Monday, May 13, 2013

MACAU: The Slot Machine Victory


The original plan was to pick up some Portuguese review books at the Livraria Portuguesa, register for the DAPLE, and release a sequel to my 2011 Macau Tower Bungy Jump. Instead, I ended up at the Grand Lisboa and getting out of there with a 200% return for my HKD620 investment. Not bad for my first time at the slot machines, eh? Beginner's luck, maybe. Why should I even care. All I know is that I am all smiles right now as I try hard to avoid hurling projectile vomit at everyone here on board a Turbojet ferry to Shenzen. Perhaps, taking the chopper was a better option? Hey, that was just HKD1,900+ that I won. It is not as if I won the jackpot.


When I was in Macau two years ago, I tried my luck at the Venetian in understanding how this whole gambling thing works, or maybe I was more interested in the game mechanics, specifically for the slot machines because they seemed so fun. As you would know, this attempt was an epic fail and resulted in that blog entry called Too Dumb to Fathom Gambling and Lose Money from It. Well, well, well, look who is laughing now!



Now I know that feeling which fuels the passion and obsession of one too many gamblers out there. I first sat in front of that slot machine clueless, inserting an HK20 dollar bill and hoping to get a gist of how the game works. I was pushing buttons without having any idea as to what they were supposed to do, but little by little, I learned somehow. Those slot machines only accept HKD, of which I had some surplus because I was just In Hong Kong that morning. When the HKD20 disappeared without a trace, I inserted HKD100 in an effort to up the ante.



The credits you get is ten times the face value of the HKD that you insert, with HKD20 being the required minimum. You then choose which "lines" you prefer to bet. You have different denominations starting from 1 to 30, with the latter being the maximum bet. The higher the amount of the "line" played, the higher the payout. In order to qualify for the jackpot prizes, you have to bet the maximum amount at each spin which is pegged at 300 credits, the equivalent of HKD30. That means your HKD100 is only worth three spins. Are you feeling lucky today, punk?



My payout reached HKD400 for the first HKD100 that I withdrew from my wallet. Not bad, and I wanted to cash out, but the allure of the flickering lights surrounding the HKD100,000 jackpot in front of me prevented me from doing so. What if I win that? That is the rough equivalent of half a million pesos! And so I decided to bet the HKD400. In less than ten minutes, the HKD400 went down to zero.



Fuck. What was I thinking? Why the heck did I let HKD400 go like that? On second thought, I lost only HKD120 because that was my initial cash outlay. Not bad. The Portuguese review books cost way more. No, this cannot be. I have to give it another go. Bidding the last HKD200 in my wallet goodbye, I played each bill separately. The first round was lackluster. It was the second round that gave me HKD500 worth of "potential" cash. Not bad, and I wanted to cash out, but the allure of the flickering lights surrounding the HKD100,000 jackpot in front of me prevented me from doing so. What if I win that? That is the rough equivalent of half a million pesos! And so I decided to bet the HKD500. In less than ten minutes, the HKD500 became zero. Holy shit.


I was disturbed, and the duo of regret and excitement ran around my head like two lovers frolicking in a beach. What do I do? I have lost HKD320 so far. Not bad, my Portuguese review books cost more, like, 1/3 more. But my wallet is empty. No it is not. There are debit cards and credit cards in there, and ATM machines in casinos are there for a reason. Fine. I will withdraw HKD180 just to round off the total casino expenses to HKD500. That way, it almost matches the cost of the Portuguese review books. Besides, I am no longer jumping off the Macau Tower anyway. But then the ATM machine would not release any amount lower than HKD500. Fine then! This will serve as a deduction from my Shenzen/Guangzhou budget. I will insert the whole HKD500, but stop and cash out once I have spent HKD180.


I was down to my last HKD200. That was so not the plan. It is funny seeing your once liquid cash at hand dwindle so fast like how water gushing out from a damaged Orocan container would. I will just let this HKD500 go and charge it to experience. Self-discipline, did I leave you in Manila? Where the hell are you. I pushed the Maximum Bet button once more. Five identical icons appeared. The slot machine was saying that I just won HKD1,972.80. Wait, I won? Hobbit in heels! I won! I won!


Instead of betting the whole amount again, my instincts were telling me to do otherwise. I turned to the lady gambling next to me and asked how I could cash out. She reminded me that I won HKD1,900+ and NOT 1,900 worth of credits. Hey lady, I know. Anyway, she was happy for me. Once the machine churned out the ticket, I immediately went to the bathroom and took a photo of it, as it is technically prohibited to do so inside the casino. Luckily, they do not follow you all the way to the bathroom just to enforce that rule. Claiming your winnings is pretty straightforward. Just head to the cashier and cash out. No identification required if you win less than HKD200,000.


All in all, it has been a cool experience. Now I have an idea why gamblers get addicted to this the way they do. There is this illusion of a winning streak that you have to maintain while you are playing, and human nature will dictate that you do not settle and ask for more. It is that addicting, and I am glad that I have experienced it in this life time. That way, I would be prepared in the future to avoid it.


As for my other motives in Macau, I was not able to register for the DAPLE because the woman at IPOR said they were not yet allowed to accept registrations, despite their very own website stating the contrary. I wanted to check out if it would be possible at the Universidade de Macau, but backed out due to exhaustion. This is just a stopover and I had my big backpack with me. So not comfy for walking around! I got the Portuguese review books anyway, so I will just call them again in June to ask for instructions. The experience is not at all bad, spending just six hours in this former Portuguese colony!

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