Introduction to How I Won a Car
On August 31st of 2014, at the end of an amazing 9 months in which I won 90 taxable jackpots, I won a car at a car at a casino. This is the story of how I won a car. It is based on my notes and memories, and was originally written only a few months afterwards.
This article has the following sections:
- Long Promotion Periods to Accumulate Entries;
- Ignore Car Promotions at Your Cost;
- Ask Questions Beforehand!;
- In the Players’ Lounge During Boring All-Day Events;
- Round 2 – Spinning a Big Wheel;
- Being Ready to Win;
- Remembered After Having Won;
- Paying Those Pesky Income Taxes;
- Learn to Comfortably Spin a Wheel, Just in Case; and
Long Promotion Periods to Accumulate Entries
While at a local casino during the second year of my return to gambling, I’d noticed a few posters on the big finale of a casino promotion I’d only been vaguely aware of. It was a multi-month promotion with several end-of-month giveaways such as cruises and other trips, including a car giveaway as a finale at the end of the promotion.
But, being new to promotions and the need to pursue anything and everything of interest as another way to earn income for gambling profit, I had barely noticed a mail flyer, players club emails, and other mentions of it during prior visits to the casino.
My first assessment of this three-month-long promotion was somewhat less than favorable. While cruises or trips to Las Vegas can indeed be wonderful, I’d recently returned from another casino’s complimentary gifts of a 7-day cruise to Alaska and 4-night stay in Las Vegas, as typical annual rewards to a player with top tier status. Therefore, I wasn’t very thrilled with potentially winning another such trip or cruise.
To be more precise, I wasn’t particularly interested in more trips which this promotion seemed to be offering. I did became slightly interested in this promotion when I learned the grand finale was the drawing for the luxury car I’d noticed was on display in the main entryway of the casino. Yes, I began to realize, that was very interesting indeed.
Ignore Car Promotions at Your Cost
I’d been puzzling over the Mercedes-Benz located in this casino’s entryway for some time. I remembered seeing another such car there a few months back, but it eventually went away. Then, I was still assessing that casino, and hadn’t yet played there much, so apparently hadn’t been on the mailing list for that prior car giveaway.
This second car I did see. And, I wondered what event it went along with. Over several visits to the casino for mostly other reasons, I eventually learned more about the event. It was to be the grand finale drawing for the three-month-long promotion for trips that I’d been hearing about, formerly assessed as not something I was interested in, then subsequently ignored.
The luxury car on display was certainly a very fine automobile but, as it happened, not at all the sort of vehicle I prefer. As a result, I had no idea how much it was worth. I took a photo of it one day so I could try to study its features. Perhaps online I’d find the same model car, and get an idea of the features such a car model might typically offer?.
It was a simple matter to go online to the manufacturer’s website to “build” a late model version of that brand and model car along with the vehicle features I could identify in the photo I’d taken.
Doing so provided the purchase price of such a vehicle, which I felt was a good start on what I needed to know. For, if I won such a car, hypothetically speaking, wouldn’t I want to know how much I might receive for this “used” car?
As most people already know, many new cars depreciate a tremendous amount as soon as they are driven off the dealership’s lot. This luxury car was no longer on the lot and, I had to assume, should be considered as a used car with mileage of 10 or so miles.
Therefore, I went online again to find out how much such a car would be worth “used” with only a handful on miles on it. As a result, strictly in a “just in case” scenario, I now knew the purchase price of that model vehicle as well as what I, myself, might be able to get for it.
Over time, the three-month-long promotion for trips, cruises, and finally a luxury car began to approach its end. It’s last day was August 31, the day of the big drawing for the car. I happened to be to the casino the night before, a Friday, when the casino had seemed rather lively.
There were lots of people there, including the boss of all the hosts I’d been getting to know during my visits. I shook her hand, she said she’d been hearing about me, and was happy to finally meet me. So, that was a nice little meet-and-greet.
One of the hosts that I was getting to know during my visits, Amanda, had taken that opportunity to introduce me to her boss, also asked if I’d be visiting the next day to participate in the car giveaway. With no real interest at that time, I said maybe I would stop by.
Looking back, that was when I really started thinking about changing my assessment of the promotion. Why would I? Because Amanda happened to mention that the number of entries for each player was based on their play for the last few months.
Also, there would be multiple opportunities to win, with 2 drawings each half hour over a five-hour stretch. Finally, the only players called would be those that had plugged their players club card into a slot machine within the previous half hour.
With those being the drawing rules that I knew about from Amanda, I had a few thoughts. First, I’d spent (and won, too) a lot of money at that casino in the last few months! I began to realize that I seriously needed to reevaluate my assessment of this promotion. However, I had one question and one concern.
The question was, given significant amount of high limit slots I’d been playing at that casino for the last 2 months, exactly how many entries did I actually have in the promotion for winning this car? My concern was, would it be more trouble than it was worth to own another car, especially one that didn’t particularly appeal to me?
Ask Questions Beforehand!
So, I went to the casino the next afternoon to ask my question and discuss resolving my concern with the casino hosts. All three hosts happened to be in their office, another clue it was going to be a big day!
Once I explained my question and concern, they told me that sliding my club card in the kiosk would provide the entries I’d have in the drawing. Plus, that instead of accepting the car, there was a cash option available if I chose to take that instead.
I have to admit, I admire the professionalism of casino hosts and especially of these particular casino hosts. I’ve noticed that hardly any question fazes them – they usually come right back with an answer for even the most ridiculous questions, like mine can be at times. They either know the answer outright, or know just where to quickly look it up.
Armed with my prior research on the sellable value of the car, approximately $36,000, by the way, the $40,000 amount of the cash option, and my 174 total entries, I left the casino for a while to think about the situation. It wasn’t long before I turned my $500 car around and went back to the casino well before the first drawing for the luxury vehicle.
In the Players’ Lounge During Boring All-Day Events
Since I was so early, I brought a book to the high tier player lounge to wait for the first drawing at 5:00 p.m. Around 4:35 p.m. or so, I went out and plugged my rewards card into one of the main floor slot machines as required to be able to have my name drawn.
At the 5:00 p.m. drawing, I realized that I couldn’t hear announcements in the lounge. When I went out onto the main floor, I saw the names of the two people that had already been drawn. With a bit of wandering around, I eventually found the location of the drawing itself just as they were wrapping up the paperwork for whatever those two people had won. Each had won a small non-taxable amount of cash, but not the car itself.
Apparently, unbeknownst to me despite my attempt at research, there was a secondary drawing of some sort after the initial names were announced. No one had won the car, just cash prizes between $500 and $1,500. On my way back to the lounge for more book reading, I made sure to plug my rewards card into another slot machine so that I was eligible for the next drawing at 5:30 p.m.
Thinking about the situation in the high tier lounge, while making little progress reading a book, around 5:25 p.m. or so I decided that I needed to leave the lounge and head on over to the drawing location before the actual drawing of names. What was actually happening? What might I learn by watching the actual process?
In part, I wanted to learn the whole process from start to finish. In larger part, I had had a thought that if two names are drawn than whichever of the two individuals showed up first might automatically proceed with the secondary drawing.
See, I was not at all sure if that was how it worked, but the order of who showed up first might be important. I thought I might end up terribly disappointed with myself if I ended up being called but arrived after the other person called arrived ahead of me – who might then win the car. That was not a pleasant scenario to imagine. There was only one car to win, after all. I would rather go first, despite the low odds of that being allowed if I was the second person called.
I think now is a good time to mention that advantage players have a certain perspective on winning. It is not quite that they expect to win, but rather that they carefully consider scenarios where they take the best possible actions that lead to a win. I didn’t think I was going to win a car.
If anything, I had my usual high hopes and low expectations. But I carefully look at the situation and take precautions which might reasonably improve my odds of winning. And, that is what advantage players do – they try to find the advantage.
Round 2 – Spinning a Big Wheel
So, before the 5:30 p.m. drawing I went up to the open area near, but not too near, the promotion organizers preparing for the second round on their laptop computer and getting set to draw the next two names.
I remember that they glanced up at me, with a look like they were wondering what I wanted, and my responding with body language where I was trying to be casual by turning and looking around rather than staring at them intensely … and the big spinning wheel set up near them. Was that the second round…?
A minute or so later, they called my name. So, naturally, I went ahead and walked up to them. They asked if they could help me. Despite the apparently absurdity of it all, I told them they’d just called my name.
I can’t imagine what they must have been thinking but, again, these are a highly professional group of people. They asked for my government-issued I.D., confirmed my identity, then moved me over to the secondary round. It was indeed the spinning of a big wheel.
The big wheel, perhaps 6 feet or 2 meters in diameter, had 15 locations around its outer edge separated by long, thin posts sticking out along the rim. Two openings between pins had little Mercedes-Benz stickers. The remaining 13 openings had written dollar amounts in them, ranging from $500 to $1,500.
I saw all this at a glance, just before they told me to go ahead and spin the wheel. I asked, “Which way do you want me to spin it?” They said, “Either way is fine.” So, I did.
Now, we need to discuss the wheel, because of its importance to what happened next. I know something about spinning wheels. I mean, professionally speaking. I’ve spin more than a few types and sizes of them, over the prior 9 years, during my 40+ hour per week aerospace engineering day job. Those at work were all motorized, but I’d always need to adjust the rotational velocity and acceleration values on its spin as needed for the job at hand.
As it happens, all the speeds and accelerations I use in my engineering career are within the range of what an individual can physically produce by hand. What I’m saying is, I have an excellent “feel” for spinning a wheel. The ability was about to be put to an interesting test – trying to win a car.
So, they told me to spin the wheel. And, carefully without worry and equally carefully without any thought other than to just relax, I grabbed one of the 6-inch posts sticking out of the edge of the vertical wheel and pulled it for what felt, in my professional opinion, to be just the right amount.
So, there I was, standing next to this very cute announcer, with nothing to do but watch the wheel slowly spin down as the 6-inch-long whisker at the 12 O’clock position rapidly clicked over each of the posts sticking out near the wheel edge.
Around and around the wheel turned, maybe 5 times altogether, each revolution going slower and slower. With what appeared to be about half a turn left, I could tell it was going to stop close to an opening with one of the two car logos.
It was still moving somewhat slowly when the whisker dropped off the peg and into the opening with the Mercedes-Benz logo. The whisker hit the next post, and started to bend as usual as it started to slide up the next post. If it went over, it would drop into an opening with a small cash prize and definitely not a car logo.
Up that next post the long whisker continued to slide, with the wheel moving slower and slower due to resistance in part from the whisker pressing and sliding on the post. With about 2 inches of whisker left before it would drop into the next opening, and with the wheel still moving slightly, the announcer looks at me and says in a disappointed voice, “Aw.”
Me? I wasn’t going to be distracted by someone else’s opinion. I had my own. I kept my eye on that whisker. I watched as that whisker rode up on the post until there was only about a quarter of an inch left before the wheel stopped turning. It had stopped before the end of the whisker was reached.
Such was the force of the whisker on the post, that the wheel then revolved backwards slightly, with the whisker now firmly and fully in the slot with the car logo. Nobody said anything for a moment. The surprise in the air was palpable. I thought about speaking up but, in all seriousness, I definitely wasn’t going to be the first person to speak into that extreme silence.
It must have been only a second or two, even though it felt longer, before the announcer (who had just said, “Aw” a moment ago) turned to me and said, “You’ve just won a car!” in kind of a stunned voice. I looked at her, and said, “I know!” That’s when it all started getting really busy, really fast.
Being Ready to Win
At this point, several things happened in rapid succession. I have to admit, I didn’t focus on much more than what was right in front of me. For instance, I have no idea what dollar amount, since the $500 to $1500 prizes were all that were left on the wheel, the second person whose name was announced along with mine might have won. I never so much as noticed who that person was.
I was quickly moved off to the side by the organizers, to fill out paperwork and be asked questions by the promotion organizer. I remember my handwriting being truly terrible when filling out the paperwork, because my hands were shaking quite a lot due to the adrenalin coursing through me I can only assume. I also remember two of my hosts from earlier in the day showing up quickly.
The very friendly Amanda said she’d been having dinner at the buffet when she heard my name being called, and ran right on over. The very delightful and always knowledgeable Jill appeared a short time later, then stood by giving nice, quiet, comfortable support. They were the only people I knew there when I won the car.
Before discussion of the payout method, the organizer asked if I’d like to have my picture taken, to which I replied that I couldn’t agree to that given I was wearing a t-shirt with my employer’s logo on it. They came back a few minutes later and offered to get me another shirt to wear, if that would help get me to agree.
Again, I respectfully declined. At the time, I wondered where they were going to get a shirt. Was one of the organizers going to go without? Later I realized that they would probably have gotten it from the casino gift store.
The point of the prior paragraph is really an attempt to explain the intensity of the experience of winning a car or other expensive prize in a large promotion. To wit, much of the experience is rather surreal. It seemed like a barrage of somewhat relevant and somewhat non-relevant questions. I just tried to answer each to the best of my ability. Some, due to my prior research, I was prepared to answer correctly.
The organizer’s other questions included if I would like the car itself, the cash award, or an equivalent in slot play?” I answered, as I’d planned, that I would prefer to accept the cash option. I’m glad that I did plan my answer, as they tried to be very convincing that I might actually want the slot play instead. That would have been a terrible choice given the winning strategy for that casino didn’t require much bankroll.
Accepting the slot play there would have ended up either being wasted or effectively unused when it eventually expired. I quietly yet firmly replied, again, that my preference was for the cash option. Once they seemed convinced of this, they then asked how I would like to receive it.
Since they’d asked, I requested all of it in cash. However, to my surprise, that wasn’t something they were quite willing to do. Rather than press the issue, I suggested an alternative of a 50% cashier’s check and 50% cash, which was readily agreed to.
Here’s another gambling anecdote from that evening. While waiting for the cashier to bring the check and cash, Amanda offered to take my picture in front of the car in the lobby using my mobile phone’s camera. After we did that, we talked for a while about various things.
I remember she said that my winning the car couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. That might be the nicest compliment I’ve ever gotten. But, we also talked of my habits of wanting a cash payout. This is something I no longer do, by the way, unless I play to spend it in a casino before leaving.
Amanda and I talked about why I wanted to have the full award in cash. Honestly enough, I told her that I liked those little brown paper bands wrapped around $10,000 in $100 bills. She seemed puzzled, and asked what possible use might I have for them.
I told her in a straight-faced manner that I’d been collecting them over the last 9 months or so, with the intention of looping them another, once I had enough of them, to create a sort of arts-and-crafts string that I hoped to eventually wrap around my Christmas tree.
For my efforts, I was pleasantly rewarded with quite an unrestrained belly laugh from my host. And, along with her surprised laugh, she appeared quite speechless by the image I’d described. That conversation was nearly as enjoyable as winning a car.
Once the cashier and manager brought my $20,000 check and $20,000 in two brown-paper-band bundles of $10,000 each, I requested a couple of the casino’s security guards walk me to my old, beat-up $500 car before leaving the casino without spending any of the cash. Doing so was my third personal success of the night.
Remembered After Having Won
The next weekend, I was attending an exclusive dinner at another casino located near to the casino where I’d won the car. While waiting in line to be checked in for the free door prizes, I happened to mention to the people I was standing in line with, presumably gamblers themselves, that I’d just won a car the previous weekend. I was completely surprised when they then proceeded to tell me my own name.
Apparently, they’d arrived for the drawing later that previous evening to find that the car had already been given away. Their logic or assumption was arriving later in the evening than I was that no one would win the car until later in the evening when many logos had all been attached to the spinning wheel.
Oh, and they didn’t appear particularly happy with me for having won the car before they had had a chance to. Others seemed genuinely happy for me, though.
Paying Those Pesky Income Taxes
Be aware that winning a car, or taking the cash option for it, is not exactly the same as a taxable jackpot. The casino called it a promotional award, and no income taxes are taken out at the time of the win. Instead, as I was informed and eventually proved to be true, an IRS Form 1090 Misc. for the amount would be received after the beginning of the next year, to be used when having annual income taxes prepared.
Having to pay taxes at the end of the year for winning a car is strong motivation for most people to choose the cash option, as this provides the actual cash necessary to pay the associated income taxes. In fact, a lot more organizations would give away cars at their, say, charity events but for the fact that the individual that wins cannot usually accept a cash option – and now has a big tax burden.
Learn to Comfortably Spin a Wheel, Just in Case
I recommend developing spinning a wheel as a skill. It is simple to learn, really. Perhaps build one to spin regularly. Get a feel for how it spins, the amount of push it takes to turn it. Also, make the resistance variable to get comfortable with how it feels to spin under a few different settings. Like when I won the car, spinning a wheel is occasionally a part of special events.
If a player can get instinctively comfortable spinning the wheel enough to be able to get it to land on one half or even one quarter of the wheel that they are trying to land on, the odds of landing in the opening of a specific prize during a casino wheel spin is 1/2 (50%) or 3/4 (75%) better odds, respectively.
Obviously, that’s a huge improvement to the odds of winning, an advantage play, unlikely to be achieved in simply any other way.
Summary of How I Won a Car
On August 31st of 2014, at the end of an amazing 9 months of slot machine casino gambling in which I won 90 taxable jackpots, each worth at least $1,200, I proceeded to win a car at a car at a casino. This was the story of how I won a car, based on my detailed notes and memories, originally written down as presented to you only a few months afterwards.
I’ve excerpted this story from a few pages in my 200+ page self-published e-book, Learning To Win. In it, I have shown you a circa-2014 casino environment at what I have taken to calling a newer-style casino. The story explains how modern car giveaways are performed, or at least how they might be performed at a modern casino.
I hope you’ll take away with you one specific thought: Be ready to win.
Other Articles from Professor Slots
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Next: How to Win at Slots in Older Casinos – I explain how to win at slots in older casinos by telling my story of learning to successfully improve the odds of winning via slots at an older-style casino, winning 13 taxable jackpots in 6 days, worth nearly $30,000, and an uncounted number of smaller jackpots.
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