By John Toth The Bulletin
One form of entertainment on cruise ships is the casino, where I was emboldened to try my luck while the Adventure of the Seas sailed across the Gulf of Mexico.
I refined my blackjack skills at the last West Columbia Chamber of Commerce banquet and casino night. We played with fake money, and the dealer also was teaching me how to play to increase my chances of winning. I learned a lot that night and felt like I was ready for the real thing.
Ever since then, I have been itching to sit down at a blackjack table and win back the cost of my cruise and more. I dreamed of even cleaning out a slot machine and maybe even walking off the ship with thousands of dollars of winnings and a free cruise offer from the casino.
Maybe I could get one of those suites and cruise in style next time on the ship's money. I had daydreams of becoming a gambling powerhouse, stuffing hundred-dollar bills in my pockets (minus the taxes withheld).
Sharon, my sensible half who does not like wasting money in slot machines or at blackjack tables, was having none of this. Every time we passed through the ship’s casino, she found some valid reason why we could not sit down at a slot machine and start feeding it money.
She did not start doing this on cruise ships. It goes back to when we were in the Bahamas many years ago - before kids. She began dragging me out of the casino after I fed $60 into a slot machine.
“At least take a picture of me here before we leave,” I suggested.
Back then, we had film in the cameras and used a flash indoors. She snapped a flash photo, and we proceeded to leave. Except, there were three security guards blocking our way, wanting to know why we were taking pictures.
Let’s see. This was a casino in a vacation spot, and we were vacationing tourists, bringing our money here to spend. It was self-explanatory.
They wanted the film in the camera. I don’t think so, I told them. I just spent $60 in a slot machine that I am not all that convinced is legit, so you’re not getting the film. Just be satisfied with the money.
They got the message and backed off. Other than that, the vacation turned out well - except for Sharon reminding me that we could have had $60 more to spend on it.
I didn’t have any doubts about the slot machines on Adventure, and I finally negotiated a deal with Sharon that would let me sit down at one of them and feed it $20. It took about three and a half minutes to say bye-bye to the money. The machine was merciless.
Then a man who had been watching me spoke up.
“We took $4,600 out of this one this afternoon,” he said as I pushed the button one last time, hoping for a miracle.
He began to describe how he and three of his friends did it. They all chipped in to drain the very same slot machine that I was sitting at.
Thanks a lot. It would have been nice to know that before I fed it a $20 bill.
He appeared to be anxious to tell his success story to someone. I wondered if he just stood around that machine to gleefully share his story with people whose money went down the drain.
“You and your friends didn’t happen to play some blackjack also, did you?”
He didn’t hear me. Sharon was getting tired of the cigarette smoke and was ready to leave.
The casino is one of the designated smoking spots on cruise ships. You can smoke there as long as you also gamble.
I’m not a fan of inhaling someone else’s secondhand smoke, so we prepared to leave. Mr. Winning Hand stayed by the machine as if he was waiting for the next player.
I’m not a gambling man and decided to hold off on the blackjack table for a while. Maybe I’ll go to another chamber casino night and get some more tips and confidence.
Then I may try my luck on the next cruise - at least $20 worth. That shouldn’t take too long.