i spy: it’s a trap!

6 03 2011

i saw something kind of funny today on congress street that i’d never seen before. a hilariously handwritten sign (with the word “guaranteed” papered over no fewer than 3 times due to misspelling) in the window of paul’s food center (OF COURSE) advertised that their in-store ATM would occasionally dispense $50 bills instead of $20s for certain “lucky” patrons. like a slot machine!

my initial reaction was “dude, i need some $20s RIGHT NOW”. even though i needed nothing of the sort… but the more i started to think about it the more i realized what a seductive but terrible idea it was.

at least in atlantic city, you get cheap drinks and all you can eat buffets. to me, it’s the experience that warrants the careless throwing of money into outer space.

my bank charges me $2+ every time i use an out of network ATM (which with my tiny local credit union is pretty much all of them). even in atlantic city, i have a panic attack every time i get anywhere near the $1 slots- and those have a much larger potential payoff! why on earth would i go out of my way to pay $2+ to the paul’s food center ATM, when i’m probably never gonna get that whopping $50 jackpot?

that’s how they get you!

i have to admit, it’s a pretty brilliant plan to get people to use your ATM…and i’m pretty embarrassed that i almost fell for it. if i’m ever in the area and need cash, and i’m gonna have to pay a fee no matter where i go… i’ll probably stop in at paul’s. it may not be the big cha-ching, but an extra $30 is never a bad thing.





know when to fold em.

23 02 2010

kenny rogers wasn’t foolin’ (and he still isn’t).  even though i’m only $234 into my $250 experiment (and six days short of the full month), after the weekend’s foxwoods trip, i’ve decided that it’s time for gambling month to come to an end. not that foxwoods wasn’t amazing, because it was (and always is)- as evidenced by the photographs on my flickr site (i can’t believe i didn’t take more pictures!) of light up lucite statues, fiberglass fish, and abandoned buffet-line polident.

blame it on the recycled air and dried up eyeballs. blame it on the fact that i won $130 immediately from a slot machine ($10 into the night), and then proceeded to blow through my remaining $90 in record time with nothing to show. blame it on the 1.5 hour wait in the buffet line next to a smashmouth cover band. blame it on the fact that i need new running shoes, and that i am tired of spending my money on worthless pieces of paper.  whatever it is… after foxwoods, i just sort of snapped. the excitement had officially worn off.

i’m sure for some richy rich high rollers out there, gambling is about the excitement and the power and making your dick feel huge. but for low earning jerks like me, gambling is about hope. hope for a life without debt or money worries. or maybe hope for a mansion or a jet ski or house boy (or perhaps all three).  hope for stuff that we might never get, no matter how hard we work.

after allowing myself to get sucked into the vortex of big dreams and fast spending for a month, what i learned is that the odds will always be better if i put my money down on achievable dreams that don’t require too much luck. not that i think i need to aim low, but there is a level of realism that does need to be maintained. medical school- yes! paying off my credit card debt- yes! a full set of diamond teeth- no!

it was definitely fun for a while, and worth doing 100% (but just this once). but next time i get the urge to buy scratch tickets or powerball, i think i’m going to just stuff $3 in my piggy bank and be done with it. my biggest dream right now is to be debt free- and that ain’t gonna happen if i keep flushing my money down the fantasy toilet.

final totals:

money spent on scratch tickets: $55
money won on scratch tickets: $33

money spent on powerball: $4
money won on powerball: $0 (i matched ONE NUMBER total on all 4 games- fuck you easy pick!)

money spent onine gambling: $25
money won online gambling: $0

money spent at bingo: $50
money won playing bingo: $0

money spent at foxwoods: $100
money won at foxwoods: $130 (i squirreled it away in my bra for the rest of the weekend so i wouldn’t lose/spend it.)

total spent: $234
total won: $163
total defecit: -$71





there was a farmer had a dog.

22 02 2010

first and foremost people, that dog’s name was B-I-N-G-O, not B-E-A-N-O. bingo is the game, beano is the stuff that makes you less farty when you eat broccoli. why come to the south portland BINGO hall, if you’re just going to yell BEANO all the time. sorry for the rant, but for some reason that filled me with blinding rage.  the good news is that the rest of the evening filled me with joy and awe. not so much money, but lots and lots of awe.

i knew from some light googling that bingo began at 6:30, but i thought it wise to call and ask for more info. apparently the hall would open at 3, and we would need to arrive at 5:30 at the latest to “get set up” (although he didn’t disclose exactly what that meant). scary. being the kind of girls who like to live on the edge (and who have a hard time being on time for things), me and my lovely date kristina showed up around 5:50, cash in hand and ready for action.  the “set up” part  turned out to be choosing the level of bingo we would play, getting our machines (what!?), and finding a seat with some people who weren’t giving us laser eyes of death.

although the guy had said on the phone that the buy in would be $20, a fellow bingo-er (bingotian? bingonian?) started yelling at us from a nearby table that the $32 game was the way to go. not knowing dick about bingo, and being completely overwhelmed with choices, we took her advice readily. then, it was out into the sea of folding  tables to find someone who wouldn’t overtly shun us, and to figure out exactly what to do with this giant bingo calculator speak & read thing that we were each now holding.

we spotted the only other couple under the age of 70 sitting at a mostly empty table near the snackbar. “this is a lucky table” they said, flagging us down.  with great relief, we installed ourselves, and they gave us the run down of the rules and regs. as opposed to the big paper cards of days past (though still available at a cheaper rate), the machine bingo had all your cards and games memorized, and all you had to do was push the numbers as they were called. you could even pick your own markers (i went for magic 8 ball, kristina went for tigers, our table companions refused to tell us what they used).  then it was just hanging out and waiting for the action to start.

i got a fanta, a grilled cheese basket, and a fistful of pull tabs to pass the time. these are sort of like scratch tickets, except that you pull off a protective layer of paper instead of scratching to reveal your prize.  certain number of $100, $250, & $500 prizes are guaranteed per box (i think they had 4 different boxes going), and as the night goes on they yell out how many big prizes are left to get people to keep buying more. i saw people plunking down $25 & $50 and just standing over a trash can pulling and tossing, pulling and tossing. i actually won $5 which of course i invested in more pull tabs. oops. all i got was a big pile of brightly colored paper.

there were also people walking around selling 50/50 raffle tickets which allowed people to win a small pot and the privilege of spinning the construction paper wheel of fortune at the front of the hall. the lady behind me went home with $30 and a quesadilla maker. solid.

as a side note, where the fuck are all these old people getting hundreds of dollars to spend on bingo and pull tabs?

once the games began, it was pretty much just like i imagined.  the guy or gal at the front of the room called out the numbers as they shot out of this big popcorn popper deal at the front of the room, and everything got put up on big beautiful old-school light up bingo boards at all 4 corners of the room. there were however a few surprises:

1. we never played regular bingo. it was always something crazy like “the hard way” (regular bingo not using the center free space), “8 around the corner”, “rooftop”, “crazy Y”, or “church cross”.

2. even though we paid to play machine bingo, they gave us one paper card for the “quickie coverall” game. this involved using a dab-o-ink bingo marker (kindly lent to us by our table mates) to blot out numbers as the caller yelled them out triple time. so stressful!

3. don’t you dare yell out false bingo. i made a joke about how people would get shanked in the parking lot, and my new bingo sensei looked at me with all seriousness and said “they’ll shank you right here”.

4. you are not to touch anyone else’s machine. in fact if you have to use the restroom during play and can’t hold it until one of the designated 10 minute breaks, you have to raise your hand and one of the “bingo assistants” will play the game in your absence.

5. if you should be holding a conversation at standard volume, prepare to be SHUSHED! (the shame!)

$50 down, and not a penny won by the group at our “lucky table”, i still felt like my money was pretty well spent. i’d spend that or more on a usual friday dinner at caiola’s or the blue spoon, and not get nearly as much adventure (plus hello, fanta on tap!). which is not to say that i’ll be adventuring every weekend. i’m thinking i’ll go back maybe once a month (or every other month) and bring some friends to take in all the romance that is friday night bingo (although i hear it’s $10 cheaper on sunday). as is my opinion with all gambling, if the experience doesn’t feel worth the money, then it doesn’t really matter how much you might win. bingo for me gets an unequivocal thumbs up. plus, if we don’t get the younger generation in there- it looks like bingo might die off completely in a couple of year. no disrespect, but man those people are old.

you can check out the rest of the photos of my bingo escapade at my newly forged flickr account.





we’ll be right back.

21 02 2010

so sorry for the radio silence! i brought my laptop to foxwoods with full intention of writing my post immediately upon my return to the hotel. well, right after I rolled around naked in my winnings. unfortunately, i didn’t plan on an almost 2 hour wait in the buffet line, or how shriveled up and hung over i would feel after 6 hours in a windowless canned-air environment with a bunch of chain smokers. by 1 a.m. i was exhausted, bloated with starch (note to self, casino buffets are NOT for vegetarians), and my eyeballs were so dried out i could barely see. thus, no saturday post. profound apologies. i am headed north as we speak (writing this post on my iphone- so don’t judge the spelling mistakes too harshly), and will give the full account of both my casino adventure, and friday night bingo blowout in sopo. in the meantime, please enjoy this snapshot from my evening.

p.s. no pressure, but if you had been following my twitter, you could have seen me waiting in the buffet line IN REAL TIME, and you’d know already whether i won or lost.





powered up.

15 02 2010

well, after a promising start, i’ve certainly broken the seal on losing at gambling. so far:

$36 spent on scratch tickets- $28 won.  -$8

$25 spent online gambling- $0 won. -$25 and a whole bunch of ridiculous hassle.

next weekend is the foxwoods trip, but i figured i needed to knock another item off my list as february is rapidly coming to a close. in comes powerball. i mean- POWERBALL!! i bought 4 random pick numbers today at the scary 7-11 on washington ave (you know, the one where you can get sponch?), and now i guess i just wait until wednesday.

not very exciting at first, but then you stare at your ticket for a while and realize that the next jackpot is valued at $40,000,000. that’s some serious walkin around money. and you start to fantasize about what you would do if you won the whole pantload… sure i’d buy my mom a house, quit my job and go to medical school, go see the pyramids…  probably the same stuff that all lottery winners do. but then what?

i could trade in all my regular clothes and start lounging around in something a little more fabulous. (that is assuming that i can buy some sort of pill that makes me never have to go to the bathroom- because the logistics here aren’t working for me).

i could be driving one of these puppies (just like dolly in straight talk). although i should probably hire someone to teach me how to drive first.

i could try do buy a date with this guy. as long as he promises not to wear this. (orange turtleneck? really?)

hell, i could get myself some diamond studded brass knuckles and go apeshit. (ok, they’re diamonique- but i could commission that shit if i had 40 mil).

you?





slut for slots.

12 02 2010

wow, who would have thought that internet gambling was a terrible idea? i enjoy regular gambling, so i figured that it would be fun to add a new layer to gambling month by hitting the internet slots. all the fun of foxwoods without having to leave the confines of my sweatpants! except not.

difficulty #1: apparently, not all online casinos are mac friendly. after doing extensive recon on which casinos were the best (least likely to rob me and leave me bleeding in a ditch), i found that none of my first choices had a mac interface.

difficulty #2: after going on a secondary internet research mission to find a mac friendly home-casino, i finally decided upon gocasino. my requirements were simple:  no software to download, mac-ability, lots of slot machines, and no flagrantly bad reviews. i was able to set up a user account quite quickly/easily, but things started to unravel when i went to the “cashier” area to put some scratch into my account. apparently they don’t take debit cards. or not my debit card (despite funds being more than sufficient). it took me two tries to figure this out (this will come into play later), until i finally ended up going to the freezer, melting out my lower interest card (i know, wrong- but i did it for the experiment!), and laying down the minimum amount of $25. success! (for now)

difficulty #3: i remember loving old school casinos where you used actual quarters and could use the bucket method. simple. one bucket for the money that you want to spend, one bucket for the money you end up winning. when the spend bucket is gone, spending time is over. now at most casinos, you have to print out a ticket if you want your winnings. and at the online casino, you just have to try and remember how much you’ve won- because the credits you win just get folded into your total credits immediately. i tried, i really tried to keep track… but it’s just so easy to keep clicking away. i got lazy and just decided to blow it all until i either won big, or it was gone. surprise, it got gone real quick. i mostly played slots (which had adjustable play amounts down to $.10 which i thought was cool), but i also played a couple games of keno, and one very ill fated $5 game of roulette. i liked that you didn’t have to be a big spender, and there was a good variety of games. it was fun, but the $$$ went too fast. there was nothing to break up the time- no wandering around the slots looking for one that looked ripe for a payout,  no oogling the crazies hooked up to the machines like life support. and there were certainly no free cocktails.  it was just me, on my couch, repeatedly clicking away the money that didn’t seem real. i could definitely see how people get into trouble with this.

difficulty #4: after my 30 minutes or so of clicky gamblin’ fun, i decided to call it quits. wait, that’s a lie. i actually decided to play $10 more, but apparently that is below the minimum deposit- so they wouldn’t let me. THEN i decided to quit. foolishly, i figured that the worst part of my gambling experience was putting $25 on my credit card. wrong! the worst part came the next day when i got phone calls and emails from both my credit union and my credit card company telling me that both accounts had been suspended for suspicious overseas activity. fuck! mostly i just needed to spend time with some grumpy CSRs verifying that i had indeed made the transactions, and all was restored to normal. i was also told that if i wanted to make more deposits with gocasino, i would have to fill out some paperwork to verify them as safe- or the same thing would happen again. no thanks, i’m good.

difficulty #5: wow, you think i’d be done by now, but several hours after CSR hell, when i was thinking that i was finally free… i get a call from gocasino. and an email. fuck, i’ve given them my phone number. they want to tell me about some sort of “special offer”, but i’m not buying it. i’m done with internet gambling for good, but i wonder how long it will take them to figure that out. oh, and their number comes up as “unknown”, so i can’t even block it. BALLS! *UPDATE* they called me one more time, just an hour after i wrote this post. i told them to go screw and then hung up on me. am i done yet?

lesson learned. next time i yearn to squander my dollars at the casinos, i’ll skip virtual hell, and go to a real one. next stop (next weekend)- foxwoods!





bingo.

10 02 2010

no seriously. are you looking at this? i would like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing julie who sent me arguably the most hilarious/awesome present i have ever received. not only was it an incredibly nice thing to do, but are you looking at it?  i mean, how could i have lived my life until now not knowing that this existed? god bless new orleans for knowing that universe needed these. lots of these.

and if you’re wondering if i’ll be wearing it next week when i throw myself into the dog eat dog world of weeknight bingo, the answer is an unequivocal HELLS YES. i need to show those grannies who’s boss. i will also be wearing it at foxwoods next weekend- regardless of whether i’m playing bingo or not.  actually, i’m considering wearing it all the time. i think it will work  seamlessly into my office casual wardrobe.