I've written four Jerks of the Week entries about my trip to Vegas, yet, aside from my troubles at the Golden Nugget sportsbook, I haven't discussed the gambling aspect of it yet. That's because it was mostly non-existent.
I think gambling at casinos is stupid, for the most part. The house will always win in the long term, and unless you're playing poker or blackjack, you don't stand a chance. Sure, you might get lucky here and there, and I've heard friends and family members brag about how much money they won via a slot machine or roulette wheel, but they will never, ever tell you about all the times they lost. Think about it - unless someone goes broke and needs a loan from you, you'll never hear a story like this:
"YOU'LL NEVER BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED TO ME TODAY! I WENT TO THE CASINO, AND I PLAYED SLOTS AND ROULETTE, AND I LOST $1,200!!! ISN'T THAT AMAZING!?!?!?"
I mentioned poker and blackjack, but I have no desire to play either. Poker just takes too long for anything to happen, and I'm not quite clear on the blackjack rules. Yes, I know you need 21 to win, but the whole "doubling down" thing is something I've never quite grasped, nor had the ambition to do so.
As for slots, they are the root of all evil. They really are. They were everywhere in Vegas - the airport, the car rental place, even gas stations! There were all sorts of various slots as well. My girlfriend and I constantly passed by a Friends slot machine to and from the elevator leading up to our hotel room. I checked out the machine for just three seconds, and Rachel was still giving Ross blue balls after all these years.
The slot machine I found the most ridiculous was an Ellen DeGeneres themed one. In my three days in Vegas, I saw just one person playing it. If this individual happened to look sane, I would've asked her, "What's the appeal here? Why are you playing an Ellen slot machine? Do you want a Justin Bieber lesbian haircut like her, or is your life that miserable that an Ellen slot machine looks enticing to you?" Unfortunately, the woman using this slot machine was a 70-year-old, bugged-eyed, crazy-looking black woman with frazzled hair who looked like she thought it was still the 1970s.
The thing is, you hardly see any sane people playing slots. They're mostly people who either look zonked out or appear to have a horrible sense of hopelessness in their eyes. It's actually rather depressing.
A friend of mine - and I'll refrain from using his name in case he wanted to stay anonymous on this - told me that he did some reading on the science behind slot machines. He thought that everything they do to attract less-intelligent people is fascinating; between all of the bright colors and loud sounds, individuals with IQs below 100 are drawn to these slot machines, much like moths are attracted to flame. These people, according to the study, don't even care if they win or lose; it's the process of playing that's appealing to them. The bright lights and loud sounds fascinate them much more than the prospect of winning money.
What bothers me most about slot machines is how rigged they can possibly be. They're all machines, so the results can be fixed. It would be like this interaction...
Person A: Guess a number between 1 and 10. If you're right, I'll give you a million dollars! All this game costs is $1, so it's totally worth playing!
Person B: Hmm... OK, I guess 8!
Person A: No, sorry, 7 was the number I was thinking of! Thank you for the $1!
No person with a functioning brain would ever play this game, right? Even if Person B correctly guessed the number Person A was thinking of, what's to stop Person A from lying so he wouldn't have to give away a million bucks? Person A would earn $1 every single time and would never relinquish the million dollars he probably doesn't have.
This same principle can be applied to slot machines, so why do people trust them? Is it because of the flashing lights and blaring sounds? Or is it because they're not interacting with another human being directly? They better believe they are though, as some casinos undoubtedly have the slot machines coded so the house profits every single day. Sure, they'll give out winnings to some - if no one ever won, some people would eventually quit playing - but the casinos will always come out on top, especially in the slot game.
I'm not saying all casinos do this, but the fact remains that there's no way of knowing which houses are crooked, and which aren't. That doesn't keep people from playing, though.
Here's an example of someone stupid: My girlfriend and I were standing next to a dragon-themed slot machine while we were waiting for someone. A fat Mexican woman approached us and asked us quite possibly the dumbest question of all time:
"How are these slots feeling today? Lucky?"
"Lucky" slots? Are you a f***ing idiot? I wanted to reply, "Yeah, they're lucky, I saw a leprechaun hanging around this machine earlier. He stripped off his pants and took a massive s*** on the machine, so it's definitely lucky." I decided against this, however, as she was probably so stupid that she wouldn't grasp the sarcasm and would probably believe that I was actually telling the truth. She'd probably spend the entire day scouring the casino for the leprechaun as a result, and that would be too cruel of a trick to play on someone so incredibly stupid.
I'm proud to say that I've never played the slots in my entire life; not with my own money, anyway. I've pressed the button/pulled the lever when someone else put their cash into it, but I would never play slots on my own. I just don't get the appeal. If I lose money, I want it to be because the casino is nickel and diming me, just like Mandalay Bay did all weekend.
My girlfriend played a couple of slot games, but only because she was killing time. We were finishing our drinks the first night there before going up to our room, so she decided that she wanted to play this Harry Potter-themed "penny" slot machine.
"I don't mind playing for a couple of pennies while we finish our drinks," she said. "Besides, I have some pennies on me."
She sat down and searched for the slot to insert her pennies (**). She didn't have much luck, and I didn't either. There was only a place to insert a dollar bill. Oh, OK, that makes a lot of sense. Here we have a penny slot machine that doesn't accept pennies - only dollar bills! Slot machines are rigged enough as it is, but they don't have to blatantly lie to us like this.
(**) I stepped away from my computer after typing this sentence because my dog was chewing on the wall above an outlet - yeah, chewing on the wall, I don't know - and I had to yell at him. What, you don't believe me? I have proof, as I took a picture when I caught him red-handed (red-pawed?), and yet he's pretending that he's chewing on one of his toys:
Anyway, my point for this parenthetical was that I came back to my laptop and read the last thing I wrote. "She sat down and searched for the slot to insert her penis." That's what I thought it said, and I nearly spit out my drink upon reading that.
At any rate, my girlfriend inserted the dollar and played the slot machine. It hit "bar" three times.
"We're rich!" I exclaimed. "I was wrong about slot machines this entire time!"
The machine printed a voucher. I grabbed it quickly, eager to see the millions we'd be collecting. My optimism quickly ended when I saw the total:
Wow. I thought "bar" was good on a slot machine, so why did we make just 30 cents? What a rip-off! My girlfriend played the machine once more and didn't win anything. And just like that, it was over; we had no more credits left.
I handed the 30-cent voucher to my girlfriend, but she just tossed it onto the ground. "F*** that," she said.
We walked away from the machine, and I couldn't resist berating the slot machines.
Me: How do people play those stupid things!? They suck!
Girlfriend: Calm down, Walt. I only lost 70 cents.
Me: No, you lost a whole dollar. You didn't even take your 30-cent winnings!
Here I was complaining about how Mandalay Bay was nickel and diming us the entire weekend, yet we were literally nickel and diming ourselves as well.
I have a few random things I want to discuss about our trip before I end this Vegas series:
1. When I was at the Westgate signing up for the Supercontest, I was approached by a unkempt black man who reeked of whiskey.
Unkempt Black Man: I got some winnas today.
Me: Cool story, bro.
Unkempt Black Man: You gonna buy my winnas?
Unkempt Black Man: Deese winnas only cost $6, gent.
Me: That's $6 too much.
Unkempt Black Man: OK fine, I'm gonna sell ya deese winnas for only $3.
Me: No, go away.
Unkempt Black Man: OK, but do you gots a quata I can barra?
I said nothing and walked away from him. What an a**hole. I realize he was a homeless man just looking for money, but he could've at least put some effort into it. If you have "winnas," you sure as hell aren't going to be looking like a bum and reeking of alcohol. No one's going to buy your "winnas," bud. Try a better scam next time.
2. Take a look at this drink:
This is an Icee. A non-alcoholic Icee I bought at the Michael Jackson-themed Cirque du Soleil show I discussed in the previous entry. Guess how much this was, and once again, there was no alcohol in this:
Movie concession prices are absurd, but this is taking it to another level. The Cirque du Soleil people had us by the balls because no outside food or beverages were allowed, so they charged as much as they wanted to. As another example, a very small can of Pringles was going for $7! Ridiculous. I didn't bother checking the price of popcorn; I assumed customers would have to donate their kidneys just to get a bag.
Speaking of popcorn, the fat man behind the counter asked everyone who ordered a drink if they wanted any "chips, candy or popcorn." When I ordered my drink, I was waiting this question because I was master debating whether or not to exchange my kidney for a bag of popcorn. However, the question never came. He just handed me my Icee and summoned the next customer. What a douche.
As I turned around and headed back to my seat, this 40-year-old blonde woman stopped me.
"IS THERE ANY ALCOHOL IN THAT!?!?!" she asked.
OK, drunkey, calm the f*** down. I told her no and saw how disappointed she was. I then went back to my seat as the show began to start.
For those wondering, the show itself was good. I'd recommend it. My only suggestion would be not to sit behind rowdy black women. My girlfriend and I had that displeasure, and these banshees constantly sung along, danced and snickered at every opportunity. It was quite annoying, and I wanted to dump my Icee on them.
But then I realized that I paid $10 for it, so I just drank it instead.
3. There were two interesting things about the flight home. The first was that my girlfriend and I ate at this place called Port of Subs in the airport. Their sandwiches were good, but two meals ended up costing us $32. I guess they don't have to compete with Subway and their $5 footlongs.
My sub was a ham-and-cheese sandwich. The Asian girl behind the counter went through the usual hoagie-place procedure with me...
Asian Girl: Mustard, mayo?
Asian Girl: OK... lettuce, tomato, onion?
Me: ... No.
Asian Girl: No? You want nothing on your sandwich?
Me: No. I want nothing but ham and cheese.
Asian Girl: Uhh... OK?
Argh. Why is it so difficult for people to comprehend that some individuals - mostly crazy ones like myself - want nothing special with their meals? I'm still furious of Border Grill for robbing me of what seemed like a promising lunch.
The second thing worth noting about the flight was one of the flight attendants. I've been on numerous planes in the past three years, and I had never seen an attractive stewardess - until this flight. This woman was a brunette with a pretty face in her late 20s. She had nice, long legs.
Hot Stewardess eventually came around to collect trash. She held out a plastic bag for everyone to toss away their waste. I had a plastic cup in my hand that I motioned toward her bag, but she just moved it away from me and moved on to the row in front of me.
Girlfriend: Haha! She completely ignored you!
Me: Wow, I'm glad I'm not going crazy because I assumed that's just what happened.
I'd chalk this up as an honest mistake on her part, but she came around once more right before the plane landed. I had more trash this time that I attempted to throw away, yet she once again gave me an evil look and moved away, refusing to accept my disposal.
Me: What the hell!?
Girlfriend: I don't think she likes you, Walt!
She definitely wasn't a fan. But that's OK because I was able to expose her for the b***h she was in Jerks of the Week - the ultimate revenge!
And now I'm home. Vegas was fun, but the trip was way too brief. I told my girlfriend that I came away with five entries about Vegas.
"Imagine how much you'd have to write about if we had stayed out there the entire week!" she replied.
I can only imagine it right now, but I'm hoping to experience it next summer. Will there be a seven- or eight-part series about my second trip to Vegas? Stay tuned!