Those rare moments when everything goes right
By John Grochowski
Everyone has ups and downs in the casino—often in the same day, and sometimes in the same hour. The sting caused by losing a couple of $20 bills gives way to elation over even a mini-jackpot or a few nice bonus rounds. The thrill of a $1,000 royal flush is tempered by an attempt to parlay it into something bigger by moving to a $1 machine, accompanied by the quick loss of a couple of hundred.
Such is casino life. But once in a blue moon, there’s a day when everything goes right. A nice win on one machine is followed by an even bigger jackpot on another. Bonus rounds come early and often. The move to a higher denomination machine actually works.
Those are days that are firmly etched in our memories, times that have us telling stories to anyone who will listen.
Readers have contributed stories of their perfect days, and we’ll get to those in a minute. But first, I’ll tell mine, because I’m as excited by the memory as anyone.
For many years, my father Jerry, brother Jay and I took an annual trip to Las Vegas together. At the beginning of the 2000s, the first stop was Vacation Village, which until 2002 operated on Las Vegas Boulevard, a few miles south of the Strip area. The attraction was a spin of a wheel for prizes. Most times, I’d land on a $2 space and figure I had a couple of singles for tips. On my day of magic, I hit the big one: reimbursement of one-way airfare. I hadn’t even started playing yet, and I had $150 in dollar tokens plus three rolls of quarters.
Next up was the Tropicana, where we were staying. On the mezzanine level, the Trop had a bank of WMS Gaming multigame machines that had both a positive-expectation video blackjack game and the unique Multi-Pay Poker game that paid on every winning combination contained in a hand. Jay was interested in the video poker game, and he sat on my left. Dad wanted to play the blackjack game, and he was on my right. I flipped back and forth between games, explaining features to both of them.
On the poker game, I drew a royal flush, and that was an experience in itself. Not only did I win $1,000 on the royal, I also was paid for a straight flush, a flush and a straight—a total of $1,144. A little later, a slot supervisor came out to ask how I’d won such an odd amount on a non-progressive. I explained the multi-pay feature to her. She was unfamiliar with it, and sat down to play a little to satisfy herself this was really how the game worked.
Believe it or not, my day got even better. We went casino hopping, and I played mostly table blackjack, and did a little better than break even. After dinner, back at the Trop, I decided to, yes, attempt to parlay my winnings into something bigger, and it worked. On a $2 8-5 Bonus Poker machine, I drew a royal flush in spades. An $8,000 bonanza! A woman and her daughter who were a few machines down the row were so excited for me, they went to the gift shop and bought me a lapel pin of a royal flush in spades.
Pure magic. And others have relayed their magical days, too.
My wife and I were side by side, playing Double Diamond progressives, and I hit the biggest jackpot of my life, a little more than $20,000. My hands were shaking when I signed the tax form, believe me.
We decided then and there, that money was going home with us. We’d brought a couple of thousand to play with, and we’d keep gambling, but we weren’t going to touch that jackpot money.
We decided to take a walk and play some other games, and we did pretty good. We were playing Red, White and Blue, and we both hit the mixed 7s a few times. We didn’t get the big jackpot, but that was OK. We probably won another $800 between us. We played a few more games, and didn’t really win, but we didn’t give anything back, either.
Before we knew it, it was getting late at night, and we were still ahead on our original budget, not even including the jackpot. We decided to end the night at the Double Diamond progressives, back where we started. And I hit the Double Diamonds again! Another progressive, $20,000 more I couldn’t believe it. I still get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it.
A perfect day? Understand, for me a perfect day is having a good time, a nice lunch out, and not losing any money. As long as I get to play some bonuses, have some fun and about break even, I figure I’m ahead of the game.
There was this one time, though, playing penny slots, where I won at almost every game. It started at Goldfish. You know how it goes with that game, the bonuses all come by surprise. You just suddenly hear the music and a bonus starts. I got all the different bonuses. There’s the one where you get a starting credit reward in a bubble, and when the fish kiss the bubble, the prize grows. The goldfish kept kissing mine, and it got up into thousands of credits. Another one, you pick from a whole lot of bubbles. I got the one that awards all the prizes.
I got so many bonuses, I won about $200 on that machine, and for me, that’s a lot. But I was just getting started. My friend said she like the Buffalo game, so I decided to try, and got those Buffalo stampeding on the screen. I won another $300 there. Then I went to Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I love that movie. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it. By now, I was feeling so good I’d have been happy just to pet that cat a few times—that’s one of the little bonuses. But I won a progressive there, and that was $113!
We kept moving around, and I lost $20 here and $20 there. Whenever I lost $20, I moved on. I had some other wins, too, and when I counted it up at the end of the day, I had $550 more than I started with. So having some fun and breaking even is a perfect day, then I guess that day was just out of this world.
My wife and I were in Las Vegas, casino hopping on the last day of a trip. She played Monopoly, and went to Park Place and Boardwalk on the same turn. I played video poker and got four of a kind two hands in a row.
At the next place, we both won little progressives. Hers was on Cash Express, mine was on Fort Knox, and between us I think we won $250. One more stop, and I played Jackpot Party, and had one of those good rounds where you get 10 or 12 prizes before the Pooper comes up.
It was getting close to time to go to the airport. She went to the bathroom, and I reached in my pocket and found I had three loose quarters. I put them in a three-reel game—I don’t even remember what it was—and took one pull. That pull was three 7s, and I won a $200.
We had winners everywhere we went that day, and wound up taking an extra $600 home. For one day, everything went right.
This was a park district bus trip to a river boat. My girlfriends and I called it the Magic Bus, and it was magic that day. My girlfriends all play slots, but I like video poker. They have the Double Double Bonus Poker there.
My very first hand I was dealt four aces and a 4. I didn’t even need to draw. That was $500 to start with, so it was going to be a pretty good day whatever happened after that. Within half an hour, I had a couple of more four of a kinds, the smaller ones that pay 250 quarters. Then it happened. I held ace, jack and 10 of hearts, and up came the king and queen for a royal flush and $1,000.
I kept playing, and was going down little by little, but maybe 45 minutes later, I held two aces, and got the other two, no kicker this time. Then I held three 2s, and got the fourth 2 and a 4, so that was worth another 800 quarters.
By now it was time to break for lunch. We got the buffet as part of our trip. Then we had another hour to play before we had to get the bus back. I went right back to the Double Double Bonus, and I got another royal! Clubs, this time, I kept ace-king-queen-10 and drew the jack.
I had my stories to tell on the trip home, let me tell you. I won almost $3,000. Magic Bus is right!