…I Broke Even

I live in a state that does not offer the lottery or gambling. So a common “quick trip” that we in the Salt Lake and surrounding valleys take to get our fix – is to Wendover, Nevada (literally at the Utah/Nevada stateline). There are a handful of casinos and it is only a 90 minute drive away.

Lee and I get a wild hair every once in a while to go lose money and come home sad. That is the truth… while the typical response to the question “Did you win?” is “Nah, I broke even” which happens to be the biggest and most widely accepted lie in Utah.

We decided to go 2 days ago and unfortunately, and of course, there were no promotions for free rooms the night we wanted to go. We have comped rooms almost every other weeknight during every single month – but of course we chose one that did not qualify. That should have been a warning sign right there – but we seem to avoid those when it specifically does not suit us.

We stayed at the Rainbow casino in a “mini suite” with a jacuzzi tub in the room. It was $129.99 without tax – so, not cheap. What it looked like was a regular hotel room in a rectangle shape that had a jacuzzi tub installed where the couch used to be. Other than that and a steam shower (that burned my ankle) in the bathroom, it was extremely un-glamorous. I don’t know why but when I go there I always expect glitz and glamour when really it is nothing but cheap carpet and stale cigarette smoke.

That is me romanticizing gambling – like I do with just about everything else. It’s not pretty and it’s not good. Every drive home I have a sick stomach and a mind full of regrets – not to mention the empty pockets. I have considered myself “lucky” my whole life because I usually “win” at least small amounts whenever we go there… or do I??

I decided to read up on gambling while we were there, specifically on slot machines because that’s where my weakness lies and I learned that I may not be so lucky after all… I’m just drawn to a non-volatile machine that suckers you in with small wins as it is really sucking you dry. It’s a mental victory for casinos, not to mention monetary victory, but they got you where they want you with the tease of the big win.

I won’t go into depth about volatile and not so volatile machines but you can read up on them in your spare time, if you wish, and I highly recommend that you do prior to your next casino jaunt. But in a nutshell the volatility of a slot machine game measures the risk involved in playing a particular slot for the real money. And it determines how you win at slots. If a slot has low volatility, it means the wins are more frequent. But they’re smaller, too. High volatility slots have rarer wins, but they are bigger.

The odds of any machine are made up of how many possible other combinations besides the winning one, that there are on the spinning reels. Just an example for the old machines is this: 3 reals with 10 different symbols each and sometimes including the blank spaces in between give you odds of like 30,000 to 1. With the newer machines that have 7 reels and 20 different symbols on each… you do the math.

If I was to put a number on the amount of money that I have lost at casinos it would be in the $10 -$20,000 range, I would guess… if not more. When I think of all the exotic places I could have gone instead of wasting my time with cheap carpet and stale cigarette smoke… I get sad. Lol.

So here’s the thing – I may have finally learned a very expensive lesson. I have never “broken even” when it comes to gambling and if people are truly honest about what they put in as opposed to what they get out… they probably haven’t either.

So the next time Lee and I feel the need to lose money – I think we’ll go throw it in the ocean in Hawaii instead.

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