Often when we read about a huge slot machine jackpots, the winner boasts of having won in a short period of time. The news reports usually say the winner hit the big one within one or two pulls.
A huge bugaboo, regular players say, is the fear of playing a machine for a long time, and just after they get up, someone else sitting down and “hitting” the jackpot. It makes sense that if someone just puts a few coins in and wins, that a lot of other people had to have played it before that and lost! But we rarely hear about the frustration of the players who were at machines just before they paid off. Sometimes that frustration goes far beyond what we might think.
One of the most infamous of these incidents, happened several years ago when quarter slot machines were just beginning to take hold in Vegas. Video machines were still in their infancy and familiar “cherry and sevens” reel slots were still the thing for non-live gaming (craps, table blackjack, roulette, etc.).
One gentleman had been playing a particular quarter machine while he and his wife waited to see Tom Jones’ show.
As the midnight hour neared, the man’s wife got in line to enter the showroom, letting her husband eke out a few more minutes of playing time. (Back then there was usually an 8 p.m. early show and a second show at midnight.) As the story goes, he uttered the usual “I know this is gonna hit,” repeatedly, as he continually forestalled getting on line.
His wife kept beckoning him to come over because the line was getting smaller and smaller and the room was filling up. She was growing increasingly tired of being mistaken for an usherette, waving couple after couple past her on the line.
(Then, it was also true that you didn’t buy a ticket in advance, guaranteeing your seat inside, regardless of what time you showed up. You made a reservation for the show and then got a seat in the room after waiting on line. That’s why getting a “line pass” to go right to the beginning of the line was so coveted. Where you sat, depended on how nicely you treated the maitre d’ or captain (with the proverbial deformed hand) that seated you. Except for the complimentary VIP seats, the rest of them were given away on a first-come, first-serve basis ”¦ or to the highest bidder. Once you were seated and ordered your cocktails, you paid your entire show and drink tab at the table or booth.)
Our slot player’s wife was making her way to the front of the line where almost every seat, by that time, been given away. The showroom darkened and the introductory music for Tom’s opening act began to play.
The woman frantically left the line and ran over to her husband and pleaded, begged and finally just dragged him away from the machine towards the showroom.
As the man indignantly plodded to the showroom with his wife, he peered over his shoulder and watched a lady sit down at his machine. Before he and his wife got into the showroom, bells and whistles started going off. A $25,000 quarter jackpot had been hit!
Yes, it was the machine our poor soul had been playing since the dinner hour.
The man started to shout and throw a tantrum, ranting and raving, “That’s my machine! That’s my jackpot. You *@#^$@%$*”¦you took me away from my jackpot! I should’ve won!”
He continued to get increasingly violent, shouting obscenities at his wife and looking as though he was about to get physical. That’s when security guards rushed over to calm the man down. After the situation was defused, he was escorted to his hotel room.
His wife? As soon as the security guards took her husband aside, she scurried into the showroom alone.
She probably figured her husband was going to spend the night with Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Jose Cuervo, so she might as well spend it with Tom Jones.