You Can't Win if You Don't Play

Reflections on a successful poker session and some free stuff

A funny thing happens when you go to a casino with three coworkers who have little to no gambling experience among them: They go straight to the busiest bar in the house, have a couple drinks and then do things they’re not supposed to do, like take cellphone pictures of slot machines being repaired.

When a group of CityBeat staffers (and a couple friends) met up for our Wednesday night excursion to the new casino five blocks away from our office, it was with the understanding that: 1. The place was brand new and would probably be really shiny; 2. Most of the casino staff was recently trained, so there was a high likelihood we’d see some angry gamblers (although the casino staffed extra managers from around the region to help out); and 3. Someone needed to win some money or we were all going home sad. 

The casino was indeed pretty clean, but we didn’t see any major dustups like the craps dice bouncing up and hitting anyone in the belly (a common complaint among southeastern Indiana casinos, we’re told). 

Suffice it to say my coworkers didn’t give themselves much of a chance to hit it big, playing only $20 worth of slots each, although Jac Kern did everything she could to look the part of the well-traveled, high-stakes gambler. (See “The Art of Glambling” here.) 

I didn’t mean to start the night off in such an anti-social fashion, but the poker room manager surprisingly had a seat open at a no-limit table when I walked up and, as is often the case in public poker settings, the competition looked pretty weak. (Note: Judging poker players based on their appearance is actually even less accurate than when you judge people in normal life — even the ones wearing University of Kentucky sweatpants and talking about how President Obama is a Medicaid-stealing socialist can sometimes handle the cursory social skills necessary to excel at poker. When they take your money it’s doubly annoying.) 

But in this case, my judgment was correct: Most of these guys sucked. 

There were several people at least relatively new to the game, including the guy forcing most of the action by shoving all his chips in the pot every time he made a pair — not even pairing the best card on the board; just any pair. He also mumbled something about having a lot of money because “puppies go for $300 each,” so he was going to be around awhile. This was the dude I wanted to be in a hand with. 

Unfortunately, I never got to mix it up with ’ol puppy man, but the guy to his left had an affinity for playing crappy cards even after showing them to puppy man, who at one point grimaced at the sight. I’m guessing he had something like a 2 and a 5 in a hand we played, although I never found out because when I showed him my flush he just looked at puppy man like I was a big ’ol jerk and tossed his cards in the muck. 

I won about $130 in that hand, and having recently won another hand that Jac and the other coworkers missed because some dude started petting her fur coat while she stood behind my table, I took a break to share the news. 

I walked past the table games outside the poker room, stopping to watch the action at the craps table, where dudes shimmied stacks of green $25 chips around like nickels while others yelled, “Six!” and “Eight!” and “Anything but a [expletive] seven!” I was about to put some of my winnings down on the table — craps is easy if you just follow the lead of a person who seems to know what’s going on — but just then I received a text message that read: “We have VIP tickets! Come to the cloudy room!” 

This seemed like a worthwhile endeavor. 

The Diamond Lounge is the Horseshoe’s VIP area, and although it wasn’t poppin’ off on this Wednesday night, the bartender was nice and there was plenty of space at the bar for me to tell the coworkers my detailed poker stories. They didn’t care at all but offered the requisite eye contact typically afforded to work-friends who buy the first round after winning money.

The lounge was less crowded and less noisy than the gaming floor, so we had another drink and learned from the friendly staff about the Jameson-dispensing soda-gun and how the female employees’ uniforms were individually tailored for them. I thought I figured out a way to sneak back in there once we’re relegated back to non-Diamond Club status, but I doubt I’ll ever try it.*

We decided to call it a night around 10 p.m., although Hannah McCartney saw somebody she knew and decided to stay longer, promising to make up for any potential lack of Thursday morning productivity by bringing in bagels for the staff, which she didn’t do. 

We didn’t end up cruising the city in a jackpot-funded limo or anything, but at least I had two hundred bucks. 

*Totally going to try it. 

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