Monday, August 4, 2008

Vini Vidi Vici

We made our way into the Rocky Mountains on Saturday to Black Hawk, Colorado, for a little bit of happy gambling... I use the term "gambling" because Steph and I were going up not for poker but for some simple together time, playing video poker and laughing at the ups and downs, just generally treating the losses as an entertainment expenditure.

Unfortunately, on this occassion more than any other, the ups were so scarce as to be nearly non-existent and no one was laughing. We fed the machines and they devoured our offerings like wild dogs. You could almost hear the growls as they competed with one another for our bounty. I could absolutely hear the ringing of the till as the money moguls snapped up our income and gave basically nothing in return... Sure, this is the end result nearly every time, but this particular time it felt especially cruel and empty.

We burned through all of the money we had taken for gambling and were standing outside, preparing to go to the car. But I had this nagging feeling. I wasn't done yet. Something was pissing me off about this entire situation and I just *had* to give them one more chance to make it right... At least let us make back some small portion of our losses and provide some sense of emotional victory.

Stupid? Yeah, absolutely. And it shouldn't have worked. It certainly shouldn't have worked so well... But more on that in a minute.

A pattern of addicted gambling? Close, but no. I don't mind losing, but I hate feeling raped... I just wanted to have *some* success, hopefully some fun at the same time, and walk away... I wasn't going to throw all of my resources at it. I wasn't even going to risk enough to cause any particular amount of pain, but I was gonna stretch the budget just a tiny bit more in the efforts of salvaging some small victory from a basically wasted day.

So I pull my personal funds (our earmarked sum for discretionary spending every month, noting that Saturday was the 2nd) from my wallet and I plug it (yes, all of it) into a slot machine that had been drawing my eye all day: Pompeii something.

Spin. Spin. Spin. Spin. Absolutely nothing. Another run of "all take and no give" from the gambling gods, until... "Spin.... Vini! Vidi! Vici!" I hit some bonus mode that gave 10 free spins and a relatively modest payout... Except for the "x5" multiplier that also came up, converting modest to "worth walking away with". Then, on the very first free spin, another "Vini! Vidi! Vici!"... This time I'd hit 4 (as opposed to 3) of the "scatters" and been granted 15 more free spins.

So I sit back and let the machine do its thing... Cranking through 25 free spins, even the small wins are worth hitting, since I'm not paying per spin anymore - but I'm actually hitting some really decent stuff here. Some quiet spins, but several $20, $50, and higher hits. I can't stop my embarrassed, "wow this was stupid and it's probably ultimately bad for me that it's working so well" laughter. But hey, now we're having fun. I'm doing a little dance in the seat as people gather around to find out why the machine's going so crazy.

Finally the machine calms down and a screen pops up telling us to hit "service" for a casino representative. Apparently they have to sign off on all wins deemed to be a "jackpot". So we wait.

When all the paperwork is done and we're walking to the car (you better believe I'm gonna take the win and walk), I have but one thing to say.

"Vini Vidi Vici"

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