My Hollywood Seminole Casino Win
(A complete change of format with this DUFU edition. Instead of the usual DUFU edition, this is a short story about my recent experiences at the Hollywood Seminole Casino. The next DUFU edition will return with the regular format but right now you can get a taste of what life is like in South Florida...)
Sometimes luck comes your way without warning. In fact, you might not even recognize it as luck except in hindsight. In this case, my luck came to me in the form of a phone call from Eric the Head one recent Thursday morning...
I was in the middle of doing my DUmmie FUnnies blog when my phone rang. It was Eric the Head. He was in the midst of one of his many neurotic psychodramas. In this case it involved something to do with a collapsed warehouse roof, fraudulent insurance, an argument with his landlord, and something to do with international business. I apologize for not being more specific but Eric the Head simultaneously comes at you from a multitude of directions with a complex interweaving of stories that make absolutely no sense so the best policy is to pay no attention to whatever he is saying. And that is just what I did. While Eric the Head was in the midst of jabbering about the many tragedies plaguing him, I simply put my cell phone down next to the monitor and kept right on blogging.
About 40 minutes later I was finished with my blog edition when I became dimly aware that there was some noise coming out of my cell phone. I picked it up and was amazed that Eric the Head took no notice that I hadn't said a word to him all that time. And yet he still wasn't done rattling off in detail the many problems that were besieging him. I figured there might actually be a point to this phone call so I interjected, "Eric, so what is the point of this call?"
Without missing a beat, Eric the Head began detailing his woes again.
"Eric. Eric! I know all about that," I lied since it is impossible to keep his stories straight. "Is there some reason you called me?"
It was then that Eric the Head told me he had the ten bucks he owed me and I could pick it up that same afternoon if I liked. This surprised me since I had completely forgotten about the money. Even more surprising is that Eric the Head would remind me about that.
Later that day I was on South Dixie Highway in Pompano Beach, not too far from the warehouse that Eric the Head also calls home. Finding Eric the Head isn't too difficult. Just look for a tall guy wearing a bright tye-die shirt strutting awkwardly like a nervous chicken. In this case, Eric the Head also was easy to spot because of the enormous pink fluffy slippers he was wearing and the fact that his arms were flailing in all directions.
"BITCH!" he screamed.
"What?" I replied.
'BITCH!!! That bitch Amy took off with my stuff, even my shoes!"
Amy was Eric the Head's girlfriend. I never met her but I already knew the story in advance. Needing a drink, Amy took off with as much of Eric the Head's wardrobe she could carry in order to quickly convert it into cash for cheap beer or anti-freeze bouquet wine.
We entered Eric the Head's warehouse abode and he angrily pointed at a pile of rags in the corner that were also his wardrobe.
"And she also made a mess of my bed!" he complained.
I forgot to mention that the rags that are Eric the Head's wardrobe also serve as his bed.
"She took my stuff!" he wailed!
"Look, Eric, maybe it would be better if I come back when you get your life straightened out," I said, wanting to extricate myself from yet another Eric the Head tragedy.
"I need to find her! Maybe she is in trouble," Eric said with strange concern for the woman who stole his stuff. "Just drive me to a few places and I bet I can find her."
The few places I drove Eric to were cheap liquor stores where Colt 45 would be considered a premium drink. As we took off on Eric's mission to find Amy, he explained about the oversized pink fluffy slippers.
"Since she took my shoes, I had to use her slippers that she left behind. And you know something, now I see why chicks dig this type of footware. They are soooo comfy."
I wasn't too comfy hearing this remark.
Our search of the South Dixie Highway liquor stores yielded no results except for the fact that Eric the Head embarrassed the hell out of me by screaming her name whenever he jumped out of the car and drew attention to us with his oversized fluffy pink slippers and his loud antics. All I could do was shrivel down in my car seat and send out mental signals to the onlookers that I wasn't really with Eric the Head even though I was.
I returned Eric the Head back to his warehouse home and he began his patented Chicken Strut as soon as he exited the car. The Eric the Head Chicken Strut consisted of jerking one foot in front of the other and meandering around in circles while jabbering almost incoherently. Mixed in with this were numerous nervous tics on his face that radiated both anger and joy and they moved across his skin. It was hard to make sense of what he said since he was alternately cursing out both Amy and the fraudulent insurance company that wouldn't cover his collapsed roof. One moment lamenting his sad fate and the next instant exultant that he was finally rid of the hated Amy as well as lined up to collect at least a $5 million dollar settlement from the fraudulent insurance company which would enable him to settle down in Maui.
In the midst of all these contradictory emotions on the part of Eric the Head, I quietly exited the scene and headed over to a nearby sandwich shop. The moment I walked in, I was taunted by a group of rednecks staring at my ever present waist pack which caused them to cast aspersions upon my manhood.
I was tempted to tell the rednecks that if they thought the "purse around my waist" was unmanly, they should have seen a friend of mine a short while ago hopping up and down Dixie Highway like a nervous chicken wearing large fluffy pink slippers. However, I decided to bite my tongue as the rednecks continued their taunts:
Y'all must have trouble picking up chicks wearing that purse on your waist," chuckled one of them.
"Actually I wear this waist pack just to make it fair. Since my natural charm attracts lots of women with ease, I wear this to sort of handicap myself in that department."
The rednecks laughed uproariously at this and I was able to extricate myself from a potentially confrontational situation.
The next day I am back in the same area, driving down South Dixie Highway when I spot a cop car in front of Eric the Head's warehouse/home. By the cop car was a cop, Eric the Head, and a couple of other men. They were staring at Eric the Head as he performed, decked out in his multi-colored tye-die shirt and fluffy pink slippers, his agitated Chicken Strut with arms flailing in all directions. I could see that the cop was actually trying to make sense of whatever Eric the Head was trying to say while scribbling on his notepad. Good luck, Mr. Policeman, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to follow Eric the Head's train of thought especially since it would all be an incoherent mishmash of fraudulent insurance companies, international business deals, betrayal by the beer-loving Amy, and a whole host of other topics, both semi-real and imaginary. Rather than be sucked into the neurotic vortex that is Eric the Head's life, I kept right on driving by until I reached the shop of Jimmy the Tire Guy to shoot the breeze.
I know Jimmy the Tire Guy because for a period of exactly one year, I had to stop by his shop at least twice a month due to my ownership of a haunted Ford Aerostar van that needed either a new tire or a tire repair. I bought the haunted van in August 2006 from someone of my acquaintance, Alan. I didn't know much about Alan but I was told that he was a former schoolteacher who was a bit eccentric. That's being polite. Alan, although currently appearing to be normal, was at one time a flat out loon. How loony? How about so loony that he attempted to climb up the flag pole of the middle school where he was an instructor? Oh, that doesn't sound so loony to you? I guess that's because I neglected to mention that he attempted to climb up that flag pole...NAKED. After that, no more teaching for Alan. I always wondered what the reactions of those middle school students were watching a teacher climbing up a flag pole in his birthday suit. After that stunt, Alan was institutionalized for a time. How long I don't know but I suspect it was directly proportional to how high he managed to shimmy his way up the flagpole. Reach the top and they toss you in the Rubber Room for life. Halfway up earns you a couple of years in the Funny Farm. Well, at least I know that Alan didn't make it all the way to the top. Even reaching halfway would be quite a physical feat especially if you are naked.
But enough about Alan and his mental condition. What mattered here is a prophetic statement I made to Alan upon purchasing the Haunted Van for a bargain price. To the tune of the Rush Limbaugh theme coming up on the radio just after noon, I handed the money over to Alan and stated that I would be happy if the van would last me exactly one year. Perhaps my words threw a curse on the van but in short order I noticed some eerie things happening.
In addition to regularly needing either a tire repair or replacement the Haunted Van began actly eerily whenever I was driving south on I-95 between Griffin Road and Sterling. The first time I noticed it, my van began vibrating violently. I pulled off at Stirling and noticed my tire belt stripping away. The tire was replaced but the next time I was on I-95 heading South, my van again started vibrating just as I hit Griffin and a few moments later a big tire blowout. Then I noticed strange things happened to the Haunted Van whenever I was on that stretch of highway. Vibrations, tire blowouts, near collisions with other cars, and and running over road debris. All this time I came to know Jimmy the Tire Guy very well since I was a regular customer of his due to the frequent tire replacement and repair for the Haunted Van.
Late in July I ran into Alan again and laughingly told him that my one year anniversary with the van was coming up in a couple of weeks. So two weeks later on the very day of the anniversary that I bought the Haunted Van, my engine immediately stopped running while driving down South Dixie Highway. What made it especially spooky was that it was just a little after noon time and the Rush Limbaugh theme music came up on the radio just when the engine stopped due to a broken timing belt. Exactly to the minute, maybe the second, one year after I had made the prophetic hope of the van lasting exactly a year. After that incident, I decided it wasn't worth fixing the Haunted Van so I sold it for junk.
So in a very long winded way you now know how I came to be acquainted with Jimmy the Tire Guy on South Dixie Highway. After shooting the breeze with Jimmy the Tire Guy I made a pit stop at a nearby Publix supermarket. On my way in, I noticed they were giving out free samples of prime rib along with macaroni and string beans. The latter two items were of no importance to me but that small sampling of prime rib set off an extreme yearning in me. And not just for some more prime rib tidbits but for huge hunks of prime rib. Specifically Hollywood Seminole Casino prime rib.
I was first introduced to this prime rib late last September when I was driving back to Broward County from Miami on I-75 with my wife. I noticed a billboard along the highway that stated that a prime rib buffet dinner was available at the Hollywood Seminole Casino for just $5.99 so I suggested to my wife that we indulge ourselves before reaching home. I also stated that we wouldn't be going there to gamble. ONLY to eat prime rib dinners.
So we get to the Hollywood Seminole Casino and prepare to eat when the cashier informed us that we needed to get a Player's Club card to get the discount. We got our Player's Club card along with two $20 vouchers for free play that we had no intention of using. Following our meal (which was delicious) we made a beeline for the exit. Just as we stepped outside, I said to my wife:
"You know, this is ridiculous. We each have $20 of free play and it would be stupid not to use it since this costs us nothing."
We made an about face and ended up at the Seminole Pride slot machine (which is technically a bingo machine). We had no idea what we were doing but as soon as we started playing we began racking up points. From the 400 initial initial points we started with, we each quickly moved up to almost 2000 points. As we were playing the Seminole Pride machine and watching the Alligators, Chickee Huts, and Chief Osceolas spin, I noticed a look of absolute glee on my wife's face. This was her first experience on a slot (technically bingo) machine and she was ENTHRALLED. She never even gambled before except for buying lottery tickets. Anyway, my points eventually declined to zero but hers remained high so I suggested she cash out while she was still up there. Out came a ticket stating she had over $78. I told my wife that maybe this was just for more free play but when we turned the ticket in to the cashier, we got that amount back in cash. The look on my wife's face turned to absolute GLEE.
On the way home, she called friends and relatives about her win. Rarely have I seen her so happy so the next day, she was delighted when I suggested we return to the Hollywood Seminole Casino. After chowing down on our $5.99 prime rib buffet (don't forget to tip the beef slicer and the waitress) which also comes with lots of great side dishes like stuffed crab, Italian sausage, and egg rolls at various times, we made our way back to the Seminole Pride machine.
This time, I vowed to be a bit more scientific than the first time. I told my wife that when she racked up a high number to let it fall back about 20% before finally cashing out. However, when she was up at almost 2000 points she wanted to cash out and I had to physically grab her arm to prevent that. This repeated several times as she hovered at around 2000 points. Meanwhile a crowd gathered behind us and watched our antics in amusement. That amusement turned into outright laughter as I had to repeatedly struggle with my wife to keep her from hitting the cashout button. Then when she dropped to around 1500 points I told her to go ahead and cashout. Now we reversed roles. She wanted to continue playing and I had to struggle with her to keep her from hitting the Play button. Finally, to the loud laughter of the crowd behind us, I hit the Cashout button while she pulled out some more money to continue playing. The inadvertent comedy act complete with laughing audience continued as I struggled to keep her from sliding more money in. Finally, to the histerical bellylaughs from our audience, I had to LIFT my wife from her seat and away from the Seminole Pride machine.
We walked a few paces toward the cashier when my wife suddenly whirled around and ran towards the slot machine. I grabbed her from behind as the crowd shrieked with laughter and dragged her to the cashier where we got a payout of $75 with our cashout ticket making our two day total winnings about $153. Oh, and on the way out the casino, my wife made one final dash back towards the entrance in an attempt to play more but, once again, I stopped her.
A few days later I received a couple of $15 free play coupons in the mail so back we went. This time our winnings amounted to $60 so we were over $210 ahead. More than the money, I enjoyed the look of sheer pleasure my wife had when playing the slot machines. Since we each got even more free play coupons in the mail, we decided to return again about a week later. This time, my wife made a shocking discovery. You can actually lose money in a casino. For us it was a grand total of $10 of our own money. However, despite the small loss my wife was grief-stricken.
"I don't like to lose!" she wailed.
"Yeah, well when you go to a casino sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. This time we lost but we are still a couple of hundred bucks ahead so quit complaining."
Despite our "loss" we continued to return to the Hollywood Seminole Casino. It became sort of a ritual with us. First we ate the $5.99 prime rib buffet and then we played the slot (technically bingo) machine. The only deal better than a $5.99 prime rib buffet is a two for one $5.99 prime rib buffet which they had every Tuesday until November. Like I said to my wife on the night we won the $60:
"Imagine going to a restaurant and eating two prime rib dinners for just $5.99 and on the way out the door, the management hands you 60 bucks in cash. Well, that's just what happened here tonight."
One evening soon afterwards, I noticed that people were swiping their Player's Club cards through a machine. Upon inquiring, I was told that is how you enter that night's hourly sweepstakes for the $1000 free play and also to enter other contests. So I swiped my card through the machine and when my slip with my name came out I prepared to drop it in the sweepstakes basket. When my wife followed the same procedure, TWO slips popped out. One for the free play sweepstakes and the other a slip notifying her that if the home team in that night's (Monday) NFL game won, she would get $50 in free play the next day.
Later that evening, even though my wife had never before paid the slightest bit of attention to American football (she's from Venezuela), she was riveted in front of the TV set watching the game. Home team Denver was ahead of visiting team Tennessee by a score of 34 to 20 and had possession of the ball with less than two minutes remaining in the game. I told my wife to relax since it was all over. She was hearing none of it. She nervously waited until the time ticked to the end and jubilantly declared that she was looking forward to getting her 50 bucks in free play. Next night she was able to cash out at $44 using that free play voucher.
Over the next weeks, we really had something to look forward to several evenings a week. I enjoyed calling my wife on the phone and suggest that we go to the casino that evening. And we never knew if that night we could be BIG winners like Fran whose billboard on State Road 7 across the street from the casino declared her to be a winner to the tune of $517,712.
So that day when I had the free sample of prime rib at Publix, it caused my taste buds to beckon me inexorably in the direction of the Hollywood Seminole casino and the $5.99 prime rib buffet. One problem, that day was also our anniversary and my wife was preparing a special dinner for me. That meant that I had to think of an incredible excuse to go into the casino to eat the prime rib dinner and do a little gambling using a free play coupon sent to me plus a little of my own cash.
Now I didn't mean to head to the casino. Not consciously but the taste of those prime rib morsels on my tongue beckoned me in the general direction of the casino. One thing led to another. I could tell you about the several hours of traveling around involving a dead battery, a bluetooth, a school, and a Toyota salesman but in the interest of brevity, Dear Reader, let me just say that by about 6 P.M. I found myself in the Hollywood Seminole Casino desperately thinking of an excuse to get out of my anniversary dinner so I could partake of the prime rib. Nothing came to mind. To make matters worse, the line for the Seminole Player's table to redeem my free play coupon for a voucher was very long. So in a depressed mood I decided no prime rib and no playing the slot (technically bingo) machine.
On my way towards the exit, I remembered that it was Friday---free play sweepstakes night. So I turned around and went to the card swipe machine. It was almost the top of the hour and I figured that by amazing luck, I might just get my name called in a few minutes. I swiped my card and out popped my sweeptakes entry slip and also out popped a slip for $250 in free play. WOO HOO! I immediately called my wife with my perfectly reasonable excuse. I joyfully told her that I had won $250 in free play which meant that I had to eat at the casino. You see, it is our superstition that we MUST eat the prime rib dinner in order to win. Now we might not win just because we eat the prime rib dinner but we are guaranteed to lose if we don't eat that dinner.
And speaking of superstition, just a week earlier I spotted a familiar looking woman in the casino. I was tempted to address her but held off until I saw her swipe her Player's Club card in the machine. It said "Welcome Frances!" At that point, whatever inhibitions I had broke down:
"Hey, are you the same Fran as on the billboard who won all that money?"
"Shhh! Yes, but I don't like to let that get around," she replied.
"Okay, I understand. But what machine were you playing when you won big?"
So maybe Fran's luck rubbed off on me. I sure felt like it was now entirely possible to win a half million dollars. Also I felt like a million bucks. Part of the reason for this was the treatment I received from Ryan, the Seminole Player's Club rep. Ryan is the guy who often, with great flair announces the winners in the free play sweepstakes as well as other contests. With Ryan it doesn't matter if you won a million dollars or $250 in free play, you still get first class treatment. After verifying my ID, he plopped down my five $50 free play vouchers on the table in such a way that he could have been announcing that I had won $250,000 in free play.
I called my wife back and told her I would use just $50 in free play that night and we would return on Monday and each play with my card the remaining $200. The prime rib dinner finished, I made my way to the Seminole Pride machine. It was crowded that evening so all the machines except one were being used. I can't remember the details of exactly what happened except for one spin. On the top row popped a Chief Osceola, another Chief Osceola, another Chief Osceola, an alligator, and another Chief Osceola on the last line. Because there was a gap in the fourth line, I failed to win the $293 awarded for getting five Chief Osceolas in a row. Added to my regret was the loud laughter of the German tourist next to me.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!"
He pointed at the top row on his machine and in the fourth line was...Chief Osceola. As far as I was concerned that German tourist STOLE that Chief Osceola from me. However, my peeved attitude did not dampen his mirth.
"Ho! Ho! Ho!"
I was inconsolable.
"Why Chief Osceola?" I moaned. "Why did you show up in the fourth row of someone who didn't need you there in place of me who could have won almost $300. Why, Chief, WHY?"
Suddenly people were staring at me for talking to a mechanical machine. Meanwhile the German kept right on laughing to the point where I couldn't take it anymore so I cashed out. Yes, I won some money but not nearly as much if the fourth Osceola had showed up where I needed him.
We could have returned to the casino that weekend to play the rest of the free play vouchers but my wife had to prepare for her upcoming trip to Venezuela. Therefore all weekend was a time of great expectation. Would I become rich on Monday night? Who knows? However the anticipation was great. I was feeling VERY optomistic.
Comes Monday night and my wife was in a giddy mood. Never before had she played a hundred dollars worth of spins. Taking the example of Fran, we first went to the Mr. Cashman machine. My wife (upon my instructions) hit the 20 on the machine. I thought this meant a dollar of play as on the Seminole Pride machine. Two spins later and two losses later, I found out that it meant $20 of play per spin. We were down to just $10 on that $50 free play voucher. Then down to 5 bucks. However, my wife caught a lucky break and we soon got that back up to over $20. Then we switched back to the more familiar Seminole pride machine where my wife played anther $50 free play voucher and then I followed up with the remaining $100 of free play.
At this point, Dear Reader, I am sure you expect me to announce how I suddenly won HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars with my free play. That would be the obviously happy ending to this story. But that is not how this story ends although it still ends happily. If you need to know, I won a grand total of a little over $140 with my free play. So why do I tell you that my story ends happily?
It's simple. Because over the past few months we have enjoyed ourselves tremendously just by going to the casino. By playing responsibly and making good use of our free play coupons our net winnings have totaled over $400 plus we have eaten those tremendous prime rib dinners at ridiculously low prices. Just looking forward to going to the casino has given my wife and I a feeling of exhilaration. Yes, this is the REALISTIC happy ending to this story.
And you know what? Yesterday both of us received yet more free play coupons in the mail. Not a tremendous amount but it still gave my wife a thrill when I called her down in Venezuela about that. She will be back in 10 days and already she is looking forward to returning to the casino. Who knows? Perhaps the next time will be our lucky night. In any event, we've had a fantastic time just visiting the casino.
Hey Ryan! I'm still hoping to hear you call out my name as one of the contest winners! However, no matter what...I'll be BAAACK!!!