Tag Archives: Casinos

Things on the Dresser

13 Mar

I have this weird notion that we can tell a lot about a person by the things they have lying around. That’s the reason I created a post about the things in my office. Well, that’s not the only reason. I was sitting in my office trying to come up with a mind-blowing topic to write about. At a loss, I just went ahead wrote about what I was looking at. It was also a good way to work on my description skills. Maybe I could create a mental picture with my words like most professional writers do. I am not sure if it work, but I am going to try it again.

I have meant to clean the clutter off of my dresser, and, before I do, I feel the need to record what is there.

Category 1 – Illumination

Like a lot of dressers, mine has two lamps sitting on it. You know the kind. They are skinny and have a small shade on top. They don’t put out much light, and the bulbs tend to blow out a different times. Usually, one works when the other one doesn’t.

I also have a couple of small candles. I am not a big candle fan, but they come in handy if I want to create a romantic mood – like when I am watching Cinemax After Dark.

Category 2 – Pictures

Most people would say this, but these are the most important items on the dresser. One is of me and my nephews piled up on a couch. It was made a few years ago when we took a luxury bus to the NASCAR race at Talladega. I’m not a huge racing fan, but I went because of them. It’s one of my favorite pictures.

Another picture was made when my dad was inducted into the Tennessee Softball Hall of Fame. We are standing there with some of his old players and friends. Everyone is laughing, and I know that he was very happy and proud that night.

The third picture was taken many years ago and included most of my extended family. We were on the deck of my grandparent’s lake house. We had one of those timer cameras, and people are kind of looking different directions. Three people in the picture have passed away – my grandfather, my grandmother and my uncle. One of my nephews is cradled in my dad’s arms. The other one wasn’t even born yet.

Category 3 – Art

That is a term that I use loosely because one was created by yours truly. I had a girlfriend that liked to go to one of those ceramic places where you can drink and paint. This is a two-sided thing with a green, black and blue sun on one side. The other side has an orange moon with red stars. Apparently, I was going through my color experimentation stage.

The other is a piece of pottery I bought in New Mexico. An old Indian woman claimed to make it, but I think some old Chinese woman actually did. It is a cattle skull with cool designs painted on it.

Category 4 – Cards

These are not Hallmark cards. No, these are truly close to my heart. A blackjack strategy card; 3 MGM Players Club cards; a Resorts Casino card; a Hollywood Casino card; a Harrah’s Casino card; and a deck of playing cards with the theme, “Hooker’s Live Bait – There’s Something Fishy Going On Around Here”.

Before you start thinking that I am a total gambling addict, I also have an Elvis Membership card to get discounts at Graceland. Oh, there is also a business card from the men’s shoe department at Nordstrom’s. I would say that I don’t shop there much, but there is a stack of receipts under all of the gambling cards.

Category 5 – Notes

Before I get to the clutter (you thought the other stuff was clutter?), I was surprised to find a couple of notes during the examination. One was written by an ex-girlfriend (not the one who liked to paint) as a thank you note for taking her on a trip.

The other came from my therapist with the instructions that I tape it to the mirror and recite it every morning. It reads, “Stand in your own space and know you are there.” I’m going to tape it up right now.

Ok, I’m back

Category 6 – Other Crap on My Dresser

There is a small stone club with a clip sticking out of it. I think it is to hold letters, but I have a devious mind with it comes to the use of clips. Maybe I can put the therapy note in there.

It sits on top of a flat piece of quartz, or something that looks like that.

I also have an unused Fossil wallet that was once a Christmas gift. I have gotten two other wallets since then.

There is a pair of black running shorts. Obviously, I meant to run. All kinds of people run around here, but I can never figure out what they are running from.

Two pairs of glasses, one sun and one regular, sit in front of their cases.

Oh, there are also three watches. One is broken. Another is a sample that my watch salesman friend had in his truck. The other one is a Rolex that my parents presented to me when I got a Masters. It’s pretty, expensive and pretty expensive, but it doesn’t keep good time.

Somewhere on there is a small remote that operates my iPod when it is hooked into the speakers and some buttons piled on top of it.

I collect pins, so there is one from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. For someone who isn’t a big race fan, I just mentioned it twice in this post. I can feel my neck turning red.

There are some scissors and a jar filled with coins.

Next to those is a ticket to see Footloose. I never saw the first one and didn’t want to see this one, but my girlfriend wanted to take her daughter. It wasn’t all that bad, and I got to look at Julianne Hough. Yowser!

However, the prize of this category is my stuffed Jackalope. What? You don’t know what a Jackalope is? Well, it is a rabbit with antlers, and they are all over New Mexico. Google it and see what you come up with.

Category 7 – Coin Dish

Last category, I promise. My coin dish contains everything but coins. Actually, there are a couple of Kennedy Half Dollars. I got them at a casino.

Other than that, there is a souvenir golf ball from The Masters. It’s the only sporting event that remains on my “wish to go” list.

There is also a chess piece that was supposed to be a therapy reminder device and a blue rock with “courage” printed on it.

There are ear plugs and a couple of guitar pics that I picked up at a Metallica concert. Those and the plugs seem to go together.

I also have a Godiva Chocolate card and a gold chain from the glory days of the 1980s.

Oh, there is also the Brothel Inspector badge that some students bought for me in Madrid, New Mexico.

However, there are four items that are very special. Two belonged to my grandfather – his pocket knife and a University of Tennessee tie pin.

The other two are championship rings. In 2010, my university won the baseball national championship, and I got a ring for serving as Faculty Athletic Representative. The second ring represents the ten state championships that my dad’s softball teams won over the years. That’s why he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

And that, as they say, is that. Can you tell anything about me from the items gathered on my dresser? Or, did you make it this far?

I Left (Some of) My Money in Tunica, Mississippi

29 Dec

For the past few days, I have been immersed in the entertainment possibilities of Tunica, Mississippi, a place to which I have been traveling with my family and friends for many years. Quite a few people in these parts go to Tunica, but you may not know that it is the gambling capital of the South. It doesn’t have the glamor of Las Vegas or the boardwalk of Atlantic City, but it has all I need to escape from the stress and worries of life – Blackjack tables.

Dominated by cotton and other crops, Tunica County was the poorest area in the state. Then, the Mississippi legislature, ahead of other states, legalized riverboat gambling. Casino owners, wanting access to the growing population of the South, quickly searched for a willing municipal partner, and the leaders of Tunica were eager to take advantage of their vicinity to the Mississippi River. It wasn’t long before casinos and grand hotels were springing from the flat bottom lands. Imagine looking out of your hotel room and seeing cotton fields all around. That is Tunica.

Gambling hit northern Mississippi a few decades ago, and I have visited the area countless times since. Many of the trips have been lost from memory or have blurred together, but the first time always stands out. I went with a bunch of friends, and we spent the first night in Memphis. A member of our group had a friend that we were going to meet up with, and when we met I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was beautiful with jet black hair and dark eyes. Coincidentally, we had the same last name, and I started to think that will make things simple. We hit the town hard that night and headed the 30 miles south to the casinos the next day. I had just lost quite a bit of money in Las Vegas and began to brag that I was going to win all that back and more. Everybody was telling me that it was impossible and that I needed to shut up. However, she took it further. If I won more than I had lost, then she would take off all of her clothes and let me do a body shot off of her body – on any area I wanted. Game on.

When we walked into the casino, I picked out a Blackjack table and told them to get me there when they were ready to go. The table was packed with fun-loving people. We drank, laughed and gambled. I drank so much that I lost track of what I was betting (not a good idea generally). I was also distracted by the girl sitting next to me – Holly from Hope, Arkansas. We talked and flirted and bumped up against each other all night. She wanted my undivided attention, and I probably should have given it to her. But, I was on a mission. I don’t know how much time passed, but my good friend walked up and said everyone was ready. I said goodbye to Holly and went to the bank to cash in my chips without knowing exactly how much there was. With money in hand, I walked to where the group was sitting and pulled the cash out of my pocket. “Shot Girl” couldn’t believe that I had won double what I lost in Las Vegas. To her credit, she went through with our agreement, and a good time was had by all. Well, maybe not all, but I had a blast.

Through the years, my trips have calmed considerably. I have taken several girlfriends, but they didn’t grasp the enjoyment of gambling. My parents like to go, and I have taken them several times. The most fun was with my uncle. He loved Blackjack as much as me, and we spent many hours sitting at opposite ends of a table trying to break the bank. He passed away last year after a decade-long battle with cancer. Whenever we walked into a casino, he would say, “I’m getting well.”

This trip was just me and my parents. We stayed at Harrah’s and did most of our gambling there. I always start slowly and build up my pace. I played some video poker with my dad while my mom worked the penny slots. Then, I found my own penny machine based on “The Hangover” and won some money. By this time, we were getting hungry and hit Paula Deen’s Buffet. I am sure Paula’s real restaurant is a lot better, but this one is a great place to eat. Plus, gamblers get to eat for free, and it is easy to get into than her original locale – or so I hear. After dinner, I tried my first foray into Blackjack on a $5 table where the players were not too bad (more on that later). The conversation was fine, but I would rather not talk to anyone. The dealer should be a robot and the other players should just play. But, this was a chatty bunch.

I was at my usual 3rd base position (the last player before the dealer), and the guy at 1st base (the first player) was having a difficult time making decisions. On one hand, the guy asked for advice, and another player told him what “The Book” says. For serious Blackjack players, “The Book” is like the Holy Grail, as it charts every situation that you’ll face and tells you the play to make. Before sitting down at a table, I highly encourage you to memorize it. However, players have a love/hate relationship with it. They follow it but complain about it when they lose. The key is to play the percentages and get the best odds on your money while understanding that the house is still the favorite. That’s why they can build big buildings and provide free rooms, food and drinks.

Anyway, the player giving advice said that the only person to make money from the book was the guy who wrote it. It’s a common line with people who lose after making the right play. I hate it.

So, I interjected that I watched a documentary about him man who developed the Blackjack chart. He was a mathematician who was approached by a gambler about helping him win. After a weekend proving his theory worked, the math whiz quit Blackjack and used his formula to gain wealth in the stock market. In return, I received a smart remark about how it must have been a long time ago because nobody makes money in the stock market now. No shit, Sherlock. How long do you think “The Book” has been out? Another thing to remember, don’t try to bring an intelligent conversation to the table.

The next day we decided to get out of the casino for a while and check out the countryside. Most people who go to Tunica think they have actually gone to the city of Tunica, but they haven’t. The casinos sit in the Robinsonville community, and Tunica is several miles down the road. Riding through the city provides clues that the city fathers did not anticipate this. There is a History of Tunica Museum, and the town center has been turned into a park-like area surrounded by shops and small restaurants. Obviously, they expected an influx of tourists that did not show up in the expected numbers. And, the people who do not venture out are missing a lot. Tunica is a nice little town with a beautiful courthouse and interesting things to look at. Also, the Hollywood Cafe is closer to the casinos than Tunica. It was one of the great music clubs where many of the great Blues artists got their start. When Marc Cohn sings “Walking in Memphis”, he includes this line:

Now Murial plays piano

Every Friday at the Hollywood

He is referencing this place. I wonder how many gamblers even know it’s there.

However, a more famous blues place is just south of Tunica on Highway 61. Clarksdale, Mississippi was also one of the great Blues locales, but one with more mysticism. According to legend, it is where Robert Johnson went to the crossroads and sold his soul to the Devil in return for being a great Bluesman. Again, I wonder how many gamblers have ventured that far away from the slot machines.

When I returned to the tables, I realized how bad it can get. I sat at another $5 table and immediately knew that I had made a mistake. No one was playing by “The Book” except me. The man next to me even asked why I was making bad decisions. The guy at 1st base agonized over every decision. This is a bad sign because if someone knows “The Book”, then there is really no tough decision. You just do what you have trained yourself to do. Play the odds instead of hunches. In short, it was terrible, so I got up and went to a $25 table. Most people who are willing to bet a minimum of $25 and probably more know how to play the game. It was wonderful. No delayed decisions. Everything by “The Book”. Splits. Double downs. Fast-paced. I lost $600.

The only person to make money from “The Book” was the guy who wrote it.