My Worthless Souvenir From Australia

Aug 21, 2013 five past six pm

I am predisposed to a gambling addiction, that is one of the things I know about myself. Because of that, I never go to casinos unless it is a very special occasion, like a once every few years trip to Las Vegas with friends. I also know to set a firm gambling budget. A reasonable amount of money that I am comfortable losing, and I never go beyond that.

It's a demon that I keep it locked up.

My game of choice is roulette. Before you tell me how stupid roulette is, please remember that all the games are stupid, no game is more stupid than another. Your choice of game is all about how you want to lose your money and how slow or fast. Roulette can be a low game or a fast game.

Roulette pays 36 to 1 if you hit a number. 18 to 1 if you hit the edge and 9 to 1 on the corners of a number.

If you watch a roulette table, most people play by spreading chips all over the table in small stacks of one or two. This is the slow game. You win just enough to make your chips last. Using this technique you can play roulette hours.

I choose the fast game. It's the big wins I crave.

I pick a number and then put 8 chips on it, then 5 chips on all the edges and 3 chips on the corners. This creates a small pyramid of chips on the table. It's a odd strategy and I've ever seen anyone else use it. After I've placed my chips, it's not uncommon for other players to put a few chips on my number, looking for a little of my action.

A few years back in Las Vegas, I won over $6000 on a single spin of the wheel. I was only down a few hundred at the time, so this was big. I played two more losing spins, then cashed in all my chips and never gambled again on that trip. I knew that $6000 would be gone by the end of the night had I not. I have an addiction, but I also have willpower.

As it would happen, our hotel in Melbourne was connected to the largest casino in Australia. I knew this was going to be trouble. I managed to resist roulette for the first few nights and played the slots with my friend. I marked the 3rd night has the one I would finally hit the tables. My speech would be over and it was my reward.

I started with $150 in chips and burnt though those in less than 10 minutes. I got a hit on a corner, but that was it. I wanted to keep playing, but was done for the night.

I managed to stay away from the tables for the next few nights while I played some more light slots with my friend, but the tables never stopped calling me.

On our next to last night, I got $250 in chips and spent 20 minutes finding the right table.

Finding a table is part of the ritual for me and can take an hour before one feels right. I don't know why it feels right, I'm not looking for anything specific and I'm not superstitious. Part of it is the energy at the table. Too few people and it's boring, too many people and the game moves slow. The people need to be having fun.

I finally found my table and placed my first bet. I was feeling good, so I was betting a little more than usual, stacking the chips a little higher.

The first spin was a loss. Nothing hit. My stack of chips became smaller. Was this going to be another 10 minute night? Something about the table felt right.

I bet again, this time on the number 5. I was still feeling good, so I bet even more. Stacked on the number and all the edges and corners.

The ball began it's trip around the outer wheel and the dealer soon called no more bets. The ball slowed and then fell into the center of the wheel and began it's frantic bouncing as it started to settle on a number. My heart races at this point, it's the 3 seconds before the ball picks it's number that drives all my adrenaline and addiction.

The ball bounced, bounced again and then stop on the number 5. My number. It was a dead-on hit.

The dealer seemed a little confused, like she has never happened before. The number of chips and edges and corners was staggering. She spent a few minutes trying to calculate my winnings and finally called the pit boss over to help and he ended up getting a calculator. The other four players were getting bored. No one bet with me, so I was the only winner and it was a big win. Always get in on the action of a big bet.

When everything was tallied, it won over $2000 on that one spin of the wheel. I played two more spins and didn't hit anything and quit for the night. Willpower. It's all about the willpower.

I got a $1000 chip in the payout and locked in the hotel room safe for the rest of the trip. What was I going to do with it? I could spend another night gambling it away. I could turn it into cash and waste it on food and shelter. Or... I could just keep the chip.

So I kept the chip. I now have a $1000 chip from an Australian casino that is, for all intents and purposes... worthless. There was something ironic and poetic about that.

I carry it around with me as my worthless souvenir from Australia. Ask too see it some time and I'll happily recite the tale.

Other people's comments:

Posted by Big Thumbs on Aug 21, 2013 half past seven pm

I have a winning strategy for roulette, but it requires one to be novicely skilled in riddles.

If this is 3 and this is 5 what is this? :)

Posted by Someone on Aug 21, 2013 twenty five to eight pm

Or is that novicely skilled in cypher?  I'm just the muscle. Not too good with words.

Posted by Sam on Aug 21, 2013 twenty five past eleven pm

It's always surprising to encounter a smart gambler.

Why waste time and money on roulette when you could be playing something fun?

Posted by Ariel on Aug 22, 2013 ten to noon

Sorry but I can't have in the same sentence "smart" and "gamble".

Posted by Cheeseness on Aug 22, 2013 ten to two am

Of course the real poetic nature of this won't be revealed until you use the chip to solve a fiendishly difficult puzzle involving baking powder, a shoe and a rather angry crab - one which you wouldn't have escaped without that seemingly worthless chip that you thought was cluttering up your inventory.

I had hoped to have something to give you whilst you were in Australia, but it wasn't ready. Soon! :D

Posted by David T. Marchand on Aug 22, 2013 twenty five past noon

Judging by the amount of misspelling I’ll assume there was a lack of proofreading I can only attribute to this being very hard for you to write.

We can barely imagine the terrible problems your willpower has saved you from.

For that, I am grateful.

Posted by Ron Gilbert on Aug 22, 2013 twenty to one pm

HA! No, the spelling mistakes are that I suck at spelling and can't proofread my own stuff because I keep reading what I thought I wrote, not what I wrote. Besides, who cares.

Posted by Judith Lucero on Aug 22, 2013 half past six pm

Who cares?


Because it's nice to know that some things never change.

Posted by David T. Marchand on Aug 23, 2013 twenty past eight am

Dammit Ron, it fit my theory!

Posted by BuyGrush on Aug 22, 2013 ten to one pm

Congrats on the restraint!
Now wouldn't it feel even better to put that 1K towards charity, instead of letting it gather dust?
Just an idea...

Posted by Anti on Aug 22, 2013 ten past two pm


Posted by Damian on Aug 22, 2013 three pm

Wow, nice story! Thanks for sharing. :)

I'm amazed at your willpower.
Maybe you can return to Australia someday and use that chip? Or are you planning to keep it forever? (because, yes, the story is way better than spending it in 10 minutes).

Posted by Peter.K. on Aug 22, 2013 twenty five past six pm

Ahh I see now where the inspiration for that Monkey Island 2 gambling puzzle came from.

Posted by brawsome on Aug 22, 2013 half past seven pm

My takeaway from this story is you now have 1000 reasons to visit Melbourne again.

Posted by Hoffmann on Aug 23, 2013 twenty past one pm

Now all you have to do is change your name to Courier and get shot in the head by a random guy in a suit.

Posted by Someone on Aug 23, 2013 twenty five to two pm

yeahh $1000 is nothing!!! good job!! 1000$ means nothing for people that is not having anything to eat. You are my hero!

Posted by Ian on Aug 23, 2013 twenty five past six pm

I'm sure having such a great story to tell (with a punchline in your pocket) will be worth more than 1000$ over the years...

Posted by Davide on Aug 27, 2013 twenty five to nine am

With that 1000$ you could give one year of food and a Commodore (with a Basic interpreter on it) to a poor boy..

Posted by velcrogoblin on Aug 28, 2013 half past seven pm

it's so strange to read this. i don't know why.

you where the creator of a lot of good moments in my life and that was it.
this makes you more human.

it's so obvious, but it's strange anyway.

Posted by George32027 on Sep 2, 2013 ten to five pm

I beg your pardon, is that a platinum chip?

Posted by thetrustingone on Sep 3, 2013 five to six am

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