Friday, March 14, 2014


So many people love them but I am not among them. I really don't like slot machines and never have. There was a time when you could make a steady income from going back to the same machine over and over again but these days casinos can reset them, move them, or change the way they pay out with a few mouse clicks. Nevertheless, they are the big earners of the gambling world.

Here's a story about a very unique machine. I've never seen one like it before or since!

The Best Slot Machine Ever

Slot machines have evolved over time from the low tech, cherries and lemons one-armed bandits of the 1960s to the glitzy, multireel, computer generated noise-makers of today. Regardless of the time or the place, a sensible player always reads the instructions beforehand. A sensible player does, not everyone!

Older machines had a little label posted on the front detailing the payouts for each winning combination of symbols. Today’s machines have video page after page of payout information as well as instruction screens that hardly anyone bothers to read – think the “Terms and Conditions” pages you so quickly “agree” to that come with every computer download! Walk up, put your coins in, pull the handle; walk up, stick your green back in the slot, push the button. Things really do not change much.

A long while ago, in the early 1980s, I stopped off at a small Reno hotel/casino while driving to San Francisco. In those days Las Vegas was the big beautiful sister and Reno was the grungy little brother of the casino family. Nevertheless, it was a quaint and pleasant town. In the lobby of the hotel I chose to stay in for the night, there was a huge slot machine with traditional looking reels and a handle but with a high glass back sort of like a pin ball machine. Every time someone put in a dollar (actually steel gaming coins) one line would light up indicating 1 pull. The lines went up and up, ten in all. As I checked in I watched a few people walk up to the machine, put in a few coins, pull and leave. Sometime they won a few dollars, most times not. No big deal.

Off to the right of the machine there was a middle aged woman sitting with a young girl child on her lap. Every once in a while the woman got up, walked over to the machine, put in a few dollars one at a time, pulled the handle, collected and went back to her seat. She was calm, patient and well, smart.

You see, no one else ever read the machine instructions. Like all slot machines located in public areas, people readily dumped the few extra coins they had in their pockets into it to try their luck. But this machine guaranteed that on every tenth pull, marked by the illuminated lines going up and up, the player would get back 5 silver dollars. The patient woman waited eagerly until at least the 6th or 7th line was lit and then she went over, put in 3, 4, or fewer of her own coins and got back 5 every time. She didn’t need to hope for jackpots and bars; she made her living a few dollars at a time. Reading is fundamental and profitable.

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