Vegas #1: The Roulette Story

I just got back from a weekend-long trip to Vegas. It was my first time there, and I have a lot of thoughts about the city and the experience, so this week I’m going to devote an entry a day to Vegas (within the constraints of the normal categories of this blog: guy talk, management, pet peeves, and so on).

Today’s is personal.

Last fall, I shared what was one of the toughest confessions for me to write: that I think I have it in me to have a gambling problem. Why would I even go to Vegas, then? The occasion was for a fantasy baseball draft in person with many old college buddies, and I really wanted to be a part of it.

I pledged to myself that I wouldn’t gamble at all on the trip. However, on Friday at work, I was telling people that I was heading off to Vegas, and I started asking people if they had lucky numbers. I figured I could put a few dollars down on a single roulette spin with those numbers selected, and if one of them one, I’d give the person associated with the lucky number half the money. The numbers I took down were 3, 8, 16, and 32. If you hit a single number in roulette, you profit at a 35:1 ratio.

Then came Vegas, which is essentially an endless sea of blackjack tables. Many of my friends play blackjack and had come prepared to spend a few hundred dollars. The temptation was definitely there for me, but something that helped was that at the Mirage, where we were staying, the minimum bet at the blackjack tables was $15. No way was I going to do that.

I intentionally didn’t bring much cash to Vegas (about $50) because I knew I wouldn’t use the ATMs there, so over the course of the weekend, I saw my cash supplies dwindle from cab fares to my portion of  a split check and my share of some room alcohol. By this afternoon, with a couple hours left in Vegas, I only had $10 left. I decided to save the $10 and not take a spin at the roulette wheel–plus, the roulette minimum was $15 anyway.

My friends had been talking about me using those lucky numbers the entire weekend…for some reason the idea really excited them. Maybe it stood out because I wasn’t doing any other gambling. So these wonderful enablers of mine finally convinced me to put down the $10, and a friend spotted me another $5 to make the minimum.

You can’t divide $15 four ways , so I decided to add my own lucky number to the mix (9, my soccer number) and bet on five individual numbers, $3 each. The dealer (who for some reason was not at all happy to have us at her table), spun the wheel, and we waited and waited until the ball settled on…

9!

That’s right, I won $105 on one spin of roulette. I put it all aside except for the original $15, bet that money on the same numbers, lost, and walked away with $90 in hand.

And that’s my Vegas roulette story. Do you have a crazy/lucky gambling story to share?


15 Responses to “Vegas #1: The Roulette Story”

  1. Mercedes says:

    Ooh, you were so lucky. Nobody wins our roulette. But be forewarned: beginner’s luck quickly fades.

    Welcome to my city, Jamey. 🙂

  2. Harley says:

    That’s nuts, Jamey! I’m glad you were able to contain yourself to one, tiny game of roulette. You’re the best.

  3. Katie Baker says:

    ooh- I hate people like you! :o) I just don’t understand the self control. As soon as I walk into a casino, I feel the pull towards the tables- it’s intoxicating. The chance to win. The excitement of the people who are winning. Knowing that I can be that one. One more pull of the lever. One more hand at the table. One more trip to the ATM. Sigh.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Oh, trust me, I feel that pull too. Have you been to Vegas? Everything in Vegas has that pull. But the temptation to win money is probably the biggest. I watched my friends play a fair amount of blackjack, and I certainly wanted to sit down, but I resisted. It was the right call for me.

      • Katie Baker says:

        Yes- I absolutely love Vegas. I’m glad it’s so far away. I’ve been 5 or 6 times, most recently a year ago. Everytime I go there’s something different to see or somewhere different to stay. Never lost more than a couple of hundred dollars gambling but I get so weak when I’m there. Last time I actually told my guy that I have a problem and he was to make sure that I left my ATM card in the safe when we went out at night. I think I only hit the cash machine once (that he didn’t know about!) Even now, I’m tempted to go look for a cheap flight…

        • Jamey Stegmaier says:

          Wow, 5 or 6 times?! What’s your favorite place to stay? We were at the Mirage.

          I hear you about the temptation to gamble. If I had a lot more disposable income, I’d consider it. But not at this point. And the flights for us weren’t cheap at all–$350 round trip, no layover.

          • Katie Baker says:

            Hard to say which I liked the best. Never stayed the same place twice. The first time I went, I pricelined for a 4-5 star hotel on the strip and I ended up in the Luxor in a minisuite. It was absolutely incredible. The views out the window with the slightly slanted (pyramid) walls were beautiful. What I didn’t like was that it was so far down the strip that it wasn’t central enough. Last time I was there we ended up at the Wynn (again, priceline). It was around $100 a night – not a suite, but really nice room and view and the location on the strip was great. The clubhouse at the golf course overlooks one of the holes with a waterfall- had brunch there but it was $500 to golf- *gasp* no thank you!
            The most fun I had was when my friend got married in the gardens of the Flamingo- Elvis came to the reception for a bit. Not as tacky as it sounds- he was great.
            In summary- it doesn’t matter where you stay as long as the room is clean and you know how to get to where the fun is!

            • Jamey Stegmaier says:

              I like the Priceline idea. Hotwire does the same thing too, I think. We just looked ahead for good deals, and we ended up happy with the Mirage location. If I went back (which probably won’t happen), I’d aim for the Venetian or the Palazzo. They seemed pretty awesome, as did the Bellagio. I heard the Wynn was beautiful too, but I didn’t go in there. The pool at the Mirage was pretty awesome, though. Lots of people my age in skimpy bathing suits.

              Your friend got married there!? Wow. That’s a memorable wedding.

  4. Josh says:

    While on our cruise to Bermuda a few years ago, my girlfriend turned $1.25 into $50 worth of quarters at the slot machine…on her second pull. Watching quarters spew out of that thing for what seemed like forever (since neither one of us had any idea how much the jackpot was) was awesome, but seeing the look on the old ladies’ faces that had been playing there all day was even better.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Dude, I feel bad for all those old people. I guess some of them have disposable income to lose, but a lot of them don’t. I saw a lot of sad-looking people with riches in their sights this weekend.

  5. Lindsay says:

    I was vacationing with my family on an island off the coast of Panama, called Contadora. This island is so small it has a runway stretching the length of the island long enough to land a 14-seater plane. At the end of the runway is the one resort on the island. This resort has a casino with one Blackjack table and a handful of slot machines.

    I went in with a dollar, and played the nickel slots until I had $2.50. Then I bought some Skittles. I was 12.

    That’s the extent of my gambling experience.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      That’s great. A 12-year-old gambler. After a big win like that, you probably figured you didn’t need to work anymore. Just sit back and reap the dividends.

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