Las Vegas was built on five things: 1) Optimism. 2) Short memories. 3) Tax fraud. 4) Almosts. 5) Attractive women pretending men are attractive for money.
Today, we’re going to talk about “almosts.” In fact, this is possibly the most Las Vegas almost, ever.
A Wheel of Fortune player at Circa Las Vegas made a common mistake that cost him $1.1 million. Gird your loins.
On the Wheel of Fortune machine in question, players have several bets they can make: $1, $3, $5, $7 or $10. (See photo below.)
To qualify for a spin, a player must bet at least $5. To qualify for the game’s “Gold Spin” bonus, $7 or $10 must be wagered.
Bets at $1 and $3 aren’t eligible for a spin, the Gold Spin or the progressive jackpot. At the $1 level, you’re playing just one line.
At the time of this mind-blowing episode, the progressive jackpot on the machine was $1,128,024.83.
Yes, we could just cut to the chase, but we’re trying to build some suspense. If you’ve ever played slots before, you can probably guess where this is going.
The player’s bet level was $5 for their entire session. Until their final spin. The guy had $1 left. You don’t cash out one dollar. A dollar is enough for a Hail Mary, we’ve all been there.
Miraculously and somewhat predictably, the three symbols for the $1.1 million jackpot stopped on the payline. It’s the moment gamblers pray for every time they visit a casino. It was also every gambler’s nightmare.
At the $1 level, the bet resulted in a win of $1,500.
This would’ve been an exhilarating hit in any other situation. In this instance, however, the player missed out on a million bucks, a soul-crushing scenario we’ve heard happens, but figured was mostly an urban legend. Nope, this actually happened at Circa, per witnesses.
We’re told the player took the incident in stride, choosing to focus on the positive. As a rule, gamblers try not to think about what might have been, as that can be crazy-making. Gambling is fraught with “what ifs.”
“If only I’d have been betting $50 a hand when I hit that royal rather than quarters.”
The hypotheticals and permutations are endless.
If we may offer some consolation to the player, while we are not a tax expert, we trust the tax obligation on $1,500 is substantially less than $1.1 million. So, there’s that.
To quote the famed poet The Notorious B.I.G., “Mo money, mo problems.”
The paperwork involved in getting a million-dollar payout is horrendous, often taking hours to complete. Big jackpots are paid by the slot maker, not the casino, and representatives of the manufacturer are often some distance away.
There are also lots of irksome decisions that must be made: Do you want a lump sum or installments?
So. Much. Math.
Then there’s the dilemma of how much to tip on a million-dollar win. Stressful, to say the least. (Note: Most million-dollar winners tip nothing because they’re dipshits. No million-dollar jackpot, no blog calling you a “dipshit,” big plus!)
That’s just the financial part of a big win. There’s also the sociological aspect. When you win a million dollars, people come out of the woodwork looking for handouts. Missing a big jackpot means sidestepping all that awkwardness.
Ultimately, this player’s gaff saved him untold headaches and intestinal distress.
Rolling around in piles of money naked can cause paper cuts! Nobody talks about that.
Plus, who’s to say the winning combination of symbols would’ve landed the same way if another denomination were being wagered?
We’re doing our best here, but the reality is this turn of events sucks harder than a breast pump with fresh batteries.
This harrowing scenario, guaranteed to haunt our dreams, serves as a reminder to pay close attention to what you’re betting and what’s at stake when you gamble.
A simple oversight can lead to a lifetime of face-palming. In reality, that whole “Mo money, mo problems” thing is hooey. The saying should be, “Mo money, mo money.” With enough money, you can hire people to not only take care of the problems, you can hire other people to make you more money.
Our condolences to the lucky Wheel of Fortune “winner.”
As we can’t think of an upbeat way to end this story, we’ll use some misdirection. Specifically, a reminder Las Vegas has a “Wheel of Misfortune.” Yes, it’s radioactive, but what are you, a baby?
The “Wheel of Misfortune” is maybe 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, in a pit once used in the production of manganese.
The artwork is a buzzkill, but not as big a buzzkill as missing out on million-dollar slot jackpot for the sake of saving $4.
Live and learn. Some lessons just hit harder than others. This one is like $1.1 million kicks to the aforementioned loins.