Saturday night was date night. We use to hang around watching movies having a few glasses of wine. Life never stay the same, and change is inevitable. In the famous words of Tyler Durden from the movie Fight Club, “It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we’re free to do anything.”
The casino-craze is full bloom in my neck of the woods, and I’m sure you’ll have plenty of opportunities to venture out as well. We used to go out and she’d play a little blackjack, and after an hour or so, we would get in the car and head for a late night bite. I guess it sounds like a million folks who spend their recreational dollars gaming. I have always dis-liked the sanitized word “gaming.” It’s kind of like playing a video game when we were kids. No harm, no foul, just be sure to get your homework finished. For years, we used to visit tracks, play in tournaments, and see the big races. Keeneland, Churchill and toss in a few visits to Turfway Park for the marquee days. I’ve always been a horse player, and she loved the action as well. Close beats, nice wins, and even the bad days gave us something to bitch about over dinner. But, it wasn’t quick enough anymore. Playing on the quarter video poker machines turned into five and six hour sessions hammering the kids college money into the bill acceptor.
I’ve seen plenty of gamblers in my years in racing. Some good, some bad, and others that defy logic. – We used to play the ponies together. I was brought up with a love for the races, and her family used to live close to the track. She said the lights would shine so bright for night racing that it would keep her up as a kid on school nights. The track was in both of our lives, and it was one of the many wonderful things we had in common. Casino games have always interested me, and I love to watch. Oh, I’ll plunk down a few here and there, but I have enjoyed watching anyone do something they’re good at. I find myself at the craps tables sipping on a bottled water. I don’t know if that makes me a voyeur, but I sure enjoy watching the big money chips coming and going as the players decorate their bets with odds. It looks like Wall Street on the trading floor orchestrated as organized chaos.
She has slowed down quite a bit, and that usually happens when money gets tight, or a hard lesson has been learned. Her play for the year still gets free rooms, comp dinners, and special invites. Casinos target players with laser precision. I used to work as a player development manager. Think of this job as the person you see when you need something at the track, or the people who design trips and special events. There was no handbook, and I learned as I went along. My boss was savvy enough to turn me loose, and give me plenty of rope. He knew gambling was my muse, and being around the action was sometimes better than betting. If there was a better fit for the job, for the first time in my life I didn’t know of a better qualified person. She asked me, “How do I get more with less trips ?” Now that’s a question for the ages, but in reality it’s pretty simple. ” I said you go three to four times a week, and they give you comps. They look at you as high frequency/medium value. They know they can’t get many more trips from you. Why don’t you try going once a week, and playing the same amount?” They’ll look at you as low frequency with high playing potential. This will get their mouths watering, as they figure you’re elsewhere and they’ll want you back for another trip or two a week to keep the handle growing. PRESTO! She started getting mega-offers, and she loved the attention.
This past weekend she asked me to attend a high-rollers dinner accompanied with a concert. I agreed, as I enjoy being with her and the people watching would be worth the price of gold. We were treated to a hoity-toity meal, that was super. The host was swell spoken and made sure he prefaced the evening with wanting us to enjoy the show and have a night away from the casino. If this was true, why did we all meet at the casino and take a shuttle limo to the dinner? The idea was to get everyone comfy, and take them back fed and happy and turn the best players lose later in the evening. Not a bad idea if I say so myself.
We could choose any table in the private room we wished, and it was by luck of the draw we ended up at one of the best tables a voyeur could land. – Next to me was a high power real estate gent, and he was showing pictures to everyone at the table his three biggest jackpots. They were over $150,000, and two came on one day. He told stories of how he had four $25 slot machines going at once, and brought gals from the office to pull the levers. He had to wait for 15 minutes as casino staff was slow getting paying him on three jackpots that had the machines locked up. On the other side was a cute couple. She was with child, and chatted with my gal. I guess it was girl talk as he played on his tablet. “Ed, who do you like in the U.C./Nebraska basketball game?” – “I don’t follow much, but an old friend is the head coach. I said he always gets them to be their best when they play ranked teams.” He went back to the tablet firing away, and didn’t look up for about 30 minutes. At the end of the night he wanted to take us to dinner as his bet covered easily. There was a well-dressed gent from India who was accompanied by his Mother. He talked for what seemed an eternity. As he gabbed, I drifted off mentally and guessed he was a high money slot player. Just as I awoke, he was telling a tale of how he won over $300,000 in Indiana and Ohio last year. I think I had about $50 in my pocket and listened as his drabble started going in circles.
Later in the evening, we ended up at the casino. She played a small amount and won about $100. “Let’s go back to the room, are you ready?” As we walked to the car she asked me what I thought about dinner. “Oh, it was great, and the place was nice,” I responded.”No, I mean the people. What did you think of our table, wasn’t it nice?? ” She asked. “I guess. -If you like liars, you would’ve loved the seats.” She didn’t understand, and thought I was uncomfortable. “Big gamblers who brag as they were doing are usually liars who only tell half of the story. Big fish want to drift under the radar and don’t go to events like these. I know the biggest horse player in the state of Kentucky, and he doesn’t give interviews or talk shop. He seldomnly gives out his best plays, and has about ten of the top trainers in the country on speed dial. He tries to buy his own dinner, which the track always picks up the tab as a token thank you. He’s a player, and the big bettors aren’t loud because they don’t have to be.”
She listened and asked a few more questions as we neared the room. The million dollar statement came rolling from her mouth. “I want to start going back to the track with you. It’s more fun, and I don’t feel like I’m as tired when I leave.” She has come full circle. Horse racing allows you to enjoy your evening. Notice I used the word gambling instead of gaming? Racing has never been shy about players enjoying a bet and gambling on the ponies. Casinos are here to stay, and they’re a neat form of gambling. But for this punter, give me sometime off and my E-Z Win Forms, and I’ll have a great night no matter the outcome.