinese government, which is why many feel he was arrested.
But his detention is over and Weiwei has been released under the agreement that he pay taxes he evaded paying, not speak about his internment and to not leave Beijing for a full year unless the Chinese government gives him permission to do so.
Blackjack players who knew Weiwei or have heard of his skill at the tables in Atlantic City are just happy to have him back on the outside. Back in April the blackjack community had organized several blackjack and poker tournaments to raise money. That money was used to lobby for the release of Weiwei, to impart trade restrictions against China, the most populated country in the world.
That is how much Weiwei meant to the blackjack community, who knew him as a quiet well-mannered player who willingly gave out tips and pointers on how to improve other players’ game and blackjack strategies.
On April 3rd Chinese artist and activist Ai WeiWei was arrested in China, and his current whereabouts are unknown. While there are the usual activists who are upset about WeiWei’s arrest, there is a surprising group of people who are very upset at the arrest and disappearance of WeiWei: US blackjack players.
This is because WeiWei was not only an artist and activist; he was also a first rate blackjack player. This is a guy who had full ‘comps’ at just about all of the Atlantic City casinos where he played a few days each week. He was so well regarded by the Atlantic City casinos that a limo was sent to his Lower East Side unfurnished apartment where he lived in the 1980s to pick him up and bring him to Atlantic City a few days a week.
Another show of how well regarded WeiWei was is the news several casino insiders who are considering putting together several blackjack and poker tournaments to raise money to lobby US lawmakers. What are they going to lobby for? That the government impose trade restrictions against China until WeiWei is released from Chinese prison, where he is assumed to be held. That is how well regarded WeiWei is among blackjack players—they are willing to put up trade restrictions against the largest country in the world for this man. Very touching. I mean that.
What made WeiWei so popular and well regarded among blackjack players? He was not a high rolling playing who kept to himself. Instead he was very open, talking with his fellow players and giving them tips and pointers on blackjack strategy.
One such blackjack player is Vinnie “Snake Eyes.” He recalls the time he met WeiWei: “I came here to Atlantic City now to unwind a bit at the blackjack table. It was here I met him some twenty five years ago. I was playing and losing bad, and then this Asian guy with a beard right out of the Kung Fu movies, playing next to me, starts telling me when to hit, split or stay. I don’t listen to nobody but every time I didn’t listen to him, I’d lose the hand. So I start listening. I was up a few grand that night. I always listened when he explained smart strategies. He is the best.”
It is actions and time such as that spent with blackjack players that made WeiWei such a popular man in the blackjack community. It is easy to see why blackjack players are so upset about his arrest and disappearance. Here’s to WeiWei and the blackjack community; I hope they get him released.