Breakfast for nothing and my gas for free

I have no problem with people gambling – in general. I do have a problem with people who gamble risking the rent, the car payment or food for the family. That said, I seldom gamble much – if at all – because I do not have the excess money to risk. Even when I have had excess money, the casinos have not made much money off of me, because if I start winning, I start putting money back in my pocket. And when I am loosing, I stop pulling money out of my pocket because I know better then to chase the “win that is coming, I just know it”.

One Sunday morning about 4am I awoke and could not go back to sleep. I finally got up and worked at my desk for about an hour before I deciding I was hungry. Not wanting to cook, and conveniently living in Las Vegas where you can get any kind of meal 24/7, I departed my abode in search of breakfast. Arriving a few minutes later at one of the locals casinos, I headed for their open 24 hour coffee shop.

                 

To those that don’t understand the difference between locals casinos (here after: LCs) and non-local or tourist casinos (here after TCs), I will explain a little more. Those that don’t care, feel free to skip this section. The TCs are located in the major resort areas like the Las Vegas Strip or downtown Las Vegas. The LCs are basically scattered around town away from the strip. The TCs are generally larger and the LCs are mostly much smaller. Some of the older LCs can fit – literally – in the gaming area of the mega resort TCs. Now, most locals hate going to the strip – except to work there – and so the LCs market themselves as locals friendly with easy parking. However, the TCs advertise that they have special deals for locals and so they are worth the trip. Both are full of ****. Parking at the LCs can be as bad or worse then TCs and many times getting to anything inside the LCs (such as bowling, bingo, buffets, shows, etc) is just as long a walk as the TCs. And the LCs advertise all over the USA and the world to get tourists in also. The purpose of the section of this rant – a casino is a casino is a casino, some are just bigger then others and some are located closer out to neighborhoods then others. Personally, if I have to go to a casino for any reason, a LC will be it.

The specific casino that I selected, because it is nearby and really small compared to many, has been around for like 25 or 30 years, maybe more. Plus they have a really good biscuits and gravy breakfast. By the time I had finished breakfast, tipped the service staff and paid my bill, I was out $8.50. In no hurry to head back, I wondered around the casino looking at the different machines. It is always amazing how many different names and themes exist for the same exact games. In one corner are machines such as mega-bucks and in the opposing corner, mega pennies. Yes, there are penny machines in many casinos. Of course, you have to invest a minimum of a dollar, you can not actually put pennies in a penny machine. Prior to the 2008~2010 gaming (as tied to the general economic) slump, penny machines were harder to find, one or two in a corner. Now there are entire sections of them and they are right out front. To the uninformed, playing pennies may seem like the way to go, however, many machines require max bets of 10, 15 or 20 credits at a time, so a dollar can vaporize in a matter of one minute. But I digress from the subject, which is actually rather common for me in ramblings.

As I walked around, I stumbled upon MegaBucks. MegaBucks is a 3 wheel slot machine system where numerous machines in numerous casinos are all linked together. A small portion of each wager at each machine pays into a central jackpot. The system works much like a lottery where every play can win a small amount or, if you hit the nearly impossible combination, you get the main jackpot which is always in the millions. Regardless of which casino you hit the MegaBucks, you get the central jackpot. This day, the grand prize was just short of $11 million. Because large jack pots are paid out over 20 to 30 years, you would not actually walk out with that much money. A few years back, the laws were changed to allow a 1 time cash payment, but the amount is always reduced to plus or minus half of the total. Then, Uncle Sam wants his cut of your hard earned wages, so kiss off another large chunk. As a round estimate, you will cash in hand about 1/3 of any really large jackpot. Of course all the relatives that come out of the woodwork will only remember you won 11 million, not netted less then 4 million. Sometimes, it might be better to win $100,000 or so, pay the taxes and not have anyone know you won anything at all. (Yea, another digression.)

This, naturally, reminds me of the joke that about a guy that won millions in the lottery. On arriving home, he loudly announced, “Honey, I hit the lottery. Start packing.” She gleefully responded with, “Where are we going? Should I pack for some place warm or someplace cold?” He advised, “Pack everything, you are out of here. I said I won the lottery not we won the lottery.” (Never said it was a good joke, but I like it.)

As I stared at the machine I pondered, a bit less then 4 million would certainly change my current financial needs. (And being single, I had no one to help pack their stuff.) There are smaller prizes and anyone of them might also be more then acceptable. For the first time in likely a decade, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a $10 bill to feed into the machine. This was a much as a way to kill a few minutes as it was a believe that I would soon join the ranks of the millionaires of society.

The requirement to win the millions is to line up 3 special symbols and then if and only if you bet the max amount – $3 you can pull a Johnny Paycheck, call your boss to tell him to “take this job and” ahhh, hire someone else. Depending on other combinations of single bars, two bars, three bars, cherries and other symbols, you can win anywhere from your bet back to 3 times, 10 times, 100 times your bet to, yea, the millions. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. I now have one, 1, single, uno credit left. Being unwilling to lose more money, I bet the one, hit some arrangement of symbols and won 10 credits. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. I bet the 3 max. Another win of 10 times my bet or $30, and now I have $34 banked.

I bet the 3 max. Nothing. $31 left. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. $28 left. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. $25 left. I bet the 3 max. Nothing. $22 left. I bet 2 – two. Nothing. $20 left.

I cashed out using the math in my head that I had invested $8.50 in breakfast, $10 in gambling and I just put $20 back in my pocket leaving me $1.50 to pay for gas to and from the casino.

Breakfast for nothing and my gas for free. And all without getting a single blister on my finger or my thumb.

John Carter
March 2010

Some may wonder why I wasted my time writing this story. That only raises the larger question of why I wrote any of the stories on this site. Just because. Just because.

 

And bysides – if you got this far and think I wasted my time writing it – YOU read it!!!!

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