I like doing little informal surveys, and I relay some of the results a few times a year after readers tell me about their first royal flush, back-to-back slot jackpots or odd things that have happened at the blackjack table.
One of the things I've been asking of late is how people came to play their favorite games. Why did Jared start to play craps in the first place? Why is Ellen a roulette player?
It's not just a matter of shot to win. If it was, everybody would be flocking to the games with the lowest house edges, starting with blackjack, craps, baccarat and the best video poker games. So why do we choose the games we do?
Jared: I'm not sure I had a choice. It was kind of a command performance. I've always gotten along with my wife's brother, even before we got married. We watch football together on Sundays, have a beer sometimes. He goes to Atlantic City a few times a year, and Cathy said, "You guys should go together sometime." I'd never been to a casino before, but I played poker with the guys, so I wasn't above the odd wager.
I figured I'd just play the slots and maybe some blackjack. We'd played some blackjack at our card games, so I at least knew the rules. But Kenny said, "We'll play craps. That's the best game." He got out big sheet of drawing paper and diagrammed a table and tried to explain it to me. To be honest, I had no idea what he was talking about. But when we got to A.C. and started to play, it all came together. It was just fun. We won a little and lost a little, and lost a little overall, but whenever the shooter made a couple of points and the cheers went up, man, that was great.
I didn't see anybody else in the casino having as good a time as the craps guys. So that's what I've played ever since.
Ellen: The first time my husband and I went to Las Vegas, we signed up for those players club cards. We only brought about $300 to play with and we were playing mostly nickel and quarter slots - and by nickel slots I mean the old three-reel games where you were betting 15 cents a spin.
We didn't really play enough to earn any comps and didn't really think anything of it. But a month or so later, we got a flyer in the mail offering a room for $19 a night, and $55 in match-play chips. Mark and I decided we'd use the chips to try roulette. We went to the table together. I was the player, and he stood behind me, and we'd decide what bets to make together. They were just red-black bets, $5 of our own and a $5 matchplay chip each time. We got on a little bit of roll and won eight of the 11 bets. Let's see if I get this right now. We lost $15 of our own on the three losses, but we won $10 on each of the eight winners. That meant we had a $65 profit. That was HUGE for us.
He took $20 of that and bought in himself. There was only a $1 minimum and you could use quarter chips. We started to play around with single numbers and all the combinations. We had some luck. We played for a couple of hours and won another $50. It's been my favorite game ever since. I love it.
Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44 and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ). Gambling author and columnist John Grochowski's weekly newspaper column began at the Chicago Sun-Times and is now syndicated nationally. He also regularly makes TV and radio appearances about gambling. His column appears weekly.