Postcard from Australia

Posted: Wednesday, September 27, 2000

G'day mates,

I think I've found where they took all the poker machines that were pulled out of South Carolina: Australia. On just about every corner there seems to be a bar with "pokies," as they're called here.

Since they seem to be a big part of the Sydney social scene I decided to do some research. I will not, however, do any research, nor do I want to know anything about Sydney's other social phenomenon, legal brothels. So don't even ask. The answer is no, I didn't.

Some friends and I checked out the Lidcombe Catholic Workman's Club, Ltd. because we heard it had great food. The food was adequate, but the atmosphere was great.

It was exclusive: "You want to join? Just sign here." No membership fee, no secret handshake, no monthly dues. My kind of club.

They did ask Tim to remove his hat. That led us to look at the other rules posted near the door. I almost reconsidered my membership. They included no football jersey, no overalls, no bare feet, no bra tops, no short shorts, no thongs, no transparent clothing.

They did, however, have a 24-hour casino, filled with pokies. I sat down at one that featured a picture of Groucho Marx as kind of a wildcard. I popped in my money and had no idea what was going on. It was the most confusing slot machine I had ever seen.

When you win there are weird colored lines showing you how you won, and I still didn't understand it. There also were signs warning that gambling is addictive and the odds of winning the top prize are about one million to one.

Undaunted, I threw in more money after I lost my initial investment. Suddenly my credits started going up. I couldn't lose. Groucho kept showing up, I kept piling up the credits. But I'm no fool. I know when to quit when I'm ahead, so I cashed in and the machine spat out my winnings. My companions laughed, but they had lost all their money and I was a winner. I took my bonanza and applied it to a Cuban cigar. (They're legal here and everywhere else in the world except the United States.)

Oh, did I forget to tell you? The machine was a two-cent machine. Hey, I'm not cheap. I didn't play the penny machines. I put in $2 and eventually cashed out $3. In American money I won about 55 cents. Just don't tell the IRS. They'll probably make me pay taxes on it.

See ya later,


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