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Reno. The Biggest Little City in the World. It is actually pretty small. I was surprised that the population is only a quarter million, so maybe the slogan fits. I had thought Reno was a lot bigger.

Anyway, work sent me there for a conference last week. The venue was the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino. This happened to be my first time in a real Nevada casino hotel. My guess is that compared to Vegas hotels, the Peppermill probably isn’t all that spectacular. But I was impressed. The faux decadence was alive and well.

The place has nine restaurants. That was enough to make my head spin. I didn’t even manage to try all of them, even over the four days I was there.

The start of my gambling career

On the final evening, after the conference was over, I decided to try Romanza, the Italian restaurant. I arrived fairly soon after the closing conference session since most of the other attendees didn’t seem interested in lingering. Alas, the restaurant was not yet open.

With 20 minutes to wait, I wandered the casino, something I hadn’t really done. I’d walked through a couple times on my way to other restaurants, but I’d never really looked around.

Then I saw it: a penny slot machine. I remembered I had a lone dollar in my wallet (one that mysteriously didn’t end up as a part of my tip to the hotel shuttle driver). As someone who has never, ever had the slightest interest in gambling, I actually thought it might make for an amusing 15 minutes. At a penny per play, that means I’d get 100 spins?

So I pulled out my phone, opened the Chrome app, and literally typed in “how to play a slot machine”. While I skimmed the WikiHow article, I tried not to be distracted by the person across from me feeding $20s into their machine.

After a 3 minute intro on what I was up against, I sat down at the penny slot machine. I saw the play lines, the bonus buttons, and the the screen showing how many credits are being bet.

Isn’t this a penny slot machine?

Wait…why is it showing “180 credits”? The machine is clearly marked “1¢”. Can you not just bet a penny?

There I was, sitting at the penny slot machine, dollar in hand, unable to figure it out. The machine (and every one next to it) read “180 credits” as the current bet. I tried hitting some buttons, but nothing changed the bet.

So as quickly as my gambling career had started, it was over. There was no way I was putting my money in slot machine’s gaping maw if I couldn’t even get one spin, not to mention 100 spins I thought I could! I had a pretty good hunch the machine would activate once I put money in so I could change the bet, but I wasn’t risking my precious dollar over it.

So I settled back in my previous chair to watch in fascination as the same guy mentioned previously continued to feed $20s into his machine. Another 10 minutes passed, and I sat down and had a lovely dinner at Romanza. And I stayed a $1 richer.

Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia under CC 3.0 license

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