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Words from experience

28 May 2017

Ten or 12 years ago, I took a park district bus trip to a casino, figuring I could get an article or two out of the experience.

On board I met Mel and his wife Alice, a couple then in their 70s who got their first taste of casino gambling nearly 60 years ago. Mel had learned to play craps in his Army days, and that was his main game for decades.

“It used to be that a good trip meant I won thousands on the dice,” Mel told me during the bus ride. “Alice was off playing nickel slots, and I’d look for a hot table. We’d have a nice dinner and see some shows – those were fantastic times.”

Mel has e-mailed me from time to time since, and he rarely plays craps nowadays.

“Alice has turned me into a slot player,” he said. “Some of it’s Father Time. I can’t stand for hours on end at the dice table like I used to. Some of it’s budget.

“Some of it is that you can play so often now, too. When I was betting big at craps, we were going to Las Vegas once or twice a year, just for a couple of days. That was it. We were playing two, three, four days a year. Now we could play every day if we felt like it.”

When we exchanged e-mails in April, I asked Mel if he had any tips from his 60 years of play, and words of wisdom he could pass on to younger casino-goers.

“Don’t give it all back is the main thing,” he said. “The second thing is not to push things trying to win it back after you’ve lost it.

“Man, the things I used to see at dice. There was this one guy, he was the top of the world. He kept betting up and he kept winning. He was betting $5 on pass, then $10, $20 with odds – just single odds then. Even double odds were a treat. When he had that black $100 chip on the line with more black on the odds, I thought, 'Wow!' I’d been on some good rolls and sometimes had more than $100 on the table, but not on one bet.

“He had to be up tens of thousands of dollars, and then he started betting crazy. Hardways and yos (11) and all kinds of things. He’d won playing pass, come, odds some 6s and 8s, but I don’t know if he thought he couldn’t lose or what. He started betting all these props for big money.

“You know what happened. He lost it all. Gave it all back. 'Going on tilt,' they used to call it. When he started losing, he couldn’t stop himself. He kept betting bigger.”

I asked Mel if he ever went on tilt.

“No, no, I knew better than that, thank goodness. I liked to play, and I liked to give myself a chance to win big. But I always knew that when the losing started, it was time to slow down. If I was winning, I wanted to protect my winnings. If I was losing, I wanted to keep the losses low.”

And today, on the slots?

“Alice and I don’t bet enough to go on tilt. We play pennies mostly. Alice won a $2,000 jackpot once on a penny slot, a progressive. But I can’t remember the last time we lost more than $100 between us.

“It doesn’t get the adrenaline running like craps used to, but we have fun.”


Look for John Grochowski on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski