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Best of Frank Scoblete
Just shoot me!2 September 2010
As a gambling writer I must spend enough time in all the sections of the casino to get the hang of what's being done, what's being said, and who is whom and all the rest of it. That includes the slot aisles, where I roam and sit, sit and roam, where I talk to the players and try to unearth the reasons why people play the machines and what brings them back time after time, over and over again.
There is not one single slot player I have met who doesn't know that the slots are unbeatable, except with a large sledgehammer and a dream. Oh, yes, there are some advantage-play slot machines which I'll be revealing in my new slot book, but these are the small exceptions to the larger slot rule -- it ain't easy to win.
So I was sitting at a machine the other night, just getting my bearings, watching the slot players play fast, faster and so fast that you could hardly count the nanoseconds between spins.
And then this woman sat next to me. She was around 70 years old, with a poor facelift that made her mouth look like the cavernous mouth of the horrifying face plastered on the entrance at the old Steeplechase in Coney Island. An Alfred E. Newman face. You could see the stretch marks that lined her jaw as the skin was pulled tightly behind her ears. Her face couldn't move much, except that her voice box still worked.
"I just love playing the slots," she said through all that stretched skin.
"Ah, good, good, have fun," I said.
"Are you playing? I haven't seen you spin the reels."
"Oh," I said. "I was just thinking there a bit."
"What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing, really, just wandering thoughts," I said.
"Now how can a person think of nothing? Isn't that a contradiction in terms?"
"I didn't mean exactly nothing," I said. "You know, just kind of like thoughts going by and other thoughts following them. That's what I mean by nothing."
"People should say what they mean and not say what they don't mean," she stated authoritatively.
"I guess you're right," I said.
"Of course I am right," she said. "Listen if you aren't playing that machine can you exchange seats with me? Your machine is going to get lucky and I want to be playing it when it does."
"Oh, yes, fine," I said and got up. This was my chance to get away and I made a step to head down the aisle but she caught me with her voice.
"Now you sit right down next to me, I have some things I want to talk to you about."
"I don't have much time."
"This will only take a minute," she said. So I sat down, which was a mistake.
"I come to Vegas alone you know," she said. "My husband ran off with another woman who was thirty years his junior and he hasn't spoken to me since our divorce. That was twenty years ago. I hear he's still married to that thing."
"Sorry about that," I said.
"Why should you be sorry? You didn't do anything."
"Right, you know, that's just a phrase," I said.
"An incorrect phrase," she said.
"Yeah, yeah, you're right."
"Of course," she nodded. "I studied logic and that is why I am so logical." She put a one hundred dollar bill into the machine. "My husband was an illogical man. He couldn't stand for me to tell him why his thinking processes were wrong. Ooohhh, I almost had a big one on that spin. Look how close the symbols came to being in line."
"Actually they just look like they are close but being above the correct line is as far away as if you never saw those symbols," I said.
"Is that nonsense or what? There are the symbols, just one line away. You are saying that they are not one line away? How illogical can you get? Can't you see they are one line away?"
Do I argue with her or shut up? Over my two decades of writing about the games we all play, I have found it a wise practice to just keep my mouth shut in the casinos when it comes to advice or knowledge or both. Most casino players don't want advice and they don't want knowledge; they just want to have fun. So I kept my mouth shut.
"You have no answer for me I see," she laughed. Her face didn't move when she laughed. It was as if she had a soundtrack in her neck that just erupted from her marbled face.
"Okay, well, I gotta go," I said.
"I have a question for you," she said as if I had never said a thing about going. I paused. "You see that woman over there? The one with the wrinkles?"
"Yes," I said.
"Would you want to take her out to dinner tonight, my treat?"
"That's my daughter," she said, "and she's a very depressed person because she hasn't landed a man. She's forty eight years old and she is miserable. If you -- "
"No, no," I said. "I'm married. I'm happily married. I am sure your daughter is very nice..."
"Ha! She's an idiot!" the lady. "She had a shot twice at two very rich men and she blew the whole thing. These guys weren't anything to look at but she could have fooled around, you know?"
"Well, I gotta go," I said.
"Your wife doesn't have to know..."
"Look, I am sure that you have your reasons for this but I am just not interested," I said.
"Terry, come over here!" she shouted. Terry looked up and shambled over. My word, this woman really did look depressed.
"This young man wants to take you to dinner," said the woman.
Terry looked me up and down. She had black bags under dull gray eyes. She sniffed. Her nose was running and she dabbed a handkerchief at it. Okay, so I no longer looked like Cary Grant or Brad Pitt. Then Terry shook her head "no."
"Listen young lady," said the woman. "You can't be too choosy, you know. This nice young man..."
"I'm sixty-one years old," I said.
"You look older," said Terry. "You have too much weight on you. I don't like fat people. No offense." She rubbed the handkerchief against her nose.
"She had a nose job about ten years ago that didn't take properly. That's why her nose runs," said the woman. "No big deal."
"No offense taken, Terry. You see I am married," I said.
"And you are looking to cheat on your wife?" said Terry disdainfully as she rubbed her running nose.
"No, no," I said.
"You don't want to go to dinner with this man? What is your name?" she asked me.
"Fr...Fra...Fritz," I stammered.
"Fritz what?" asked Terry.
"Lang," I blurted. Please Lord, don't let her know who Fritz Lang was. Why did I say Fritz Lang?
"Look," I said.
"Momma, this gentleman is looking for a one-night stand cheating on his wife. I do not do those anymore." Any more? Any more? I looked her over. She wasn't exactly devastatingly beautiful. I mean she wasn't a dog but she was coming pretty close with that wet nose.
"Listen, I think you got this all wrong," I said.
"What would your wife think of this, Fritz?" asked Terry.
"Fritz? Oh, oh, Fritz, no, look I do not want to have dinner and I am not looking for a one-night stand!" I said that too loud. Several women in the slot aisle turned and looked at me reproachfully.
"You would do that to your wife?" shouted one at the end of the bank of machines.
"I am not doing anything to my wife!" I said to her.
"If you took care of your wife you'd not be looking for a hookup," said Terry.
"I'm not looking for a hookup!"
"I am gonna get hot now!" shouted the woman. "Those big symbols appeared again right above the line."
Three women were frowning at me from their machines. Terry was sniffing and dabbing her wet nose. The woman with the stretched face started to hammer away at the slot machine, lost in her logical world of a "lucky" machine.
"Excuse me," I said loudly. "I have to go meet my harem."
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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