For the first time in my life, I entered a casino. My son and I had the occasion to be on the Potawatomi Reservation so we decided to get lunch at the casino and to try our hands at gambling. I had heard there were nickle slot machines in there. Reality was even better for a high roller like me: penny slots!
When I looked in my purse, the only cash I had was one solitary five dollar bill - 500 chances to win big. To go large. And if my usual dismal luck followed me into the casino, losing five dollars would not make my stomach hurt.
I changed the five into ones and gave my son a bill. We wandered around trying to find a slot machine that would make us rich. We found a row of machines with a buffalo theme, an auspicious sign. Two rubes fresh off the streets, we fed our dollars into the machines and then simply stared at the all the buttons and lights. There were actually no instructions. The first button we selected was the "cash payout" button, so the machines promptly returned paper tickets worth a dollar each. We were breaking even!
We eventually got the hang of it - sort of. I watched my son for a while and he seemed to be winning but it was confusing. At one point he won $7.68. I made him take a payout, since it was my money he was playing. I intended to hang on to that ticket no matter what.
My son tried to explain to me how to double and triple the play to improve my odds, but all I saw were his credits going down on the machine rapidly. I told him my game plan was to give myself the most number of chances to win, which meant one penny = one play. He had twenty of his own money, so he soon moved on to another, flashier machine.
I took over his winning penny machine and got down to the business of pushing a button every five seconds like the rest of the gamblers in there. I eventually lost one dollar but was willing to double down. That second dollar won a series of free games which the machine automatically plays, and surprise: no free game won anything. I won about fifty free games on that dollar. It was fun winning free games, certainly worth a dollar. Then I won $2.93 - flashing lights and animated gold coins spinning across the multicolored screen, bells ringing and happy music celebrating my good fortune. It was exciting! I took that win in cash... well, in the form of a paper ticket.
By the time I had lost the rest of my second dollar, my son had blown through his twenty, so I gave him my last two cash dollars. He had won money three or four times, almost $18 in total but instead of cashing out, he continued to play. I had the $2.93 and the $7.68 tickets so we were going to walk out of there with a little cash. He wanted to play the $7.68 for a final chance at winning "real" money. He lost it all playing high odds in no time.
To my son's immense amusement, I cashed the $2.93 ticket at the door. He was teasing and laughing at me over my "winnings". I just reminded him that I was not the fool leaving without a cent.