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Friday, July 15, 2016

Thirty One Machines... of Death!

Day 9 - Part 2

You might recall in the Planning blog posts for this trip that I expressed reluctance to visit some of the more colorful locals places, not wanting to find myself a fish out of water in some backwater godforsaken run down excuse for a casino that sweats every nickel and is probably called something like Col. O. Positive's Leather 'N Chaps Punk Rock Line Dance Pool Room and Saloon.

And with that, I take you now to the Mardi Gras Hotel and Casino, which indeed has a free play coupon in the Las Vegas Advisor Member's Booklet of Rewards, and was only just renamed from Col. O. Positive's Leather 'N Chaps Punk Rock Line Dance Pool Room and Saloon.

For starters, my piPhone navigation app got completely confused and sent me on a 10 minute jaunt around a neighboring residential complex, complete with 999 speedbumps, satellite dishes rigged with twine and duct tape on every balcony, and featuring no car with all of its hubcaps.

I should have taken the hint that my karma around this place was bad.

Finally I found it, parked, and went in. This is the dinkiest 'casino' I've ever been in. First, I need to redeem the coupon, and that required a slot card.

The slot card required a slot club desk, and the slot club desk required a slot club Sheila, of which there was naught.

The empty slot club desk.
I finally found someone to ask about the slot club and I was told that the slot club Sheila was helping out in the buffet in back. No doubt stirring the 'extra runny' bread pudding to make it look fresh.

He wandered off out back, so I followed, and sure enough, he managed to round someone up.

She waddled back to the desk and took my ID, and started poke poke poke entering information on a touchscreen.

She tried to enter my license number and made a mistake.

"Umm 7 not 1... 7 there? not 1?"

"Huh? Oh! OK... sev-ven."

Poke poke poke.

"That last digit that should be a 4."

"It's close enough."

Hey if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me. She explained how the coupon worked. I had to play $10 and then I'd get $10 freeplay. I had to set up a pin and everything.

Great. I found the best of the bad machines in there and sat down behind a guy who looked like what a stray human would look like - marked up, bits of ear missing, and feral. He had some really weird hand gestures that he was using to try to coax a win out of his penny machine. I sat and played my $10, and then got my freeplay.

By the time it was played through I was about even. I poked along a bit and when I had $15 on the machine, decided to cash out and get the hell out of there. I hit the cash out button and the machine started playing the Happy Video Poker Orgasm Music.

I sat. I craned around looking for someone. I stood up. I sat down. I craned some more. I counted the number of machines in this God forsaken excuse for a casino. (31.) Finally someone walked by and I asked them what was up? Apparently every cash out is a hand pay. I finally caught the eye of someone who works there to signal for the Slot Club Handpay Sheila.

The guy right behind me said to me, "Hey - you two fives?"

I turned around. He was maybe 25 and had that jittery drugged out look, full of taut cheeks, completely shaved head, wife beater, and adorned with paperclip-and-Bic-pen homemade tattoos, made with shaky hands.


"You have two fives for a ten, right?" He held up a soggy, torn ten dollar bill. As he spoke, he displayed his parking lot bobby pin tongue piercing.

"No, sorry. I don't."

No fucking way was my wallet coming out of my pocket.

"Yes you do, give me two fives for a ten."

"No, sorry, I really don't. I put my last fives into this machine here."

He turned back to his game and waited. I took a picture of the room, for posterity.

"Show me your phone!" demanded the drugged out guy.


"Show me your phone!"

"Sorry, no, I'm not going to show you my phone." No fucking way was my phone coming out of my pocket.

"Why are you in here harassing me? Come in here, making fun of me, taking my picture? Show me your phone, you taking pictures of me?"

OK, now I sort of got it, he'd heard the photo click sound and assumed I wanted pictures of him, or maybe his misspelled speed death metal band Reichstone tattoo, complete with umlauts over all of the vowels, and the h, and the t.

I stood up, pushed my chair over and looked him in the eye and said, "I'll have you know, you little puke, that I have an Onyx belt in Feng Shui." Then I quickly righted my chair. I looked around the room and turned the chair about 15 degrees and moved it a foot to the left.

Actually, that's not right. What I really said was, "I didn't take your picture. I took a picture of my screen."

"Let me see your phone, you took my picture."

"Sorry, no, I didn't take your picture. I took one of the screen and that's all. Honestly, I just took one of the screen."

At this point, I hoped it was over.

"You shouldn't be harassing people sir. You shouldn't be provoking me."

He kept it up and to everything he said I said, "You're right..."

Finally he came out with, "Don't talk to me anymore sir, stop provoking. You shouldn't come in here and hassle people."

He turned back to his machine.

"You should know better. How old are you, sir?"

I ignored him. Five long seconds ticked by.

Five more long seconds.

"How old are you, sir?"

I sat silently, hoping he would give up. I didn't see any upside to pointing out that he'd asked me not to talk to him, and then followed up with a line of questioning around my age. No, no upside there.

Thankfully the Slot Club Handpay Sheila arrived. I got paid and was out of there. I felt lucky that I hadn't ended up with a sharpened screwdriver in the back.

Mardi Gras casino - it was nice knowing you. I'll never go in there again. Not unless I have my crew with me.

Another view of same.
My next stop was not far away - Ellis Island, named after the waypost where so many foreigners arrived to have their names written down wrong and make a new life in America (where the streets are paved with cheese).

The real Ellis Island is so famous that they put a big statue up there, since lots of people were visiting it anyway. They might as well have something to sell souvenirs of, right?

I thought the Ellis Island van license plate was very fitting indeed.

It says "IMIGRNT" - translated, "I MIGHT GRUNT".

I went through the rigamarole to get my card sorted out (had to get a new account, and thus, new sign-up bonuses), and the usual play some money, get the freeplay. Again I opted for Deuces Wild.

I lost on my $10, and lost on the first freeplay dollars. On the sign-up freeplay dollars, I was dealt this little beauty.

So tempting to go for the royal flush. If you ever have a situation like this, and you're not sure of the best strategic play, you can work it out fairly easily in your head.

There are 52 cards in the deck and 5 are gone. That leaves 47 cards. So, you have a 1 out of 47 chance of getting the royal.

A royal pays 4000 credits. Since you are going to get the royal 1 out of every 47 times, divide 4000 credits by 47 to get 85. So the statistical average value of the hold is 85 credits, compared to the 125 if you keep the wild royal.

You might also take into account that of the 47 cards three of them are deuces and you'd still get 125 credits. OK, so its 4000 plus 125 plus 125 plus 125, to only look at the big hands. That's 4375.

Divide 4375 by 47 and you get 93 for the average return. Still not even close to the 125.

Long term the best play is to keep the dealt royal with deuces.

Or, you can do what I do - text the Quad Queen to find out what the right hold is on WinPoker.

Yeah, I kept it.

Next stop was the blackjack table, where the $25 match play isn't really a match play at all. You buy in for $25, and the $25 coupon plays like money. The ancient pit boss working there was kind enough to explain it.

I pulled my personal bet back, but lost the coupon. I felt obliged to play a few hands, so I did. Maybe ten minutes worth. I dropped down to about $60 and worked my way back even, and cashed.

I was now one for eight on match plays. What a fucking gamble-star I was!

Back at the Deuces, I played a five dollar bill and cashed out $10. (Yes, I had plenty of five dollar bills.)

By hook or by crackhead, I'd made $40 at Ellis Island. And, all totaled up, I was ahead $120 on the coupon run so far.

More thrilling coupon book action to come!

The $1K Scrounge Trip - June 2016: All Posts

Planning the $1K Scrounge Trip - June 2016

Got Milk?!


    1. This trip has been fun - I've enjoyed it quite a bit. Although I think you went a bit far today with your coupon run through hell. If you need time away from risking your bankroll staying in the room watching Love it or List it has a much higher EV than getting bitten by a druggie so you can flip a $10 coupon. Stay safe!


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