Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia – Guest Post & Giveaway

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Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series)
by Cara Bertoia

About Casino Queen

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series)
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Setting – California
Wild Rose Press (March 16, 2022)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 260 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1509240918
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1509240913
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09PJWMG9Z

Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California where Native casinos have just opened, offering employment to thousands. She lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino where she is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar.


Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert of Southern California. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of often unique guests, and growing revenue while rooting out corruption.


In the process of rediscovering her inner strength, she learns, you have to gamble like your life depends on it. Because it often does.

Guest Post

Hi, my name is Cara and I am the author of a new suspense novel Casino Queen, it is based on my years working at Native American casinos in Southern California. One week we were working on a cruise ship and the next week in a Native American casino in Palm Springs, California. When I arrived, the casinos had recently opened. It was a brand-new industry that needed to hire thousands of people. If you build it, they will come, blackjack dealers appeared from all over the country.

If you read my book, you are probably curious about casinos. I have spent decades in the casino business. I have decided to show you the view from behind the table. I will pass on a few tips, so superstition doesn’t ruin your game. Please let me know if they help you win the next time you visit a casino!

If you were a blackjack table visited by thousands of punters a year, you would hear the same five things repeated every day. Guess what, all five of them are misconceptions, mixed up with superstitions and topped off with a thick layer of so-called expertise.

1. When the majority of players walk up to the table the first words out of their mouth are, “Dealer, are you running hot or cold?”

This old chestnut has been around as long as gambling. Movies, books, and even a dealer or two have added to the mystique of hot and cold dealers. Some things are easily disproved. Trust me, if some dealers were naturally hot and some cold then the casino would only employ the hot variety. Have you ever seen an advert in the paper for a new casino, “Now interviewing for staff, hot dealers only need apply.” No one would be a dealer because dealers work for tips and generally people who are winning tip. Without winners dealers would have no income. I can assure you there is only one person in the casino who wants you to win, the dealer! They want you to win because they work for the tips you throw them.

2. Third Base is the most important spot at the table, because seat number seven controls the cards.

That would only be true if the player in seat seven had a crystal ball and knew what cards would appear next. Sometimes they play correctly, and the cards fall perfectly and the dealer busts, then third base will take all the credit. Sometimes they play correctly, and the dealer hits out to twenty-one, but they don’t take the blame for their losses. In fact, the cards are shuffled many times during the course of the day, and no one knows the next card – or equally importantly the dealer’s hole card.

3. Someone at the table has to take a hit.

Let’s imagine the following scenario. The dealer shows a low card, maybe a five or a six, and everyone at the table has a stiff hand (12 – 16). All the players signal no card, but the benevolent player at the all-important third base will offer to sacrifice his hand for the good of the table, because, “Someone has to take a hit.” I have never understood the logic of this one. Since no one knows what the dealer’s hole card is or the next card out of the shoe, then just like every other hand a player should stick to the rules of basic strategy. By the previously mentioned twisted logic, third base may very well take the bust card and his sacrifice will doom the table. But if everyone loses with a sigh he will proclaim, “Well at least I tried.”

4. When things are going badly at the table, players think they can change the flow of the cards by adding or subtracting a hand from the game.

There is no flow or run of the cards, they are shuffled in a random order. Casinos go to great lengths to devise a shuffle which results in a random rearrangement of the cards at every shuffle.

5. I know I shouldn’t split these sixes against a ten, but I have a feeling.

Nothing gets a gambler into more trouble than a feeling. A gambler feels like they are smarter than the average person. The house always has slight edge even at blackjack but if a player follows the rules of basic strategy, they can avoid increasing that edge.

Like most things in life blackjack is a game of skill, which can be easily learned. I feel that if a player is going to spend $300 on a night at the tables it is worth their while to invest ten dollars to buy a book on basic strategy. There are thousands of books on basic strategy, you can find them in the gambling section of any bookstore or online. No book on basic strategy or gambling mentions ‘hot dealers’ or ‘taking the dealers bust card’ or ‘flow of the cards,’ it’s all strictly math. Take our advice, forget the old wife’s tales, buy yourself a copy, read it and study it. Happy Gambling.

About Cara Bertoia

Growing up in a strait-laced Southern family, I was always fascinated with casinos. In my twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, I drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. Well, I can tell you that after teaching high school, handling an unruly gambler was a piece of cake. My mother highly disapproved of my working in a casino, “a place so bad it has ‘sin’ in the middle.”

Eventually, I succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a high-tech job in Boston. I also began working on my MFA in writing at Emerson. I wanted to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. I am always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position, maybe my novel will.

While in Boston I was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, I spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. I was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in Leningrad.

I returned from ships with a very special souvenir, my Scottish husband Ray. We went to work at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs. We now live in Hollywood, Florida, where I write about my casino years while wistfully gazing out at the ocean.

Note from the author:

I love to see any of you out there reading Casino Queen. Send me a picture to and I will post it to social media.

Thank you, Cara B
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6 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Dear Brooke Blogs,
    Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I loved writing this article. Hope it makes you laugh!
    Cara Bertoia
    The Hopeful Romantic

  2. I’m looking forward to reading the book. I spent 20 years going to Vegas every year for either the PhotoKina convention or ComDex when it started. Each night I’d put $40 in my pocket and hit the Blackjack tables. When I ran out of cash it was time to head upstairs and watch television. LOL In twenty years my biggest win ended up being at a slot machine. I won $500. I put it way and splurged on something to eat in the restaurant.

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