Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The slots

How I lost ten bucks on "I Dream of Jeannie"

    Over my lifetime I’ve lost, maybe, $50 gambling. The Courier reimbursed me $20 that I lost while researching a piece on carnival games. I would’ve rather had a Pulitzer.

More recently, I lost a $10 gift card in a drawing that I instigated at a party. I lost a dollar to Virginia on a bet that Freeman would buy us all some ice cream. I bet that he would.

Mom and Dad never had to tell us not to gamble. While God was remiss in having “gambling” mentioned in scripture, preachers have helped out by making it an “inferred commandment.” I have heard so many sermons against the evils of alcohol, loose women and cards that I’ve pretty much stayed away from liquor and poker. I still struggle with the loose women thing, though.

I say all that to say this, a couple of weeks ago, Kay and I met a couple of friends of ours from Arkansas at a casino in Louisiana. Sharon and David have been telling us about their trips to Coushatta to play the slots. They allow themselves a set amount of money to lose. On occasion they come home with a surplus.

Our friends talked of cheap food, great lodging, free drinks and penny slots. Two of those things sounded pretty good to me – The food and the hotel rooms. S and D said that their rooms usually don’t cost ‘em anything ‘cause they’re valued customers at the casino. You see, the more money you’ve spent gambling, the more the casino wants you back, so they entice you with a free room.

Since Kay and I hadn’t taken even a short trip in about three years, we agreed to meet the Arkansans at Coushatta for a couple of days. And, what an experience it was.

The stories of free rooms and cheap meals, did not apply to Kay and me ‘cause we were enigmas. The casino had to evaluate our propensity to gamble. Don’t get me wrong, the food and the room were what you’d expect to find at an expensive place, ‘cause it was an expensive place.

But, the slot machines? Well, that’s an experience. After Kay and I registered at the casino, we were each given a card that allowed us to play the slots and gave us five dollars each to start the action. Sharon was my mentor while David adopted Kay.

Sharon picked out one of the “I Dream of Jennie” penny machines and stuck my card in the slot, which was just slightly painful ‘cause the card was attached to lanyard around my neck. The machine had about 20 weird genie icons on the screen and I couldn’t make head nor tails out anything.

After inserting my card, Sharon said, “Okay, pay attention, here’s what you do.”  She then punched two buttons and before you can say the “I’ve” in “I’ve been robbed!”  the machine let me know that I had just lost my $5 casino beginner-money in one try at a PENNY MACHINE!

Sharon told me that she had accidentally hit the “10 Cents” button followed by the “50 Rows” button, and that none of the 50 rows had a match. I would’ve gotten as much out of that had she said it in Latvian.

Sharon cautioned that “I” needed to be more careful next time. Then she said, “Okay, give me $5 cash and I’ll show you the right way to do it.” And, do you want to know what’s crazy? I did what she said!

Bottom line, Kay and I agreed that we would lose no more than $40 total… which we did. That doesn’t count the $5 we each got from the casino to start us off. For whatever reason, I didn’t enjoy the experience of letting a machine determine whether or not I was going to win something. Push a button and arrows are going all over the screen and I discover I won 10 cents on a five cent bet. Next time I lose. And the next time… I pretty much developed a rhythm. Sharon dragged me to different machines, but none of ‘em liked me.

The following morning, on our way to breakfast in the casino, I saw a guy all scrunched up in front of a slot machine. There were three people sitting in the area, so I decided not to check on him. I thought he was suffering from a crippling disease, so I instantly said a prayer for him. A prayer is a gift I too seldom give.

While I was eating my $12 serving of eggs, bacon and toast, I mentioned the slumped figure at the slot machine. Sharon said, “Oh, he’s just been up all night and doesn’t want to lose his machine.” I figured the prayer was still warranted.

Yes, an interesting experience it was. At least I got an article out of it. I’m tempted to send an invoice to the newspaper and see if Andy will reimburse me. I’ll bet you $40 he doesn’t.

Oh, well, who knows, maybe Kay and I can get a free room next time. I don’t know how much $40 goes to making you a prized customer, but I assure you, it’s as prized as we’ll ever be. Can I hear an “Amen!”


1 comment:

  1. Good one Moke. I've been to Las Vegas many times, and it can certainly be addictive. -- jilly --