Monday, December 18, 2006

I guess I will soon be working around casinos again. It is a job, but certainly not the excitement it used to be.

I have always been superstitious about “fruit” slot machines. Today there are hundreds of types of slots and they are all themed out to the max. I have even seen slot machines themed out with classic television show icons. You can play “I Dream of Jeanie” slots, “Munsters” slots, but back in “the day” the standard was the fruit slot. Various kinds of fruit would show up on the reels to indicate the level of your win or loss.

Years ago I was at Harrah’s Tahoe Casino working and bored. On the way to the coffee shop one afternoon I see an old fruit machine in the middle of a row of new themed out machines. I get five bucks of quarters and decide to play. Three dollars in, I hit three plums, that is a thirty- dollar jackpot. I pocket twenty-five and play again.

Within three dollars or about 10 plays, I hit three plums again, another thirty dollars. With a win of fifty-four bucks on a six-dollar investment I walk away.

The next time I am walking through the casino I pass the machine again and decide to press my luck. Three dollars in I hit three plums. Thirty more bucks. Every time I play that machine it will hit three plums within 12 pulls. Well, I know that it is not my luck, but a mechanical blessing. To hit the same jackpot consistently defies all the odds a casino is built on. The decision now is how hard to milk my new found cash cow?

Casinos keep tabs on everything especially money going out. If a machine pays out too quickly it will alert the management that they may have a defective machine. So I decide that three wins a day will be my limit, a hundred bucks a day will not alert the goons. So for the rest of the week I use this slot machine as my personal ATM.

One night I see workers replacing the carpet on the far side of the casino. They don’t close the casino, just the section they are working on at the time. They move all the slots and tables from the section rip up the carpet, replace it, move the machines back and continue on. They are doing this 24 hours a day.

By the next day they are half way across the casino. I notice that they are putting the slots back in a different order, and pattern. I realize that if they put “my” machine in a different place I will never find it again. Being a fruit machine in a row of lucky sevens is the only thing that distinguishes my machine from hundreds of other fruit machines. If it is in a different row it will be lost. I start playing the machine with a new sense of urgency.

My three wins a day become three wins an hour. I am trying to second-guess how much I can win without triggering attention. It is a time consuming process. Feed the quarters 12 times, collect the winnings, fill the bucket, take it to the cage, cash it in for paper money and head back to the machine. The carpet layers are getting closer and closer, I am playing harder than they are working and finally they arrive at my section. The machines are moved into a clump and replaced after the new carpet is laid, and just as I thought, the lucky machine is lost forever.

I spend a day or two and 30 dollars looking for it again, but never find it. Flush with my winnings I decided to learn to play Baccarat. It is an expensive game, but fun when playing on Harrah’s money. It is the only game I know where you can lose all you have on a hand and still owe money. It is called “commission to the Banco”. Every time you bet on the bank and win they charge you a three percent commission. They collect commissions every time they shuffle a new shoe. I slowly lose all the money I won from the dysfunctional slot machine learning to play Baccarat. I retire from my Baccarat career with my original five-dollar investment in hand. After two weeks of being up several thousand dollars I am back dead even.

Money never really leaves a casino; it just gets moved from one game to another.
As you were,


the other one said...

I think our grasp on money is temporary. We're not meant to hold on to it. It just moves from place to place. At least that's my experience.

Good luck on the casino work. Some advice though...stay away from the tables and don't go over-time on your set!

Greg Victor said...

Ca$ino$ are everywhere now. Are you going tribal, or will you be in a room with public shareholders? I only ask because today I accepted a job in Las Vegas and am curious if you'll be in the casino capital too?

PS: Your astute writings are required daily reading for my brain. Please keep it up!

Michael Andreas said...


I'm so sorry not to have been part of this group over the last month. As soon as I got back, I got involved with the L.A. Ballet... and have only come up for air this week...

I just read everything from the cancelling announcement up to today's posts and it all came flooding back... it is such a wonderful show... you are wonderful, Paul, Murphy, Lori, the rest of the crew... I can only guess at the emotions you've all been going through over the last few months.

Take the break you may not have wanted, but so richly deserve and then... on to the next adventure,

Love to all & wishes for a fulfilling, enlightening, health filled and PEACE-FILLED New Year! Oh yeah... and Merry Christmas too!