When I was 18, my Dad took me gambling, in which I was a straight up newb. It was the first of a two-time event in which I learned just how crappy I am at losing money. Apparently, when the stakes are high, I can’t function, and when the stakes are medium, I’d rather be doing 15,000 other things.
To celebrate me graduating high school, the entire family went on a weeklong cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. And since we were on international waters, 18 was all the older I needed to be to waste money. To get my money-betting feet wet, my Dad traded in $20 for nickels, handed me the cup, and sent me on my way. Though in hindsight, I have no idea why he didn’t give me more direction. How can my Dad, AKA Wonk (which is actual nickname from his friends, BTW – mine is Bethaniel*), the same man who gave me a 15-minute lesson on pumping gas, not have better prepared me for gambling? He gave me the cup, and I spend the better part of the next hour pulling levers and pressing buttons.
Choosing machines the same way I choose sports teams – by names and colors – I made my way around the room without winning much of anything. Of course, now I know the way to win is by staying put. But this was my first time out, and I wanted to try each animal, TV show, and monster-themed machine.
Until I got bored; I’d gambled less than half of my 400 quarters. Next, I found Wonk, who was teaching (teaching!) my Mom craps, handed him my cup ‘o change and said, “This is boring.”
He laughed and said, “Good, that’s what I hoped would happen.”
Gambling Again … in Vegas
The next (and only other time I gambled), it was in Las Vegas. I spent significantly more time behind the slot machine, if nothing else than for the free drinks. My tactic was simple: get $20-ish in credit, and bid it away slowly while sipping free beverages. And people watching galore. (If Vegas is good for nothing else, you will gawk your rear off the entire time you’re there.) I even learned how to win, thanks to a little help from my friend Glenda the Good Witch and her magic point bubbles. Did I win big? No, I’m too conservative for that. But it was great entertainment and cost way less than bar drinks.
Have I mentioned I’m really cheap?
Other Things I Learned
- If you have a question, ask it. Dealers only think you’re an idiot when you do it your way and your way is wrong. It’s also best to learn during the day.
- Vegas does not understand the word “morning.” If you want to do something cool (AKA crowded), do it before noon.
- The Mob is terrifying/fascinating. What I wouldn’t give to get a safe insider tour of their scheming operations.
- Casino designers love crazy carpets.
- You can practice on your own to get really good (like through MobileSlots.net)
- A card dealer would be the best job ever: you don’t lose money, you get paid, there’s people watching every time you’re at work, and no one cares if you wear orthopedics (which I’m assuming are real comfortable).
- Seriously, why is that not my job? If this whole writing thing doesn’t pan out, you know where to find me. In the pits.
*No, I don’t want to talk about it.