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Rites and rituals of casino players30 October 2014
There was my brother Jay and his jackpot dance that no doubt kept surveillance operators amused. There was Carmen, who had to play her first roll of quarters at the airport on her Las Vegas trips, back when machines actually took quarters. And there was Alice, who placed her lucky troll keyring atop the machine while she played.
Since then, I’ve heard from more players who insist they’re not superstitious, but still …
Zachary: I’ve always been a table games player. My dad was a craps player, and while I didn’t really follow in his footsteps there, he taught me the rules of blackjack when I was quite young. So I’ve played mainly blackjack ever since I’ve been playing in casinos.
I learned my basic strategy, and I know the odds are set by math, but I have a little good-luck thing I do anyway. I like to get to the casino right on a shift change. If I’m a few minutes early, I’ll just watch until the new crew comes on. Then I’ll go to a table – all the tables here use six decks – and watch the dealer open the new packs of cards, spread them out so we can see all the cards in each deck, then smush them around and around on the table before finally bringing them back together for a shuffle.
Really, I just do that at home. When I’ve gone away to casinos, I just play whatever games are available and don’t worry about the fresh cards. But at home, where I know I’m going to play in one place and I know when the shift changes are, it’s just a really comfortable feeling for me to see the new cards.
Rosemary: I played in bingo halls for a long time before I ever played in casino. You know how bingo players are. We have all kinds of good-luck charms – lucky shirts, lucky hats, lucky markers, lucky stuffed animals.
The first time I played on the slot machines was after playing a bingo session, so I had all my bingo stuff with me. My friend showed me a keno machine. That seemed pretty easy, not too far away from bingo. So I put a quarter in and picked six numbers, with my birthday, my boyfriend’s birthday and my mother’s birthday. Wouldn’t you know it? Five of the six numbers came up, and I had a pretty good pay.
I still take my bingo stuff with me whenever I play the slots. My very luckiest piece is my Elvis dauber. I wouldn’t be without that. When I can play an Elvis slot machine and put my Elvis dauber on top, that’s when I feel really lucky.
Quinton: This might seem strange for a casino player, but I really don’t believe in luck. I mean, there are streaks when you win more than you should, and I guess that’s lucky, but I don’t believe there are lucky people who win more than the odds say on a regular basis, and I don’t believe rituals can change your luck.
For all that, I do have a ritual. I’m a craps player, and when I was learning to play, my buddy told me about charting tables, going around and seeing where people were winning and where they were losing. I don’t think that ever did me any good, but old habits die hard.
Before I play, I walk around the craps tables, and if I see one where everybody has a lot of chips and they’re making some noise and looking like they’re having a good time, that’s where I play. It might not make me win more, but playing with guys who are having fun has to be a good time, right?
Marlene: I have a little video poker ritual. Maybe it doesn’t make any sense, but I do it anyway. Instead of pressing the “max bet” button right away, I press “bet one,” and I press it one, two, three, four, five times. That gives me my five-coin maximum bet. I only do it on the first hand, and then I go to “repeat bet” after that, so I’m playing five coins all the way.
When I get into a losing streak, then I go back to it – one, two, three, four, five. It’s kind of like pushing the reset button, only to change my luck. I don’t know about really changing luck, but it feels right to me.
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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