When you’ve been playing slot machines as long as I have, you become sort of an expert at observing the behavior of slot-machine players.
I’ve seen how a lot of players try to summon luck. I remember one woman just a couple of months ago who kept rubbing a circle around the video screen before hitting the spin button. Like, every spin.
A lot of players perform this or some other kind of hoodoo to make winning results come to the screen. Personally, I tap my thumb on the side of my head three times, while saying “shoehorn,” before every spin. Or before someone carts me away to be evaluated.
(Once, I tried to tap my head three times while saying “cheese fondue” before every spin, but that made me lose.)
I’ve also marveled at how players react when they manage to summon luck, jumping up and down, bleating out some variation of “WOO-HOO!” … You know, how those “slot influencers” act when they’re showing you a game on YouTube.
I’ve also made quite a study over the years of how players behave when they lose. Where I will occasionally mutter a curse word or say “Come ONNNN,” essentially pleading with an inanimate object to change its mind and let me win, I’ve seen some violent reactions from some players when they keep losing no matter how much they make circles on the screen while shaking a chicken neck before each spin.
Most people punch the machine. OK, I guess that blows off steam, even if it is stupid: “Make me lose, eh? Take THAT!”
I always thought it would be cool if you could put a rubber pad on the cabinet that makes a funny clown horn sound when you hit it. You know, diffuse the situation with a goofy “HAWNK.” Every time some guy would get mad enough to punch the machine, people around him would break out laughing.
Hey, I’m always thinking.
Occasionally, they’ll put a fist through the screen, as we saw when slot machines first appeared in the New York metropolitan area. As I understand it, there was a period early on where EMTs were routinely plucking shards of slot glass from fractured hands.
I never understood that, either. I mean, taking out revenge on a box with glass, wires and other assorted gizmos inside. The machine wins that fistfight every time.
I’ve witnessed violent reactions like these over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like what just happened in Texas. A woman had been losing for a while on one of the slot-like gaming machines in a Houston convenience store. You know what her reaction to losing was?
She set the machine on fire.
Seriously. The woman took out a can of lighter fluid—hey, who sits down at a slot machine without one?—and poured the stuff all over the machine, took out a lighter and torched it. Did a Jimi-Hendrix-at-Monterey on the slot machine.
But that’s not all.
There was a woman in the store who had been waiting to play the machine, and she got angry when the other woman torched it. As a result, she did what any reasonable Texan would:
She shot the other woman!
I swear. It didn’t happen all at once, but apparently, after the first woman set the machine on fire, she departed the establishment—in righteous indignation, no doubt. The second woman, realizing her planned leisure vessel was now a piece of burnt toast, followed the fire-starter out, and gave her “what for” in the parking lot.
An argument ensued, and in the time-honored tradition of how to end an argument in Texas, the second woman shot the first woman, who, at last check, was thankfully in stable condition.
Slot machines, and all other casino games, are illegal in Texas, but vendors get around that by offering “gaming machines” that pay out in tokens that can be redeemed for prizes or a small cash award. Play on the games is just like playing a slot machine.
And, evidently, just like losing at a slot machine.
Sooner or later, they’re going to legalize casinos in Texas. Lawmakers are talking about it all the time. When they do, as in all other casino jurisdictions, there will be more losers than winners. It’s how they keep the lights on. It will be the same in Texas.
We should be in for a rip-roarin,’ root’n-toot’n good time.
By the way, after all the New York slot-punching incidents, I proposed building slot machines with breakaway glass so punching the machine could be a safe experience.
No takers. There probably wasn’t enough breakaway glass in the country.
But like I said, I’m always thinking. •