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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

Ramblin’ around
gamblin’ town

Slot machines greeted Amanda and me when we stepped off Southwest Airlines Flight 2103 in Las Vegas, Nevada late Tuesday. Slot machines were everywhere in the city made famous for its 24/7 gambling casinos, where you can wager a bet in thousands of ways.

In the hotel corridor, I fed $2 into a cold drink machine, got 25 cents in return, but no water. That should have been a clue that Lady Luck was not with me. Since I wasn’t there to gamble anyway, it didn’t worry me.

Amanda picked some nice shows and attractions for us to enjoy, and I slept while she tried her luck with the “Wheel of Fortune” slot machines and Keno the first two days. On Day three, we took free lessons in Blackjack, Roulette and Craps. Neither of us cared for the crap table. She liked Roulette, while my aim was to win Smokey a few dollars at Blackjack, my favorite of card games as a wild child.

So on Friday, after we checked out of the hotel with eight hours to kill before our flight for Midland, she took the Roulette wheel and I tried my skill at Blackjack. The first $10 went quickly on the $5 minimum bet table. So I invested another $20 of Smokey’s stake. Remembering childhood advice from friends who had lived in Las Vegas, I placed small bets, and when I lost, doubled the bet on the next hand.

That strategy worked for awhile, and I had a nice stack of chips. Having promised myself to quit while ahead and bring Smokey a nice return on his investment, I considered cashing out. But having so much time to kill, I decided to stay for awhile. Bad decision. When a new dealer came to the table, I started to lose, and the stack dwindled to a few half dollars.

I left the table for lunch, kibitzed at the Roulette wheel for awhile, then went back for another try with a female dealer and Smokey’s last $20. Man, she took my chips with no remorse. All I carried away were three “Slots-a-Lot” dollar tokens and six silver profiles of Jack Kennedy.

So much for my gambling career. Now all I have to worry about is whether to give Smokey the silver remnants of his $50 bill; give back his $50 with a modest profit; or eat the whole loss and give him the $100 he would have gotten had I taken my own advice to quit while ahead.

Spending four days with my precious granddaughter was worth more than any gambling winnings, even if she did make me the first great-grandmother to invade “Coyote Ugly.” If you have seen the movie, you know what I mean. If not, don’t waste your money.

“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:7, NIV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. Contact her at

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