LAS VEGAS — AHOY MATEYS!!!

Sadly, we missed “International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which was on September 19, but we would like to introduce you to Pirate 21! Pirate is another version of traditional blackjack, but with a few tweaks.

You can play three hands at the same time, but you’re playing with Spanish decks (usually 48 cards, with no 10s). And there are some very tasty side bets. Our favorite is the “Match the Dealer” side bet, which pays when either of the players’ first two cards matches the dealer’s up-card. A non-suited match pays 4 to 1, while a suited match pays 9 to 1.

Speaking of suits, do you know that clubs was the only suit that made it to the modern deck of cards? The other suits were cups, coins and swords. Kinda like that better than hearts, spades and diamonds.

So, Pirate 21 vs Spanish 21. These two variants are pretty similar and have a bunch in common. They both use 48-card decks with no 10s, both allow doubling at any time, double down rescue, late surrender, splitting up to four hands, drawing to split aces and doubling after splitting. But my absolute favorite is the player ALWAYS wins on 21 even if the dealer has the same.

HOOPIN’ IT UP!!!

For years, the contests here in Vegas were mostly all about football, and still are, but the Westgate SuperBook has a delicious NBA season wins contest. You will select OVER or UNDER on win totals for each of the 30 designated NBA regular-season games. The top three contestants with the highest number of points at the end of the season will win. Not sure how much gold will be in the pot at the end of the rainbow, but it’ll cost you 200 bones to enter. The NBA season starts on October 18, so entries close on the 19th. If you need more info, hit my email, ben@americasline.com.

WINNERS ONLY!!!

Wondering why we call it WINNERS ONLY? No one’s counting, but we are on a 9-0 run, yeah NINE & OH the last few columns. Well, actually, I’m counting.

Gonna run to Philly this afternoon for another W. Imagine if the Phillies beat the Braves and the Padres beat the Dodgers. Then Mr. & Mrs. Nola, A.J. and Stacie, will have to make some tough decisions. Aaron Nola will start for Philadelphia this afternoon while his brother Austin will probably be behind the plate catching Blake Snell in the late game.

The Nola parents don’t have to worry yet about which kid to root for, but if Aaron keeps throwing bagels, they’ll have to make a decision soon. Little brother Aaron (he’s 29, Austin is 32) has thrown nothing but bagels the last two times out. And he also BAGELED the Braves in Philly back on September 23, going six innings and posting eight Ks.

Looks like Nola will face Spencer Strider instead of Charlie Morton. Strider had an amazing season, posting an 11-5 record with a slim 2.67 ERA. But, and there’s always a but, Strider has not pitched since September 18, which is almost a month. According to the Braves, it was due to a minor oblique issue. OK, we’ll go with that, but will still ring the Liberty Bell. If the oblique is fine and Atlanta wins, then we come right back with the Phillies tomorrow against Charlie Morton.

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email... ben@americasline.com.

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