When it comes to gambling, my money gets royally flushed
June 3, 2005
I am blessed. But my luck sucks. The family and I drove to Las Vegas for the Memorial Day weekend. Nice drive. Walker Lake was glorious to see – like a colossal turquoise ring intended for the finger of Poseidon.
We stayed at the MGM Grand. What a place! Intimidating at first, and then within hours you know your way around like you were born there. People all over. A Grand Central Station in the body of a casino.
The first night, we had dinner – make that a sensational dinner – at Lt. Governor Lorraine Hunt’s Bootlegger Bistro. Oh my God. It was wonderful. If you haven’t gone, go! Lorraine’s employees bring a genuine pervading atmosphere of family to great Italian dishes. I better stop. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it again. Lorraine is a grade “A” class act, and her character and spirit transcend to her business operations outside of her state governing duties.
OK, where was I? Oh yeah. Luck. We don’t gamble per se. Ten bucks here. Twenty dollars there. Win fifty. Lose one hundred. My luck is so pathetic that even my wife doesn’t want me around when she plays the slots. If I ever tire of the newspaper business, casinos can hire me as a “cooler.” That’s it … I am one big “refrigerator.” Mr. Deep Freeze for anyone I stand next to while rollin’ dice, playing the cards, or arm wrestling with the slots.
For my first go of it at the MGM, my wife stood next to me for luck. I dropped four bucks into a dollar slot. On my fifth, my wife said “Aughhh!” The guy next to me said, “Aughhh!” I said, “What?” My wife said, “John, if you placed the maximum bet, you would’ve won $1,000.” I said “Aughhh!”
During our time in Vegas, I saw so many slot attendants go up to someone sitting at a slot machine and say, “Congratulations!” When they see me, they say “Thank you!” Yup! “Thank you Mr. DiMambro for being such a dummy and dropping your money in slot-shaped toilets for other people to win. Thank you very much and enjoy your stay sir.”
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Pllllll … It’s all too obvious to me that the name “Royal Flush” was coined with people like me in mind, only in our case the word “flush” means something entirely different than what was originally intended.
Once, at the Reno Airport, I was messin’ around with the slot that faces the staircase to the concourse for Delta. My daughter was sitting on the floor looking bored. We were waiting for a friend of mine from Upstate New York, but his flight was a bit late. Thirty dollars late for me.
Then, I wagered $10 more. Forget it. My daughter and I went upstairs and waited there for the flight to arrive. My friend appeared about 35 minutes later, and down the stairs we went. Each step was accompanied by a background noise of “ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.” Very pronounced. Too pronounced in fact. You know why? Because some guy was standing with a smile that arched over his face like a quarter moon turned on its side in front of … MY MACHINE!
My daughter said, “Dad, isn’t that …” “YES LEAH!,” I quickly interrupted. Then with more constrained calm, ” Yes honey … That’s the machine that … that Daddy was playing. Now, we need to go. Mommy’s waiting at home … She’s waiting for us … waiting at home now, so we need to, ah, go … home, now. Right now.”
What could I expect? I go to an ATM machine, and the receipt tells me that “I” owe money. Some people have it. Some people don’t. I don’t.
When it comes to my own money, even real estate and stock investments take a turn for the worse. If I, a working guy in the early 1950s, bought Coca-Cola stock back then, somehow I can’t help but believe that the world would be drinking only Kool-Aid right now, and that Coca-Cola would have been relegated long ago to just another failed beverage that came and went with the first half of the 20th century.
Man, I’m tired of hearing people talk about how much money they’ve made with stocks, real estate, and … at casinos. That gravy always thickened into a tar pit by the time it was my turn to cash in. And in that tar pit was me, lying beside the Dodo birds and saber-toothed tigers – animals that lost their wager to nature thousands of years ago.
Good thing I’m not a gambler. Just a onesie and a twosie type of player. And the worst kind at that. So bad is my luck that when I finally do hear the “ding, ding, ding, ding, ding” of a slot machine that I’m playing, it will probably turn out to be a fire alarm.
n John DiMambro is publisher of the Nevada Appeal. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.