Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The cost of free money

(Or, how to lose $500 dreaming of a thousand.)

This is a big week at the Muckleshoot Indian Casino, my card room of choice. In one of its quarterly promotions for regular poker players, the Muck is giving away $100,000 this week. On Monday through Friday nights, every hour from 7 to 10 p.m., they're drawing five names from a big barrel and giving each winner an envelope containing $1,000. They keep drawing until they get five winners an hour, so that's $5,000 an hour, $20,000 a night, $100,000 over the course of the week.

Free money!

All you had to do to qualify for the drawing was play a minimum of 25 hours over the past three months (they track your hours via credit card-type readers built in to every table). The more hours you played, the more tickets you had in the tub, but really any semi-regular had at least two tickets; I have three or four. Some wackos have dozens.

The only catch is that you have to be in the room when your name is called. What that means is that the place is packed like I've never seen it, even in the old days when they had "bad beat" jackpot promotions that sometimes topped $200,000. On Monday night, all 18 tables in the main room were full, and half of the newer "back room" was full too. There must have been 24 or 25 games going. And the excitement: It was like Christmas morning for degenerates.

I showed up on Monday night because, hey, I've got a shot, and it's free money! At 7 o'clock, the name Tuan Lee was called, and everyone cheered; they know Tuan. Except when he walked to the barrel to claim his winnings he was informed that, sorry, the winner was Tuan Ly, L-Y, a different guy. Who wasn't even there.

Two people whose tickets were drawn but who weren't present showed up half an hour later to learn their tardiness had cost them $1,000. Two other players, both present, were drawn twice over the course of the night -- two grand each for both of them.

For me, nothing, which shouldn't be a huge surprise. My paltry few tickets are a giant underdog in this promotion.

Meanwhile, in trying to pull down my share of the booty, I didn't have one of my better nights in my regular $4/8 game. Lost a hundred bucks, in fact. At this rate, I thought, I could lose $500 this week dreaming the unlikely dream of winning a thousand. Maybe I wouldn't make this a regular stop after all.

But then my friend David e-mailed me suggesting we play today (he's on vacation this week). So, good friend that I am, I trundled out there this afternoon. Always thinking of others, that's me, never ever myself.

Sadly, the scene and the results were similar. A lot of degenerates, a lot of oohs and ahs as familiar names were called, and even one "Mark" but, alas, not me. And I lost another hundred bucks. Poop.

David, playing at my same table, was on fire and won several hundred. Poker's dumb.

I got up to leave after the 8 p.m. drawing. The dealer at our table, Vinh, protested: "The drawing's not over yet," he said. "Two more hours."

Yeah, I said, but I can't afford to stick around and see if I win.


Jim Thomsen said...

I don't play poker, but every time I see the words "Muckleshoot Indian Casino," I knee-jerk blink back to my high school years passed down the road at Auburn Adventist Academy ... and that I walked past where that casino is at least once a month when my friends and I skipped Friday night vespers services, sneaked out of the dorm and headed down the hill for forbidden Pizza Hut meat-lovers' pizzas and Cokes. What utter badasses we were.

And had the casino been in existence in 1982, I shudder to think of what teenage shenanigans we might have been inspired to attempt.

(Wait: Now that I think about it, we did play five-card draw for pennies and Rice Krispies treats in the dorm. While, of course, swapping entertaining lies about how far we were getting with girls. God, how I miss it all.)

kateco said...

i love this blog

Rita said...

It's a riot!