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A lucky spin

I wouldn’t say I walk around with a black cloud hanging over my head, but nor would I say I’m one of those people with luck always on their side.

That is until this past Saturday.

Each year I spend a weekend in the early spring with a group of friends and we have always ventured over to Meskwaki for some fun, and usually in my case, to basically hand the slot machines my money on a silver platter.

We decided to make our weekend trip a bi-annual event. So those of us who could, met up and carpooled to Tama. (Nothing brings me more happiness than saying goodbye to my money ... am I right?)

So off we went with our suitcases and money in tow.

When we arrived, we piled all of our belongings into one of our two rooms and headed down to see what kind of damage we could do to our coin purses.

Once we hit the casino floor, we scattered. The girls all seem to have their favorite machine and everyone makes a bee-line for it. Except for me.

Frankly, it doesn’t really matter which machine I sit at, they’re all the same when it comes to keeping me entertained for a while on my $20. I figure I’d spend about that much on a 2-hour movie, a drink and snacks, so I’m content inserting my money into those penny and nickel machines as long as they reward me with an occasional free game and a few noisy bells and whistles and dazzling lights.

I started out on one slot machine, and after quickly going down a few dollars, it was time to move on to another machine.

So I examined several others, looking for the bright colors and pretty graphics — I really am that simple when it comes to my gambling strategy.

My only requirement is I don’t want to sit too closely to anyone else — stranger danger and all. Plus, it never fails, I always end up near someone whose machine seems to make a lot more of those winning sounds than the one I’m sitting at and somehow that gets in my head.

I took a seat at a machine that met my strict criteria, and I slid my voucher in the slot. Then I noticed I’d just shaken things up a bit by sitting at a 50 cent machine, but I didn’t want to look cheap, so I decided to enjoy a few spins.

It only took a couple of bets before I was reveling in the fancy lights and free games, leaving me with a little more money than I started with.

OK, I decided I’d just play a little longer and make sure I cashed out before I was below my original $20 investment. After all, at this point I was playing on the casino’s money.

My winnings went up ... my losses brought it back down. But somehow I never went below the original $20 I’d agreed I would be willing to lose.

And then it happened ...

Suddenly, I’m the person whose slot machine is making obnoxious noises, lights are flashing and people start staring. I had no idea what to do. I’ve never won anything to garner attention of any sort. So I just sat there, panicking on the inside but playing it cool on the outside.

An attendant came to my side and congratulated me, took my social security number and I.D. and scurried off to get my winnings. When she returned she gave me a W-2G tax form and started counting out my money. I’m gonna admit, watching her place all those $100 bills in my hand was awesome.

I didn’t spend another penny the whole weekend but did spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder for anyone following me. Yeah, I’ve read too many crime stories and watched too many movies.

I won’t be quitting my job, buying a new house or paying off any of the kids’ student loans — I didn’t win THAT kind of money — but I did win enough to put a smile on my face and a little money in the bank ... for a few weeks anyway.

Contact Dana King at

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