Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mercurial Mike's Trip Report - Damn The Newfangled Gaming Machines

I sometimes read the many forums dedicated to the Las Vegas visitor. OK, heck, I admit it -- I am a member of a few of them and have contributed to the discussion threads occasionally. Always under the pseudonym "Mercurial Mike" to protect the Innocent (me).

I have a story which I would post to a forum, but instead chose to now post to my own blog ( I don't know if the forums are ready for this one ). As far as I can tell, I am a "local" Las Vegas resident ( actually, I live in neighboring Henderson ) so I really can't call the following a trip report, except to say that it occurred in Pahrump, Nevada, a sixty mile drive from Vegas. It is more like a "gaming experience", for lack of a better category. I swear on my lucky rabbit's foot that it is all true:

My wife and I visited Pahrump recently on business, and we decided to visit the Nugget Casino, where we ate in their coffee shop and touched the penny Megabucks machine that recently spit out 17 million dollars to some lucky SOB.

While strolling around the casino after an excellent under-priced and over-caloried breakfast, I begin talking to a much older gentleman who is sitting at one of these newfangled multi-denom ( ticket in - ticket out ) machines. For the uninitiated, IGT (International Gaming Technology) or Bally - the two chief video poker machine manufactures - came out with the brilliant idea of having one video poker machine that the gamer can set up to play just about any variety of video poker (deuces wild, joker, bonus, double bonus, etc.) at any denomination of play (5 cents, 10 cents, quarter, dollar, etc.). The older gentleman has an oxygen tank and is hard of hearing, but we have a nice talk about oxygen tanks, dollar video poker, and retirement in Pahrump. A really nice old man, with some real medical problems. After chatting with him for a while, I walk away to talk to my wife and relieve myself in the Men's room. Then I ask the cocktail waitress for a drink.

Well, while I was walking away with my drink of black coffee, I happen to pass by the old man. He is staring at his video screen. I ask him if he was lucky today, and he points gleefully to his screen. He tells me that he just won $800 playing dollars (double double bonus, four aces, no kicker). I notice that his winnings have not registered on the machine yet, because, he explains to me, he was just dealt a natural winning hand. He knew enough to immediately hold all five cards, or at least the four aces. So far so good.

But then the old man does an amazingly dumb thing. Instead of hitting the draw button and claiming his $800 prize, he points four times to the cards on the screen to showoff the four aces to me. Touching the screen four times, he is unaware that he has removed the holds on each ace card, because the machine also has this newfangled touchscreen feature! Before I can chop his arm off (or pull it away!), he then hits the deal button and he throws away his 800 dollar jackpot!

I am beginning to feel that I had distracted him, thereby contributing to his "dumb luck", so I just walk away shaking my head. ( Later on I apologized to him. He seemed confused and dazed.)

Where are the good old days when the machine would freeze after a big jackpot and you were hand-payed? The new machines give you a chance to screw up and throw away jackpots! Somebody told me ( I would not know from my own experience ) that it is even possible with these new-fangled machines to throw away a Royal Flush by mistake. Some may argue that it is the player's responsibly to know what they are doing. But, game designers, please!! --- don't give the players any chance to screw up after a legitimate win!! I think that was a very bad game design decision on the game designer's part!

Freeze the machine or immediately spit out a ticket! That old man's blunder cost him $800; and probably many more like him are only making the casino richer - shame on you, IGT! Shame on you Bally!


Post a Comment