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The saddest music in the world11 October 2016
The slot machines of 1984 were not the slot machines of today. In the early 1990s, my wife the Beautiful AP wrote a wonderful article called “A Bigger Bucket” where she interviewed several inveterate slot players, asking them what it was they wanted from their slot play. One elderly woman said, “I just want a bigger bucket.” In those days coin buckets came in small, medium and large sizes. Big jackpots, or big streaks, would mean a bigger bucket. Playing dollar coins also required bigger buckets.
You might say that “a bigger bucket” could be considered the mantra of that time period.
I don’t doubt this woman’s desire was not unusual, but her expression of it was memorable and stuck in my wife’s mind. I am thinking of that today (“I just want a bigger bucket”) as I write this column. With few exceptions here and there across the country, there is no need for desiring a bigger bucket because there are almost no buckets anymore. Everything is paper and more paper.
I go back to the slot machines of 1984. Coins, coins and more coins, big coins of the dollar and five dollar variety; fifty-cent pieces; quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. You could hear the jingle-jangle of coins as players put them in their buckets and took them out of their buckets. When you finished playing the slots your hand was usually begrimed with smudge that came off the coins. Many fingers looked as if they were the silver fingers of the robot-men from Doctor Who.
There were slot attendants in just about all the aisles. They would often tell players which machines they thought would be hot (these pieces of advice had no validity except to get them tips should the machines they pointed out gushed forth coins) and the slot attendants were there to give players change if the players needed it. When big jackpots were hit, they came over to cheer and handle the crowds and maybe get that tip.
Today, the slot attendant has almost gone the way of the dinosaur. It is rare to see them as you play. Kiosks now exist for getting and receiving credit slips. There are even some separate cages for slot players. No one’s hands need to get dirty anymore. Slot play is now clean play.
In the old days the sounds of the slots were loud and seemingly unregulated; over here a hit, over there a hit. You could hear music and machines dumping loads of coins into trays. It was a “cacophony in chaos” as my mentor the Captain once said and such noise caused joy to slot players. Slot players could enter a casino and what they saw and what they heard sent chills up their spins; it was a mechanized Mardi Gras.
The games were almost all three reels. Everywhere you looked you could see spins, in every direction spins and spins. There were very few video machines back then whereas today the video machines are starting to take control. There were very few multiple-line machines. Yes, there was a certain sameness throughout the slot aisles.
I also remember those silver divers; individuals who went from machine to machine in a given casino, and then casino to casino looking for coins that were unintentionally left behind. These could be coins that landed flat against a side wall that the player could not see or many coins that an inebriated player just left in the tray. The silver divers actually made something of a living doing this.
Today, the slot sounds do seem somewhat subdued. The music does not sound as raucous. I am sure that slot players are perfectly happy with the slot arrangements in today’s casinos. Many slot players never played slots in 1984 – many of these slot players didn’t even exist back then.
The interactive age of slots is getting into full swing. All those generations of kids who loved video games now go to casinos. They have put their stamp on things. The casinos now reflect the radical changes in technology and players’ expectations.
The wagon wheel makers, the blacksmiths, the lamp lighters, the town criers, the icemen are no longer major components of our society. They have been superseded. They do not belong to our new age. Nor does 1984.
Frank Scoblete’s latest books are "I Am a Dice Controller: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Craps," "Confessions of a Wayward Catholic" and "I Am a Card Counter: Inside the World of Advantage-Play Blackjack." Available from Amazon.com, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, and at bookstores.
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 email@example.com.
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