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More first-time casino experiences

8 July 2008

It seems my request for first-time casino stories has struck a chord. The stories keep on coming, so let's share a few more:

Pat: I have to tell you about our first Vegas trip. We didn't make the trip to gamble but rather to see Elvis at the International. What an experience that was! And what an eye-opener coming to Vegas was. We were from very conservative families and no one that we knew well gambled. They certainly didn't go to Las Vegas. The fact was, it was considered very outrageous among our family and friends.

We stayed at the Westward Ho since we were a young married couple and could afford nothing else on the Strip. Once we saw the lights, tried our hand at the machines and, of course, saw Elvis, we were hooked. There is certainly nothing else like it. We have been back frequently ever since for the machines and tables — yes we learned how to play them all over the years. Our favorite haunt, the Stardust, is gone but we continue coming back. There is absolutely nowhere in the world like Las Vegas. We have been to many different gambling places since but nothing else can compare. Elvis brought us to Vegas but the thrill has kept us coming back

Jack: I was an aviation mechanic in the Navy in 1969 and prior to a Vietnam tour, our F-4 Phantom squadron was sent to do bombing practice in the desert, which is no longer practiced because of obvious environmental issues. We headed to Fallon, NV and after a few days of practice, the CO gave us a three-day weekend and provided transportation to Reno.

Finding the first casino and having my whole month's pay in my wallet ($138), I started to play blackjack and drink. Considering I was 19, I wasn't very good at either. I was, however, lucky. After about three hours (and about 10 7±7's) I was up about $200 and floating on a cloud.

Eventually, I started making bonehead plays and said to the dealer, "Why did I do that?" Quickly she replied, "Because you are drunk, sailor. Would you like me to play your hand for you?" I said, "Sure."

The pit boss came over and watched as I had another drink and was told what to do with my hand by the lovely lady. As chips turned from white to green to black and accumulated in front of me, I realized I had more money in my possession than ever before. Every once in a while, Hanna (the dealer) would say, "OK, Jack, time to tip the dealer" and I would push some chips (she told me how many and what color) to her.

Finally she said, "You are up a bundle and the cards have turned. If you stay you are going to lose what you won and I worked too damn hard for that to happen. So, why don't you call it a night and go home a winner?" Despite my wanting to win more, I took her advice and fled with my winnings. Now, whenever I get up a few hundred, Hanna's words get me looking for the first sign of a losing streak and I walk away.

My first night gaming netted me $600 and probably over $100 for the lovely Hanna (she tipped herself well). The next morning, we went to tour Carson City and the "Bonanza" set where I explained to my shipmates that "If you want to win at blackjack, you have to know how to play the game and concentrate on your cards." Considering the roll I was carrying and the fact that I paid for their trip, they believed every word. Thank you, Hanna, wherever you are. You are still my favorite dealer.

Paul: Let me tell you about my first trip to a riverboat casino. I'd been to Vegas several times since then, and was looking forward to being able to play closer to home. This was at the Empress in Joliet when it opened in 1992, and they had just one boat. It was small, with low ceilings, and too smoky, and what little food service they had was in temporary tents — the permanent pavilion hadn't been built yet.

Going to Vegas, I used to carry a roll of quarters with me on the plane, and I'd play that first roll at the airport. Nowadays I'd set off the metal detectors, I suppose. I decided I'd so something similar on the boat, carry quarters on with me and play the first quarter slot I saw, then take a look around afterward. I was fiddling with three or four dollars worth of loose quarters in my hand while we were waiting in line, and sploosh! I dropped them all over the floor.

My wife helped me pick them all up, but I was ready to play — or so I thought. When we got to the machines, they didn't fit. I didn't know that you couldn't use real money to play. You had to use special casino tokens.

Once I got used to it, we had fun anyway, and have been back many times.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski