Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mystery Prize

The siren song of the Capay Hills called after the Woodland Thanksgiving dinner. Having travelled from Sacramento, we were 60% the way there already. Time for blackjack at Cache Creek Casino!

At the casino, it was slow-going before take off occurred. At one point I pulled ahead $400. But I blew that lead, and slowly sank into ignominious disgrace.

E. found the evening very upsetting. At one point, she won 15 free spins on her slot machine, and won 5,000 pennies during the 15 free spins - a pretty-big prize on the penny machines. Then the slot machine presented her with a dialog box, and posed three choices for her consideration:
  • Claim her winnings now;
  • Take a shot at winning another 15 free spins;
  • Take a chance at the Mystery Prize.
She repeatedly pressed the button for the first option, in order to claim her winnings, but the machine seemed to be defective - it wouldn't respond. She didn't want to take a shot at winning another 15 free spins - the odds seemed too long. So, very reluctantly, she tapped the button for the Mystery Prize.

Her $50 winnings vanished instantly - that was the Mystery Prize.

Shocked, she protested vehemently to casino management, who decided against her claim on the spot, arguing at one point that she couldn't have won the 15 free spins in the first place because her original bet was too low, and then, that if the machine was defective, she should have called the attendant immediately rather than tapping another button.

The odds are always stacked against you when you argue with casino management.

I've always been very impressed at the stoic endurance of gamblers in casinos as they suffer cripplingly-cruel punishments at the hands of fate. You see all these people, and you know many of them make hardly more than a minimum wage, and here they are, losing thousands and thousands of dollars, and they just smile rueful smiles and make rueful jokes. Admirable!

But it's a different story when the gambler feels that it wasn't chance to blame, but rather, that the gambler was actually cheated of money. Even if amount in question is just a quarter, it's a loss that's hard to bear when it was taken from you. Once in a while, you see a dark, broken, taped-off slot machine, where some outraged gambler had gone absolutely medieval with rage - the rage of having been cheated, rather than of having lost. Unendurable rage.

It's nearly an hour drive from Cache Creek back to Sacramento. E. wailed the entire way about the lost $50. She wanted to complain further to casino management, and blame her lack of English skills for the slip up, but I thought the effort would be futile - the entire casino was packed to the brim with English-challenged people, and casino management could hardly be selective about whose hard-luck story had more merit.

Returned by 4 a.m. Total loss for the evening, including E.'s stake: $603.

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