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Best of Pam Droog

Gaming Guru


Life Among the Slots: Players Gotta Play

25 January 2004

I consider myself a very average slot player. Of course, having worked in a casino and having played slots for many years, I've developed certain preferences.

For example, I still prefer real reels to video reels. I like the click-click-click sounds of the reels when they settle on the payline (or not). Usually I play two-coin quarter slots. I believe my money goes a little farther on them. I like the bigger payouts you can get on quarter machines vs. dimes or nickels, but I'm not quite ready to commit to 50-cent or dollar games.

Still, in order to "research" this column for Heart of America Casino & Entertainment News, Gulf Coast Entertainment & Casino News and now for the Frank Scoblete Network, I've played dozens of video reel slots. I have to admit they truly are a lot of fun and very funny with their colorful graphics, bonus rounds and audio effects. It's mind-boggling to find games based on everything from board games to Harley-Davidsons, soap operas to the Three Stooges, even strippers and Spam. How else would I ever get Regis Philbin, Frankie Avalon or Dick Clark to talk to me? But, despite their technological advances, these machines seem more like video games than slot machines to me.

Stalking the perfect slot

There's still plenty of fun to be had on reel slots, especially "games that do things," as I call them. For example, I like the Diamond Deluxe games that stop, then shift. It's like you get a second chance to win. The variations, like Black Cherry and Louisiana Louie, are fun to play, too. I also like the Haywire and Chaos games that make those crazy noises and give you a win over and over again.

I'll admit, in my quest for a slot that meets all of my qualifications I've done some things I'm not very proud of. I've stalked machines until the players got spooked and left. I've whined to floor personnel about players sitting at one machine who, every now and then, would put a coin into the game beside them--the one I wanted to play.

I guess I hit the bottom at a smallish but very crowded casino in Illinois. I could only find one two-coin 25-cent Diamond Deluxe game. There sat a sweet little old lady, obviously waiting on her companion at the machine next to her. Did I leave the poor thing alone? No, I (politely) made her get up and move so I could play.

Well, what would YOU have done?

In general, I like the solitariness of playing slots. I don't have to answer any questions or solve anyone's problems. Somehow, despite the noise and traffic all around me, I find playing slots to be very therapeutic and stress-relieving. I can turn off my brain for a while.

I like to wander around the casino and play different games. Even when I win a nice little jackpot on a machine, usually I'll put a few more coins in then move on. I don't want to press my luck.

Have you seen these?

In my wanderings I sometimes see things I can't believe. Maybe you've seen some of these, too:

  • The player who's talking on a cell phone (How can she hear a thing?), smoking, drinking a cocktail and playing the machine in front of her and the ones on either side.

  • The player who's got three bungee cords attached to herself at one end, and to three different slots at the other ends. She looks like an alien plugged into her life-support system while she's visiting Planet Earth.

  • The player next to you who keeps looking over at your machine while you play, concerned that you might hit a jackpot and he won't.

  • The player who sits down next to you while you're happily playing, then pulls out and lights up the stinkiest smoke you ever smelled.

  • The player who hits the "Spin Reel" button non-stop, regardless of whether he won anything or not, until it spins the reel again.

  • The player who plays just one little coin at a time--although it's none of your business, it drives you totally nuts!

But players gotta play. They'll put on their face masks or tote their oxygen tanks (I wish I'd had one on more than one occasion at poorly ventilated casinos). I even heard about a guy who had himself rolled into a Las Vegas casino on a gurney and proceeded to play Wheel of Fortune!

Until next time, enjoy life among the slots.