Thursday, June 6, 2013

To gamble or not to gamble: The Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati

It is flashy, it is glamorous, and it is Cincinnati's latest attraction: the Horseshoe Casino.
To be honest, I don't like casinos. I usually try to stay as far away from them as possible. Don't get me wrong— I am a passionate player; cards, roulette, Scrabble … you name it, I play it! As long as there is no money involved, I do great. But this changes as soon as I start to play for money; my luck packs its bags, takes a plane and flies far, far away. Therefore, when I first heard about the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati, I was determined to avoid it. However, Saturday night, my curiosity got the better of me. Virtually EVERYBODY had been to Horseshoe and was just raving about it. So, under strictly professional purposes of journalistic research I allowed myself to go. And, given my game karma, I decided to set myself a financial limit. But how much should it be? It had to be bold and daring. In the end, I decided to take only one dollar. This dollar would either make me incredibly rich, or … not. Having made this decision, I walked confidently into Horseshoe— only to find myself in awe and somehow blinded by the (roughly) 1,000 chandeliers blinking and flashing and sparkling at me. It took me a while to get used to the brightness, and when I did, I realized that people were bumping into me. Actually, I was bumping into them as I stumbled around, still trying to figure out where I had landed. There was music coming from every direction and there was so much going on around me that I didn't know where to look first: at the man at the black jack table throwing around 100 dollar bills as if they were dirty wash cloths, at the lady at the roulette game gathering heaps and heaps of chips in front of her, or at the girls from the bachelorette party with horns made out of balloons on their heads. In other words, I was in the middle of a wild party where everybody wanted to have a good time and make money. Money. Right! I almost forgot that I was here to see how far a dollar could get you in Cincinnati. So here we go! Uhm … no, I guess we don't go just yet because I don't understand how any of these games work. It is all red, yellow and blue lights, computer screens and quick-as-race-cars croupiers. Everybody but me seemed to know exactly what they were doing. So I decided to try my luck with something simpler, a slot machine called “Lago di Amore”: Lake of Love. However, this machine showed me no love at all. As a matter of fact, there were no slots and I couldn't figure out where to insert my coins. Another 20 minutes went by until I worked up the courage to ask somebody to explain the machine to me. An older gentleman showed me patiently where I could feed the machine my bills (coins were two centuries ago!) and which buttons I had to press. Now I was ready. This was my chance to make it big in Cincinnati. I put my dollar bill into the machine and pressed a button. Two seconds later my balance was 40 cents. I went to the next machine, pressed the button again. 15 cents. This was bad. If I kept loosing at this rate, I'd spend a month's salary in half an hour. Then I remembered my mission: get in, then get out as fast as I could. It was definitely time to get out!
What an experience! And what did I learn from this experience? I learned that one dollar won't get you very far, I learned that it is fashionable to wear balloons in your hair, and I learned that the Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati is not for the faint of heart.

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