A Couple Tales of Gambling Times

Updated on December 14, 2017

We were in line for the buffet at the Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, MI. Along with us were my brother and sister-in-law and two of my sons. We were there on a Tuesday which was 2 for 1 days and I had enough comp dollars to pay for all of us to have the soup and salad and dessert bar.

Lots of people were taking advantage of the 2 for 1 pricing and the line was long.

Immediately in front of us was a wizened little old lady. I told my brother "It's soup, salad, and dessert ..... and their desserts are really good. Hand dipped ice cream is really good."

The little lady spoke up. "And, it's Tuesday," she said.

I looked at her. "Yeah," I said, "It's 2 for 1."

"You want a pardner?" she asked.

Startled a little, I responded "Well, today my wife is with me. But if she weren't, I might just take you up on that."

About this time a sprightly older gentleman walked up and she started paying attention to him. Sort of ignored me. That worked for about 30 seconds when I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and looked at me.

I smiled. "I think she tried to pick me up a minute ago. Asked me if I needed a partner for the buffet?"

"She does that all the time," he said. "I always wind up paying our way though."

"You look like you been doing it for a while," I said.

She spoke up. "We been married a long time." She stared at me for a minute. "How long do you think we've been married?"

I pointed to my brother and his wife. "Well, this couple has been married for 49 years. That's a little longer than I have. The two of you look like you've probably been married longer than them." I didn't know what else to say.

She took pity on me. "73 years," she said. "And, we've got 10 kids." She cackled out a happy sort of laugh.

She kept going. "I'm 93, he's 94. We get down here 3 times a week. We drive halfway and meet one of the kids and they come on down with us and then drive us back to our car."


Most of the video poker machines are located on the lower level of the Rising Star Casino riverboat. On the land side of the deck is an alcove that houses about 20 machines. Some 15 or 16 are arranged around the outside wall of the alcove and there is a cluster of 4 in the center. The machines are multi type of game - Keno, Poker, Blackjack, etc - and then within each type are the kinds game and denominations. Poker for instance has deuces wild, jacks or better, Bonus, double bonus, and so on. It also has denomination level - .05, .10. and .25.

When I got there there was an empty machine in the center cluster so I went to it. Next to me was a fellow older than I am. He must have been in his late 80's. Don't know and didn't learn his name, but it was probably Elmer.

I put a $20 bill in the machine and selected Poker and deuces wild at the nickel level. Then I put my players' club card in. When I looked up to make sure it had registered, I discovered the display window was cracked and didn't display any info. I decided to no play and cashed out my $20 and pulled my card.

Elmer, by now, had run out of credits and reached around to the side of his machine and got a walker. He, rather roughly, pulled it around, got up and made his way off. With that machine vacant, I moved over there. He'd left his card in the machine but quickly he came back and got it. His movements were pretty aggressive and I attributed it to a losing session.

I began playing. Player card worked. It accepted my $20. I was off to the race.

Within a couple minutes, Elmer came stomping back and glared at me. He sat down at the machine I'd vacated and put his card in. Either it now worked or he didn't care. He jammed a $5 bill into the receptor and began really pounding the machine, trying to force it to give him cards. He not only glared at me, he glared at the machine, trying to intimidate it, I suppose.

I kept half an eye on him as my game continued. Mine was up and down as usual. It looked as though Elmer's was all down. Very quickly he exhausted the $5, grabbed his card out of the machine, found his walker, and stomped off looking for greener pastures or some companion to get more money.

Within just 3 or 4 minutes he game stomping back and banged his walker up against the base that held the machine. He twisted the seat around and plopped back down. He jammed his card into the proper slot and fed it another $5 bill. He'd hit the deal button and smack his selected cards. Then he'd pound on the draw button.

I'm really surprised that he didn't break the machine.

Quickly he exhausted that money and got up again and made his way onto the main floor. An older lady came over and sat down at the machine and played in a calmer fashion.

I looked up and into the alcove when I heard a minor commotion further into the alcove. Looking up I saw Elmer trying to get situated in a row of machines rather than one on the end. Finally he left his walker several feet away and gimped to the machine and sat down. I didn't pay strict attention to his actions but figured he was being as rough on that machine as he'd been on the one next to me.

Soon, he was up again and back out onto the casino floor. This time he kept going because I didn't see Elmer again.

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