There was some news from the Mescalero Nation last week: Gambling revenues are up a bit at their casino near Ruidoso.
Yes, even though some believe we are in a nationwide economic rough spot, folks are still plunking their bucks down on poker tables and sitting in front of slot machines.
Maybe they’re hoping to win hundreds, even thousands to pay off their mortgage, put their kid through college or to get hair implants.
I never have been much of a gambler. I like my hard-earned cash.
There was that time I picked up a wad of bills gambling in Iowa. It was a few years ago during my year of truck driving.
I was team driving coast-to-coast with this guy who loved bars and casinos.
We had dropped a load off in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and my partner made a beeline to a nearby casino for some beverages and slot machines.
“I’d rather read my book and hit the hay,” I told him.
He reached for his wallet. “Here’s 10 bucks. Sit and gamble and shoot the breeze with me,” he said.
So while my compadre had cerveza after cerveza I shot the breeze with him and played a video gambling game.
After I’d won about $100 I decided I’d had enough.
I gave him his $10 back and headed for the truck.
Every time our 18-wheeler passed by the Sky City Casino west of Albuquerque we pulled in. They have this deal — show them your commercial driver’s license and they give you a $5 roll of quarters.
For my co-driver that meant jump-starting a gambling spree that usually cost him $50 to $100. For me, that meant $5 off a huge green chile cheeseburger platter in the restaurant.
One time passing through Las Vegas, I had this feeling like I could win big coin if I played blackjack that night. I knew I was in luck when I stopped to refuel at a truck stop with a casino.
I bellied up to the blackjack table with visions of dollars piling up in front of me.
“I don’t know much about this game,” I said to the dealer.
“You’re kidding me,” she said.
The dealer outlined the blackjack rules, including the tapping of the table when I wanted another card.
I was ready to play. I put $2 on the table.
She looked at me over the top of her glasses. “Two dollars?” she said. “I think you should give me that just for making me get up from my chair.”
I just smiled.
I lost my $2 bet.
“You wanna keep it rolling, big spender?” she said.
“Yeah.” I put another $2 on the table.
I won $4.
“That’s it for me,” I said. I decided I was cutting my losses then and there.
If I couldn’t win $100 in two tries this wasn’t the game for me. I tucked my big winnings back in my wallet and went back to the truck.
I’ve pondered the leisure life of a gambler. Once while channel surfing on a Sunday afternoon I came across one of those televised poker tournaments.
“Maybe I could learn poker and make tons of money,” I said to The Lady of the House. She looked at me and started laughing. Soon she was laughing so hard she had to get out of her chair and walked down the hall.
I could still hear her laughter from the back of the house.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: