Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

Once upon a time, I was having dinner with some friends downtown at the Golden Gate, and after dinner we decided to take a walk around Fremont Street and the vicinity checking out the sights. While we were standing at a corner waiting for the light to change, I glanced down and something on the sidewalk caught my eye.

"Hey," I said to my friends, "there's something funny-looking on the sidewalk here."

I bent down to pick it up.

"Holy crap," I told them, "it's a $100 chip from the Palms."

"Are you kidding?" they asked me, or words to that effect. "Is that thing real?"

"As far as I can tell," I said.

Next day, on my way out of town, I stopped at the Palms to see if I could cash it in, and, yeah, it was a $100 chip from the Palms.

So, I found $100 just lying on the street. Now, nothing about this story makes any sense. The Palms is a good distance from downtown; how did someone manage to make it all the way to downtown with a $100 chip and then drop it on the sidewalk and leave it? More to the point, how did none of the street people and homeless straying occasionally onto Fremont, not even mentioning the hundreds or thousands of passing tourists,  happen to notice it and snatch it up before I did?

Which speaks to our moral for the day: Keep your eyes peeled. Once the sightseeing wonders surrounding you have begun to lose their charm, keep one eye on the ground. An old flame of mine moved to Las Vegas and said walking around town she would find all kinds of things: Coins. Bills. Chips. Watches. Jewelry. You name it.

My poker buddy took a break from gambling to have a smoke next to a slot machine, happened to glance down, and saw a $10 bill lying on the ground behind the machine. I myself found $20 lying on the floor of a casino bar in Colorado once. Finders keepers. On the other hand, I once noticed a $20 bill protruding from the slot of a machine, and I immediately alerted security. Taking someone else's money from a gambling machine in any fashion is against the state laws in that jurisdiction, and you don't want to be on camera breaking the law in a casino.

I used to have a little black plastic business card holder that I kept in my shirt pocket. While I was gathering my bags at the ticket counter at McCarran Airport, I saw my little black plastic card holder lying on the ground, picked it up, dropped it in my shirt pocket and forgot about it. Until later when I got home and realized I had two little black plastic business card holders in my pocket: Mine, and one in which someone had tucked away $300 in cash.

Ah, well. If you go to Vegas you should expect to drop a few hundred bucks.

Just the other day I found someone's business card lying in the driveway of the Strat. They're the special events manager at the Hard Rock, so I imagine I can impress some of the club chicks with it.

Now, at some point you may have found someone's discarded slot ticket for $.02, or $.03, or $.05, or even some munificent some between $.10 and a quarter. You may, like the original bettor, decide to toss it away. Good Lord, why? That's real money. I can imagine someone disgustedly tossing away the few cents which is all that's left of the $20 or $100 they stuck in a machine, but gambling is a very low-profit-margin activity, and every penny you can hold onto is contributing towards your bottom line. (You know those pros that count cards and use every other dirty trick they can think of at blackjack? You know what their edge against the casino is? About 2%. That's why they have to form teams that can make huge-volume bets, like in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.) Donald Trump says he bends down to pick up a penny if he sees one on the street, and I'm no different. You may not think it matters much to the casinos if people throw those 5-cent tickets in the trash? Multiply that by millions of casino visitors every year who are probably doing the same. It's making a huge impact on their bottom line; it's the same as if they left those coins in the machine along with the rest of their losses. Let it make an impact on your bottom line instead.

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