May 30, 2011

Club Regent: Betting and Bettering

I almost made it through the month of May without writing a post. But here I am squeezing one just in time to fill in my archives.

My friend Andrew Parker and I were in the area and we decided to give Club Regent Casino a visit as I'd never been to a casino, and I wanted to see the giant aquarium. The parking lot was jammed full this Saturday night (I bet everyone else wanted to see the aquarium also). That or this is where the middle-aged Winnipeggers go clubbin'.

Walking into the main area was an eyeful. Winding rows upon rows of flashing machines were everywhere. Security cameras were deceivingly tucked away into cliffs, and to my surprise and slight dismay, there were clocks. The entire place had a cheesy beach theme to it: Rocky cliffs, palm trees, artificial waterfalls, and the ceiling was painted a calming baby blue. There were a few sections of Black Jack, Poker and Roulette, but the complex was mostly filled with machines (Bingo machines, Slot machines, Deal or No Deal Machines - sans Howie). Society has gone more digital and standardized, and the casino world has followed suit (aha).  

It was like this, but nearly every machine was taken.

I recall seeing the airport ads for the Casinos of Winnipeg, and I didn't see anyone looking that happy. Most of the hardcores were staring at their machines, intently focused on the whirring slots, flashing buttons and fluctuating numbers. I'm not much of a gambler, and I've never liked taking big risks with money (in Monopoly I avoid buying lots and instead hope to make all of my money by fervently passing Go, and in poker I'll up the ante to 10 when I have a full house because there's the chance someone else might have better).

After perusing a bunch of machines, we discovered that different sections of machines offered different minimum bets. One empty section had a minimum of $40, with a progressive (read: Jackpot) of about $160,000. The casino employee informed us that some people drop $60 and win $4000. But after speaking to us, he quickly retreated saying he'd never risk anything like that because he didn't have any luck.

Andrew seated himself down on a 1 cent machine, with a minimum of 40 cents. I watched as he pressed his luck and the numbers went up and down (but mostly down). I didn't know what I was looking for - the line combinations made absolutely no sense (2 men, 1 diamond and a hay bale made $2, what?). 

It looked like the machine would win and we'd have to say good-bye to Mr. Sir Wilfrid Laurier until we hit the shuffle round, which I think is the equivalent to free spins (we had to ask the guy next to us). We sat back and watched the screen shuffle the cards about 5 times. We must've hit something pretty good, because the pot climbed up to about 635. Add that to the other pot of 165 and we had "eight dollars exactly." We high-tenned, printed our voucher and we got out of there. That 5 minute experience was enough of a gamble, and we were leaving with more than we'd arrived with, so that was a plus. That almost never happens to me when I dare to gamble. (I keep using the pronoun we, but I didn't really contribute anything besides moral support).

The happiest people were the ones at the aquarium.

It was a neat experience - not something I'll be frequenting, as cool as the aquarium was (it had almost all of the Finding Nemo fish!). 

Even though I didn't win anything, I probably left with more than a lot of people left with that evening. It's a little bizarre that money itself is being used as a form of entertainment, but I guess some people think the chance of winning outweighs the risk of losing.

Risk is defined as exposure to danger, harm or loss. I believe in taking some risks, like stepping out of comfort zones or trying new things. But in terms of money, I'll bet I'm just going to stick with losing at Disney Monopoly.