I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends

I Get By with a Little Help From My Friends

The last week in May, Bonnie and I will spend aboard a railroad traveling through the Canadian Rockies. We’re scheduled to travel east from Vancouver and fly home from Calgary eight days later. Although we will be back in Vegas before you read this, and I may well write about that trip, I’m writing this blog while still in Vegas.

Why that’s important is because more than one of the casinos I frequent had monthly “playups” in May of various sorts, where for so many points during the month, I get certain prizes. One that takes a lot of time is the South Point half-price Chevron or Walmart gift cards, requiring almost $167,000 in coin-in for Bonnie and me combined. And I only have three weeks to get in that play instead of four.

I didn’t have to get it all in. Every $8,334 in coin-in earns a $50 card (up to 10 per person), so I can cash in as much as I’ve played. But it’s a good deal, and I set out to get them all.

On Thursday, May 5, I went to bed early and got up about 2 a.m. I headed off to South Point. My usual video poker games are 9/6 Jacks Five Play Multi Strike and NSU Deuces Wild. There are also a few slots I sometimes play there, depending . . .

My score went up and down, and the majority of my play that day was on Multi Strike. I finished up around 8 a.m., and I was pretty tired. I hadn’t slept that much the night before, and it was more than five hours of concentration. I recorded my score (-$955 for the day) and how many points I put on my card and Bonnie’s. I visited the restroom and then drove towards home.

About 15 minutes later I get a call from Richard Munchkin. He asked me if I’m at the South Point. I told him I left a bit ago.

He said he’d received an email from a player named “Al,” who wasn’t sure it was me who did it, but he thought I had left my player’s card and some money in the Multi Strike machine. Apparently, Al had an email address for Richard, but not for me.


This was hardly a disaster. I only had $45 in credits when I finished, and getting a new player card is easily accomplished. Still, this is a sign of something not so good (Forgetfulness at the minimum — letting being tired cause me to lose concentration — possibly dementia? Who knows? But these kinds of things don’t usually happen to me.)

I turned my car around and headed back. I asked Richard to send me the email and I’d try to get in touch with the guy. 

There was no money or card in “my” machine, but a man I didn’t recognize was playing on a machine a few spots over. I walked over and asked him if his name was Al. He said yes. When he had seen what I had done, he called the slot attendant over and told him he thought it was Bob Dancer who left it behind. The slot department has the card and ticket somewhere. 

I thanked him profusely. I asked if I could buy him a meal or perhaps do something else for him? He declined. He said he’d gotten a lot of value from the podcast and he was happy to return the favor.

I figured out something he couldn’t refuse. Along with a friend, we’ve come up with a computer perfect strategy for 9/6 JoB Multi Strike. I asked him if I could email him a copy. I figure the enhancements improve the strategy on the software by 0.01% or so, not a tremendous improvement, but certainly it’s better. And if you play that game a lot for $25 a hand, it adds up.

Al told me he’d be interested in seeing the “new and improved” strategy. I promised to send it later that day. 

I checked some specific slot machines I like, found them in a state I thought was positive, and in the next half hour turned my negative score into a positive one twice as large. To be sure, that’s just positive variance (earlier I was quite a bit in the hole on the same machine), but going home $2,000 ahead instead of almost $1,000 behind felt good.

And it all happened from a Good Samaritan. Many other people would have done the same thing as Al did, but certainly not everybody. Having one of the good guys find my mistake before anybody else did made my day! In my book, that was very good luck!