Friday, September 9, 2016

Actually Caring About The Outcome

Thursday, September 8th

At about 7 PM, I walked into the Harrah's Casino with 52 cents in my pocket.
I wanted to watch the opening football game of the NFL season.

A part of my brain was telling me that priority one was to get out there and begin busking immediately; hoping that the spotlight stayed bright enough for me to make a couple bucks before I was sitting in darkness like some shady figure to cross the street away from; and hoping that the strings would not break before I had made 5 bucks for a new set, or that they broke in such a way that I could fix them quickly and continue playing.

The casino has always been an interesting environment for me. Almost like a place where black magic is practiced.

I always feel like I have the psychic ability to "hit the jackpot," but that, in doing so, I would be squandering that ability, which I might be able to put towards more spiritual pursuits.

I couldn't help wondering about the couple hundred gamblers in there, sitting at roulette wheels and card tables. What would they think if they knew that I had only 52 cents; not even enough to do any wagering business with?

And, were there any there, among that notoriously superstitious set, who might see me as a sign of luck...sometimes you'll see someone and your initial reaction will be to look down upon him, he might be weird looking and might only have 52 cents upon him, but sometimes Lady Luck disguises herself in order to test where your heart is...

I went into the area where sits a circular bar which faces an array of TVs, arranged in a semicircle, and also in a way that, there is no place to just sit and watch them other than the bar, at which you will be prompted to keep expensive drinks flowing. Every other sofa or padded seat in the place is at placed at an extreme angle to the TV sets, and so, watching the game for free involves standing somewhere.

I leaned against the back of one of the sofas in a "reserved" area that hadn't apparently been reserved by anyone and began to watch the pregame hype, waiting for a uniformed guy with a radio clipped to his belt to approach and ask something designed to elicit from me if I was going to spend money; ready to notify someone on the radio about an "undesirable," should my answers fall short.

I had a fantasy, during my few trips to the restroom, of laying my hand briefly on the shoulder of one of the gamblers, causing (it might seem) the slot machine to explode with light and sound as the mega super jackpot is hit, and the tokens begin to spill out all over the place.

It's a singular phenomenon in the casino that people seem to suspend their judgement of others, either in deference to the great gambling spirits, or because they are being paid to do so.

I would have thought that the smile on the face of the waitress who walked past me at one point was genuine, as was the one on the girl at the front security podium, had I not suspected otherwise. It's their job to be friendly, I imagined. What a contrast to the ubiquitous scowls on the faces of the people just outside the casino and throughout the French Quarter. I guess both are just as disingenuous, and people's true emotions fall into the middle range.

There can be no doubt that people put on airs at the casino, and that wealth is exalted, if not worshiped.

And, sprinkled among the people with money who are there to gamble are the "casino skeezers," one of whom I recognized from Sacred Heart Apartments, where I live. He was sitting on the bench in the smoking area and appeared to be availing himself to the remainders of cigarettes that people snuffed into the sand of the ashtrays, the drinks that people set down half full, maybe because too much of the ice had melted for their tastes, and because they are free anyway, for people who have money and are gambling, and he appeared to be skeezing.

At one point, a late middle aged woman, who appeared well dressed and well lit, had sat on the bench next to him. It was at this point that I noticed that the skeezer who lives in my apartment building was kind of dressed for skeezing at the casino.

There is certain garb that the rich choose to wear when they are "totally taking it easy" which, while it might tell the world, "I just threw on some shorts and a tee shirt to relax in," it still presents clues to the well trained eye. The tee shirt might have a design commemorating a yachting event, or the logo of a exclusive college, a company that the guy might own, or even the name of some port city in Florida where the mean income is thrice the national average. Open toed sandals are popular, as they might display pedicured feet, or feet that are uniformly tanned, as if to indicate that the person enjoys plenty of vacationing. It's a getup that say's: "I don't have to dress to impress; I'm secure in my station in life; but in a way, I kind of did."

The skeezer was there, in open toed sandals, wearing a tee shirt with something about the University of Utah on it, and was chatting up the woman, who was at the point of slurring her speech. I could only imagine what his skeeze was. His wardrobe was undoubtedly intended to fool the casino staff, so that he could skeeze under their noses.

When I went back inside, I took a quick look around, noticing now a lot more suspicious looking characters.

I suppose that I was skeezing a free football game, and I plan to go back this Sunday night, when my team, The Patriots are likely to be on their TVs, as they are playing on Sunday Night Football.
I stepped outside and was smoking a cigarette and standing not far from a very expensive looking car; one of those Lotus or Lamborghini types.

A couple of other casino skeezer looking types were sitting nearby. I noticed that they seemed to be looking my way and had smirks on their faces. I think that they thought that I had purposely stood next to the fancy car so that people might think that it was mine. I guess that is the level that they function at, and what they would have been doing if the car was theirs, and I guess that sums up why I don't waste my "psychic ability" at casinos.

I like to think that I have evolved above the attachment to material objects.

Now if I can just let go of my attachment to watching a bunch of athletes whom I don't know play football, and actually caring about the outcome...


alex carter said...

There are two "casinos" near me. (Actually in California they're card rooms, not full casinos due to our weird gambling laws, which are at least liberal compared to those of Hawaii where I grew up and where the laws are essentially that there be no type of gambling anywhere, of any type.) Bay101 kind of has the atmosphere of a highschool dining room, if said dining room were full of, instead of highschool students, Asians with gambling problems. The other one, M8trix, is a little bit more classy but doesn't seem to do the sheer amount of business Bay101 does.

I once got talking at the bar at M8trix with a guy who professed to make "$150 a day or so" by playing blackjack for, I guess, a few hours in the evening. I could certainly get with doing that if I knew how, but then, would that few hours be nerve-wracking enough that $150 a day would feel like a poor reward?

Bay101 has a problem with homeless people sneaking in, so if you look "the type" you'll get the cold shoulder, although it didn't get as far with me as with some black guys I know, who flat-out got told to leave. They said he would happen to me eventually once they figured out I don't gamble, and the atmosphere in there did get a bit frosty eventually. There are guys in there, a bunch of Filipinos, who hang out in one area and will buy your daughters iPad you brought with you, or your Rolex or "Rolex" or anything you might want to sell, for gambling money. They've got a nice little business going there. I also met a professional ticket scalper who told me that the real money's not in the tickets, but in the parking passes. He had ways of getting "promotional" tickets to events, and then would schmooze all the parking passes he could. Again, nice work if you can get it.

alex carter said...

Part II:

I considered getting into gambling when I moved here, thinking that even an extra $20 a day is huge money for me, but realized after a lot of reading online that I'd be competing with people who cut their teeth on the big online gambling fad that used to exist, before they were out of grade school.

This is not to say there isn't money to be made, but I'd want to play a lot of gambling games on my computer before trying it out in real life. Critical to understanding it is to understand that gambling addicts don't want to win per se, they want to keep gambling. So you get the slot-machine addicts who throw any winnings right back into the machine, and the "degenerates" who stay up until 4AM seemingly happy to lose their childrens' college fund to you, if the YELP reviews of Bay101 are to be believed.