Bookmaker of Virtues


Happy Fun Pundit also weighs on on Bill Bennett's gambling habit, with some thoughtful entries in the comments section. Some other time, I'll tell you about my views on gambling. For now, I just want to say how appalled I am at Bennett's choice of games -- video poker and slots. I had higher expectations of the man; thought he'd at least play a table game like blackjack where there is some skill involved and a way of narrowing the odds. And if he did just want to turn his mind off and push buttons, wouldn't the nickel slots work as well for that purpose as the $500-a-pull variety?

Some of the comments on Happy Fun Pundit's post suggest he did it for the complementary perqs given to high rollers -- free rooms, food, booze, limos, show tickets. My last year in college, in 1985, I went with several fraternity brothers to visit the parents of one of them, who were playing blackjack in Atlantic City. They had complimentary rooms at several casinos, had complimentary meals. They put us up in one of their complimentary rooms in the Trump Tower, and one of the guys ordered Dom Perignon via room service -- all included in the complimentary service. My fraternity brother's parents gambled enough at blackjack to qualify for all these goodies, but because they knew basic strategy, how to pace your bets, and possibly a little card counting, they never lost much, and usually came out slightly ahead, enough to pay for the airfare, and they got to live like kings for a couple of days.

Speaking of "High Rollers" -- remember that craps-based quiz show? It's what Alex Trebek did before Jeopardy, with Ruta Lee as his dice girl. Also in the '70s you had game shows based on blackjack (Gambit, with Wink Martindale), slot machines (Joker's Wild, with Jack Barry), and roulette-like games (Press Your Luck, Wheel of Fortune).

Sorry. I was going to say something about the "Book of Virtues", but I drifted a bit. Anyway, here's a page with memories of the 1974 game show line-up, including a photo of a very mod Alex Trebek. The author of the page recounts happy memories watching game shows with his grandmother during summer vacation -- me, too. My summer schedule was built around the game shows, and you could pretty much spend all day watching them -- every network had them, and they ran all day long. At Grandma's house, game shows were supplanted only by Cubs baseball or Star Trek.

I hereby change this entry's category from "Culture" to "Whimsy".

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 13, 2003 1:44 AM.

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