7/7/7 turned out to be a very lucky day for me.
It started out like almost any other Saturday in town. I got up early and did some chores around the house. Laundry, dishes … stuff like that. My girlfriend Kathryn came over around noon, and we ran a few errands together. I bought a pair of shorts at Target and we both picked up a few items at CVS. Nothing out of the ordinary.
After our errands, we were just lounging around my living room, doing not much of anything. At one point, Kathryn mentioned something about it being 7/7/7 and that she thought she should buy a lottery ticket before the evening’s drawing. I then recalled all the advertisements I’d seen recently for one of the nearby Indian reservation casinos, which had been planning special events for the so-called “day of luck”. I suggested we try a slot machine rather than a lottery ticket, figuring an air-conditioned casino wouldn’t be a bad place to pass a very hot summer afternoon. So we got in the car and drove to the casino, which was less than a half-hour away.
When we got to the casino, the parking lot was packed, but I saw an open spot that wasn’t too far from the door. I guess it was vacant because it was space number 13. I parked in it anyway.
We went inside to find the place was jam-packed. We went to the guest services counter to get one of those slot machine cards all the casinos have, but then we could not find a free machine anywhere. We tried waiting for machines at one point. One woman turned around and saw me waiting for her machine and put more money in it. Bitch.
After at least a half-hour of looking for a machine, we decided to try our luck at the casino bar. We managed to find a seat there with no problem. I ordered a Kiltlifter on draught. It was only $4.50, which made me feel a little lucky after all. The guy next to me ordered a Bud Light in a bottle and gave the bartender a quarter as a tip. The bartender returned with the change from my twenty: a ten, five ones, and two quarters. I gave him one of the ones. Kathryn said she wondered whether I’d give him a one or the two quarters. I told her I don’t really believe in luck, but I do somewhat believe in karma. As a result, I felt a casino was a dumb place to leave a small tip. While my beer was going down, we discussed the fact that this had to be one of our luckiest trips to a casino, since between us we lost only $5.50 and got a Kiltlifter out of the bargain.
After the beer, we circled the casino one more time. Still no machines open anywhere. We surrendered. As we were heading for the door, I noticed there was no line at all at the keno station. I’ve played at most a half-dozen keno cards my whole life, and most of them were while waiting for breakfast at the cafe in Harrah’s. It’s not my favorite game. However, we’d been in a casino all afternoon and I hadn’t wagered so much as a nickel yet, so I decided to play a five-dollar card before leaving. I’m much too lazy to pick out a bunch of numbers, so I played a left-right.
At this point I have to interrupt myself and explain what a left-right is, because no one I’ve told this story to has ever heard of it.
There are eighty numbers on a keno board, arranged in order in eight rows of ten numbers each. Twenty numbers are drawn in each game. Statistically speaking, the most likely outcome would be that ten numbers would be drawn from the left half of the board and ten from the right. Playing a left-right in keno is betting that the numbers will be unevenly distributed on the two halves of the board. The more numbers appear on one half, the more unlikely the event is, and therefore the higher the payout is.
I watched in disbelief as the numbers came up. The first two were on the left. Then one appeared on the right. Then every number that followed appeared on the left. I kept looking at the board, waiting for the rest of the numbers to come up. Kathryn said, “I think that’s it. Did you win something?”
I couldn’t even say the words, so I just pointed to the keno guide, which I happened to have in my hand. Nineteen numbers on the left. I had won $20,000.
It was the only wager I made all day.
Naturally, with a jackpot of that size, there were a lot of formalities. They had to run several independent verifications on the balls that were drawn, and of course I had to fill out paperwork for the IRS. About a half-hour later, I had a check and a couple of free drink coupons from the manager on duty. I needed the drink to calm my nerves. I was still in disbelief. After the drink, I went back to the keno station and tipped the girl who wrote me the ticket. Then Kathryn and I headed back to space number 13.
As we left the casino, we walked right past the woman who wouldn’t give up her machine. I didn’t say a word.