We’ve all heard no one likes a sore loser. We’ve also heard that you should be a good winner as well. When it comes to games some people can barely control themselves. When it comes to games involving money…all bets are off.
With a little time to kill on my way home from St. Catharines today, I decided to battle lady luck at Casino Niagara. For some reason I’m still partial to the first one compared to Fallsview Casino, possibly because it’s where I had my first gambling success. (If you consider not losing everything you own a success.)
As it was a quick visit I thought I’d stay away from cards and go straight to the money takers: Slot Machines and Roulette. With $80 and a dream (and an excuse ready for when I came home $80 poorer) I set my sights on “my” first victim: The Michael Jackson penny slots.
This machine is a favourite of my girlfriend’s, so it’s got a spot in my heart when it comes to losing my money. I sat down, threw in $40 and started pennying away. You can bet anywhere from $0.40 to $3.20 per spin, with my theory being bet small as you’re losing, then gamble a big bet when you’re “due.” This works -47% of the time. After hovering around the $30 for about 10 minutes, the bottom dropped out, and I quickly watched my money evaporate into Michael’s high-kicking pockets.
There was no one around me while this was happening, but I still managed to act fairly human. My thought is if you’re taking money into a casino you have to be alright with losing it. I know the risks, and if I lose, hey, that’s what was probably going to happen anyway. 15 minutes into my visit, $40 lighter and halfway out the door, I Charlie Brown music walked over to the Roulette table.
For some reason I prefer the automated Roulette wheel. I don’t have to worry about chips getting in the way, and everyone gets a seat at their own screen. As I watched the wheel Hoover my money into it’s gears I looked around…a Dutch couple enjoying themselves, an older bespectacled man feverishly scribbling on his cheat sheet, and the guy next to me. Slightly disheveled, unshaven, and appearing to be slightly agitated. Whether this was his normal demeanor or it was something gambling induced I had yet to discover.
Don’t follow my gambling advice. I’m horrible and I’m still working for a living. But with Roulette you just play the odds and bet accordingly. Sometimes it works well. The first $20 did not. Black five times in a row? It should be red, right? Black another four times in a row. 9 out of 10 evens? Odd HAS to be next…nope.
Something changed after 00 cleared the table’s money…I started winning. Colors, rows, odds/evens, I couldn’t miss. I was coming out ahead $5-$15 with every spin. After a few minutes I was back up to the $40 I started with, then up to the $80 I’d brought with me. That’s when I realized the disheveled guy next to me wasn’t quite as lucky. You can pick that up with your Spidey sense when someone slams their fist down on a table.
I shifted my body just slightly, but enough that he couldn’t see I was making positive gains. I also made sure I didn’t display any outward signs of happiness. A neutral “I Am Here To Gamble” look dominated my face. Thankfully, I sometimes know when to quit while I’m ahead. After hitting the $120 mark I cashed out and headed towards the cashier’s window…
…only to be sidetracked by Micheal again. DAMN you Jackson and your money stealing music! I figured I’d play until I either doubled my money or dropped back to the $80 I had walked in with. Either way I was going to make my escape no more than equals with Casino Niagara. (Except for the parking fee, that machine NEVER pays out.)
As I approached the machines I noticed an older woman sitting in “my” spot. There are three machines, the other two were empty. I figured I’d just saddle up in one of the other two and we’d be good to go. At that moment she got up and moved over one spot. What I did next is something I HATE someone else doing to me…
It took every. fiber. of. my. BEING to sit down at the machine she had just left. She was literally seated right next to me, sideways watching me sit down and put my ticket in. I know what she was thinking, because I think it every time I’m on her side…
…when I lose all my money in a machine, I have to leave the area. I have to go somewhere else far away. I will not stand by and watch someone else saddle up and win MY money. Now here I was, doing that very thing to this sweet older woman, because it was “my” spot?!? I tried to make light of the situation…
“I’m sorry…this is the one my girlfriend and I play when we come.”
She replied sweetly “It’s alright, good luck to you, I didn’t have any.”
You should never root against yourself to win, but that’s the closest I’ve ever come. With a nod and a smile I hit the first bet, $0.40. Nothing. That’s when something inside me said “DO IT NOW”, and for some reason, I made the biggest bet. $3.40.
I won a bonus game on a max bet. Internally I swore and screamed at every nerve and fiber to stay completely still while I stole a glance at my neighbour. She didn’t notice. On with the show.
I won five bonus games, and with each game I won more money. $20 here, $35 there. As the last game finished up, she rose from her seat to leave, but doubled back to check on my progress…
“…oh, you hit the bonus!”
I have never felt so guilty in my life. It was like I was slipping my hand into her purse while I looked her straight in the eye and snarled “DEAL WITH IT GRANNY!”
“Well good for you.” And off she went.
And that’s the story of how I ended up at home $150 richer and full of guilt. I feel a donation coming on.