Author’s note:? I’ve become very active recently in the storyteller community. I’ve appeared on several national shows — all via Zoom. I’ve won a few competitions, but have lost far more than I’ve won.
This story is about a video poker promotion which happened 24 years ago. Although a story is different than a regular blog, I hope my readers will enjoy it. It describes a variant about something many of you have experienced before.
Although it happened some time ago, the story is intentionally written in the present tense, as that makes for more immediacy in a story. If this were written for the page, I would have used past tense.
I’m also sure that many of you will find the actual strategy I used to be sub-optimal.
I open the door to the casino hotel suite at 8:30 in the morning on February 15, 1996 and hear, from my wife of two months, “Where the hell have you been?”?
“Um. Downstairs in high limit, where I told you I’d be. Which is the main reason we’re staying here.”?
“But didn’t you say you’d be right up to the suite?” I duck as a glass ashtray shatters against the wall by my head.
“Hey! Shit! We’re on the same team here. I said I’ll probably be right up. I didn’t expect to get a seat. But since I did, and they’re so valuable, I stayed.”
“Do you remember any conversation about a red negligee and some happy time together?”
“I do. It sounded like fun. Still does. I’m hoping for a raincheck.”
About eleven hours previously, Shirley and I are finishing up a Valentine’s Day dinner at a nice restaurant within Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas. The meal is free, of course, because we are invited guests to a casino promotion. I’m one of the best video poker players in the world, the casino is giving away the store, and I’m here to get my share.
Our plan is for me to play eight hours after midnight tonight on one of the few good machines. Beg, scratch, or steal to get on a machine. It might be tough because there are so many players and so few machines — and it is worth a lot. There are more than a thousand machines in the casino, but for the knowledgeable players, there are only a few that give desirable odds. I’m after one of those. And one of those only. ?
“I’m going to check out the high limit room before I head up to the room,” I told her. “I don’t expect any machines to be open, but maybe I can make a deal with somebody. Most likely I’ll be in the room in a few minutes.”
Shirley smiles and uses a low voice when she speaks. “That’s very good. Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and I bought a new red negligee, and I guarantee you’re going to enjoy taking it off of me.”
“Hmm. Sounds delicious! I’ll probably be up in a few minutes.”
When I get to the high limit area at 10 p.m., all the seats are full, as expected. The promotion won’t start until midnight, but players are there early to guarantee they would get their time in.
I know everybody. There are similar promotions every week and the initiated come back regularly. I say, out loud, “Anybody want to give up their seat now with a guarantee they’ll get it back at 8:15 in the morning? That way, you won’t have to play the two hours now that don’t count, and you can get a full night’s sleep, and will still get a machine. Plus, I’ll owe you a similar accommodation down the road.”
One guy agrees to the offer and I have a seat. I sit down and start investing.
At about 8:30, exhausted, I open up the hotel suite to yelling and a flying ashtray. I’m utterly astonished by her reaction. I have never seen her on tilt before. I’m sure we’ve talked about gambling promotions and their multiple permutations.
Shirley and I have been dating for a year and we’ve had several conversations about playing in various circumstances. She knows that I believe the casinos are giving away too much. If we can just keep taking what they’re giving, over and over again, we’ll be millionaires within a few years. We just have to juggle everything else around when the casinos are giving so much away. I really thought she was on board with this “repeat until rich” process.?
Shirley seems to believe that since it is Valentine’s Day, plus she has a new red negligee and has indicated she was warm and willing, that this should take precedence over our overall plan.
Turns out we both misunderstood the other.
If I had it to do over again, I’d do it differently. I’ll still play all night, of course. Getting shut out of a juicy promotion is too big of a risk to take. What I’d do differently is call Shirley and tell her what the deal is. There’s a pretty good chance that when I explain we can be together on the 15th and I’m really looking forward to that, she would have taken it a whole lot better than she did. I definitely screwed that one up.
We get through this and last 16 more years together. She never throws another ashtray at me, but I always alert for that and hope that if she ever does, her aim hasn’t improved any.