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Haste Leads to Mistakes
by N.L. Preston

Video poker is my passion, for me that means $0.25 to $1.00 machines as often as I can get to a casino, and for as long as my husband will let me sit in front of a machine that he doesn’t appreciate. He’s a craps player and for the life of him he doesn’t understand my fascination. I practice on my computer at home. I subscribe to Gambling Times, Strictly Slots, and the other gambling magazines. I know that Video Poker success is more skill than luck than it is with the slots so I practice, practice, and practice. But in the heat of a $3,000 jackpot, I accidentally pushed the double up button.

The day started well. My husband asked me at breakfast if I wanted to go to the boat. I stared him in the eye and replied, “Maybe today is the day.” We have visited this particular boat since it opened about six years ago, but I had never hit a royal flush there; everywhere else, but never there. I count my royals and can name every casino and the time of day where luck, skill, and patience have combined to deal me that spectacular win.

Casino gambling is illegal in our state, so we drive a few hours to an adjoining state where there are three riverboats within an hour of each other. This day we followed our usual routine, boarded the boat, and headed for the high limit slots. Normally we invest $100 in the five-dollar slots then separate, me to play video poker, and he to the craps table. A wild cherry machine looked promising with its $25,000 top win. As I played jackpot lights went off around me, both machines to my left and right scoring for several hundred dollars each. A lady in the opposite corner hit for $40,000. My wild cherry machine didn’t return even one cherry for my hundred bucks. I decided to go to the lower level, and for whatever reason, my husband tagged along. I sat down at a $.25 double bonus poker with an 8/5 payout, usual for this particular boat. I put in $20.00 and it didn’t last long. Besides that the deal button was sticking so I had to touch the monitor to get my cards to deal. This slows me down and drives me nuts! I like to play fast which is the reason I found myself cursing the Video Poker gods, and myself, not too much later. My husband Robert got lucky first. He hit on a 10X pay dollar machine for a thousand. He collected his win and announced, “I’m hungry.” I protested, but in the end we went to dinner on-shore.

We got back to the boat around 7 p.m. ready for action.

My husband gave me a healthy pork chop, splitting his win with me. A pork chop is what we call it when one of us wins and shares the loot with the other. We were both in a good mood, a plus when gambling. I noticed that the progressive dollar Jacks or Better machine was at $4800. “Don’t waste your money,” said Robert, “it’s not ready to hit,” then left to check out the craps table.

I tried my favorite $0.50 double bonus machines at the very back of the boat. Nothing! I decided to try the triple play, double bonus. I usually don’t play these machines because they haven’t been kind to me, eating my money almost faster than I can feed them. I walked around and finally chose one on the end but still in sight of the dollar progressive. You guessed it. I heard a scream from the dollar progressive. A player had hit for the $4800. My former good mood rapidly faded. I cursed my husband mentally, however my machine was returning a little and I drifted into the “automatic zone” as I watched the slot attendants pay off the jackpot winner. My husband’s words about the jackpot not being ready were running around in my head and I wasn’t paying attention to my machine. Big mistake! The next thing I knew a message flashed across my machine that I had 12,000 credits. I was dealt a royal on the bottom of my triple play.

My luck struck and at the same time I was struck dumb! I had 3 royal flushes but in my automatic mode I hit the first button on the left, thinking I needed to hold my cards on the dealt royal. My haste led to my biggest mistake ever. I forgot that I was on a double-up machine. The machine did not lock up after the dealt royal. I was now looking at a double-up play for $6,000. Twenty-four thousand credits were flashing at the top of my screen. For some that may have been the correct play, that’s what gambling is all about: the big score. As for me, I had never hit a royal on this boat. The dealt royal on the triple play was $3,000 and that was my big score. I was not going to let it go willingly. The thought of betting my $3,000 royals against a 6 of clubs, my up card, was unthinkable. I just knew that lurking behind the other face down cards were a 5, 4, 3, and 2. I was appalled at what I had done.

The slot attendants were nearby and I called them over in a panic. I got loud, really loud, as I explained what had happened. My husband heard the commotion and came over. I explained that I thought I was hitting the hold button, not the double up.

The attendant politely listened then said, “I’m not touching that machine. I don’t know what to do.”

I replied, “I’m not the idiot who would bet that much money on one play, so I’m not touching a thing either.” We looked at each other. “I’m not pushing any other buttons to double up,” I declared, “so who else can I talk to? I did not mean to push that button!” I might as well have been speaking Greek. The attendant looked balefully at me and then at the machine. My husband, bless his heart, just looked on letting me handle the mess I’d put myself in. “Okay,” I said, “call a slot technician over here.”

The slot tech arrived and I explained my sad situation to him. At this point I was near tears. The slot tech decided to check the machine’s memory for whatever good that would do. I knew I had hit the double up. The dispute was my intent to do so. Anyway, the slot tech tried to open my machine but it wouldn’t open because I hadn’t picked a card for my double up option. I was in the middle of a play. After some more discussion the slot tech said, “You have to choose a card. Pick one, and it won’t count.”

“Oh sure,” I replied.

“No, really, it won’t count.”

I thought this over. Chances are that this lowly slot tech did not have the authority to allow this to happen. I looked at my husband who shrugged his shoulders. I looked at the other slot attendants who were standing there being noncommittal. “Gaming commission here I come,” I thought as I chose the second button.

The card was a queen of spades! My machine was now registering 24,000 credits since the queen beat the up card of a six of clubs. Now what would happen? I looked at the slot tech and whispered hopefully, “I’ll take that one.”

“You’re happy with that?” he said.

“Oh, yeah,” I said with a sheepish grin, feeling rather foolish.

Giving me a withering look he slammed the machine that was halfway open and removed his key. But wait, that wasn’t the end of it. The machine was still displaying a message that said, “Double-up?” And now 48,000 credits were flashing. My husband took my trembling finger and pushed the plainly marked NO button. My three royals started blinking at me and the machine blinked “jackpot.” I was ecstatic. Essentially, I had won $6000 by being in too big a hurry.

“You were lucky,” whispered Robert, pointing to the disclaimer posted above the machine which would have effectively ended any dispute, (despite the reassuring words of the slot tech), were I to have drawn less than a six. In bold letters it was made quite plain that I heaved a sigh of relief. That would have been me. Had my card been lower than the six up card, I undoubtedly would have been sadder, poorer, and indeed perhaps, infinitely wiser.

Video poker gambling gods, I thank you for letting me luck out on this one. In the meantime, I intend to slow down at the machines. Especially when my machine is flashing “jackpot.” I’ve learned to savor the moment. What’s the rush anyway? And in case anyone is wondering, the three royals I hit that day were numbers 23, 24, and 25.

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