Nils's talk of betting triggers several thoughts in Lars. He recalls reading that Wild Bill Hickok did a lot of drinking and gambling and womanizing, meeting his end while playing cards in the No. 10 Saloon in Deadwood, South Dakota. Sat for once without his back to the wall, and was shot in the back of the head. How Western-sounding is all that?! What caused him to look it up was his college buddies pointing out Lars had drawn Wild Bill's "Dead Man's Hand" in a late-night poker game in their fraternity. Both black aces and both black eights. The fifth card in the legendary hand is undetermined. They didn't have Google then; Lars had to check it out at the library.
The research in that story of Lars is probably more representative of his nature than the poker. He doesn't like to gamble. He and Kyra have gone to Las Vegas a couple of times with Nils, who enjoys playing craps until his allotted funds run out. Lars barely knows how to play blackjack. For him the trip is more a chance to stay in a nice hotel, have drinks and a first-rate dinner, and see a show. They saw Cirque Du Soleil there last time. Wonderful stuff. Lars didn't mind the expensive tickets; these actors (or whatever they were called) seemed more physically intelligent and deserving than most pro athletes.
When they're in Vegas and Nils is throwing dice, Kyra is playing a little blackjack, and he is wandering around the hotel people-watching, Lars doesn't feel morally superior to Nils. He actually realizes Nils is in a way more mentally healthy, participating in a chancy life with joy while keeping in mind his finite budget for the evening. How balanced! It feels like a worldly Yes to Lars's No.
Kyra once said that Claude Monet, who gave Impressionism its name, was freed up to do more of his gorgeous work by winning a French lottery. It allowed him to quit his job as a messenger and paint. He won $13,000 and change. Lars makes more than that a month now, but Monet's winning ticket was in 1891. Lars has calculated that, if money doubles every twenty years (a conservative calculation), the equivalent today is close to a million dollars. If you use fifteen years (still reasonable) it's three or four million. Most people could quit their jobs to paint, with that.