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The jackpot dance and other rituals

4 November 2008

The first time my brother and I ever played video poker together, he took me by surprise.

Our dad was with us, and we were having family time, sharing the same game. The same player would make the draws until he drew a losing hand, then the next would take over.

It was my turn to play, and I was dealt three aces. Before I could hold and draw, my brother jumped up and started shaking his booty, shimmying, and back turned to the screen, pointed behind with both index fingers.

I snorted. "What was that?"

"That was the jackpot dance," he said. "You have to have the jackpot dance."

I don't remember if I drew the fourth ace on that hand, but I don't think so. I do know that I've since seen the jackpot dance hundreds of times since then. From the Midwest to the Las Vegas Strip, if any security operators were saving tape, the snippets could be compiled into the oddest music video you've ever seen.

On big hands, the wins are attributed to the jackpot dance. Losers seem to be quickly forgotten.

It's just for fun, of course. I know, my dad knows, and I think even my brother knows that the random number generator has no idea whether he's boogieing or not.

Nonetheless, he's not the only player out there with a good luck ritual, and I've collected a few stories.

Carmen: It used to be that whenever I got off the plane in Las Vegas, I'd head straight for a slot machine and spend my first roll of quarters. I'd carry rolls of quarters in my purse for the trip, and the first roll was always reserved for the airport.

I know the airport's not the best place to play and I can find better-paying slots, but it just felt right. It started as just being excited to be in Vegas when that was the only place to play, and then turned into a kind of superstition.

One time, I actually hit a $1,000 jackpot at the airport. That was the start of a great trip. I never even had to dip into the paper money I brought with. I used the other five rolls of quarters I brought, and a little of the jackpot money. I played and played and played, all slots, for four days straight, and came home with a nice profit. THAT was fun.

It's different now that you don't drop quarters in the machine anymore. I still play my first $10 at the airport, but it's different sliding money into a bill validator instead of cracking open a roll of quarters. A little less fun.

Alice: My first trip to Las Vegas, my husband and I stopped at a place called the Lady Luck. The first thing we did was sign up for their slot club, and they gave us each a keyring with this 2-inch plastic figurine one it. I don't know if she was supposed to be Lady Luck or what, but she was kind of homely — big-nosed and dressed in this awful yellow.

It was too big and clunky for my husband to use as a keyring. I carried mine around in my purse, but it wasn't practical to carry around in a pocket. But he unwrapped his and put it on top of his machine when he played video poker. Wouldn't you know it, he drew a royal flush, the first one either of us had ever hand.

Well, that did it. She became our good-luck charm. That was 17 years ago, and when we go to the casino, I carry both of them in my purse. We don't use them as keyrings. They're just our lucky charms.

Tom: I had a thing back when there were boarding times on the riverboats, where I had to be the 11th person in line. I don't really remember how it started, because I'm not usually the kind for lucky numbers.

I do remember waiting to get on the boat one day, and my wife counted the people ahead of us. She said, "You're number 11." I must have won that day, though I don't remember. But we developed this whole big ritual where we'd get there way early, early enough to be first in line to board. Then we'd hang out by the side, and move into line when I could be the 11th to board. When the ninth person lined up, my wife would jump in at No. 10 and I'd be No. 11. Or if a couple came in together as Nos. 9 and 10, I'd be 11 and my wife would be 12.

It would throw us off whenever a big group came in together at the wrong time. That happened once in a while. There'd be six people waiting in line, then this group of eight or 10 would walk up together. I never tried to get in the middle of the group or anything.

When that happened, we'd make a big production of "Oh, this isn't going to be our day, better keep our bets small." And then we would. We'd laugh about it afterward, but we probably saved some money that way."

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:

The Craps Answer Book

> 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