Vegas, Day 4.

by A.J. Coltrane

Vegas, Day 4. Sunday. The last day of sports gambling before we fly out on Monday.

By Sunday morning I should be done placing bets. What that means is that I don’t have to focus on the games as intently, since I’ve already invested what I’m going to invest. It’s a good day to wander around so long as there’s a television nearby — we’ve been glued to seats most of the last three days.

-After breakfast on Sunday we walked a short distance to a “new to us” bar/casino. (Well, newly remodeled, and we haven’t historically hung out there.) The bar featured about 40 feet of big-screen TVs, end to end to end. That seemed like a good place to start the day, so we took five seats in prime real estate, inserted a not insignificant amount of cash into the video poker machines, and ordered adult beverages.

To backtrack a little bit:  The casinos have “Player Cards”. When you’re playing a game you put your card into the machine. The casinos track what you play, how fast you play, how much you wager — basically they’re figuring out how fast you’re bleeding so that they can determine whether they want to keep you around as a customer. They’re also determining if you’re worth freebies, and what the form of those freebies should take.

What we hadn’t done was to insert our Player Cards. We didn’t have Cards for that casino and we weren’t going to sweat it.

I started with a high risk/reward game and won $110 on my 3rd spin. I was pretty pleased with that. My plan was then to switch over to a more “normal” game, and if played at all conservatively I could drink for free for the rest of the afternoon..

Within a few minutes a small, polite woman appeared behind us, asking if we wanted Players Cards. Now, normally we’d have to go stand in line for our Players Cards, but we’d triggered something that got us “special attention”. It could of been how and what we were playing, or how much cash we’d dumped into the machines to start with, or it could have been the fact that all we had left at that point in the trip was larger bills, and we’d been passing them back and forth like Monopoly money and the cameras had picked that up. (That’s one of the beauties of Vegas — it always feels like Monopoly money eventually.)

So we got our Players Cards and continued with what we were doing. Maybe an hour went by, then this happened for the traveling companion on my right:


That’s 1,000 bananas. He was dealt that hand. The odds against that are 1 in 650,000.

Then three hours later, I was dealt this:


That’s another 1,000 bananas. At the same odds. The two adjacent machines spit out a whole bunch of bananas in (relatively) rapid succession.

We’ve been going to Vegas for around 20 years and playing a ton of video poker, and neither of us had ever hit the big payout. When finally each won it was within three hours of each other. Wild.

At that point, everything else was gravy. We’d basically paid for the trip.


On the Sunday basketball gambling I went 6-2 (again), bringing my total for the trip to 25-22. That’s a winning percentage of 53.2%. Break even is at 52.4%. I beat the break even by not quite 1%. Squeak!

Basically it broke out to:

0-6 (Thursday morning)

7-2 (Thursday afternoon/evening)

6-10 (Friday)

12-4 (Saturday and Sunday)

I’m ok with that. Thursday was a historically good day for the sports books and a bad day for bettors. Taking out the disastrous 0-6 start I won 61%, which is pretty good. I’d like to think I learned a few things again, and that I’ll do better next year. And we had fun long weekend on the cheap!

Of course, it’s not Vegas without an Elvis sighting:

No really! It's Elvis! I saw him with my own eyes!
No really! It’s Elvis! I saw him with my own eyes!

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