By Karl Terry; PNT managing editor
I’ve always had a little bit of a gambler’s streak running through me, but never the extra money or lack of common sense needed to get serious about games of chance.
I’ve had more than my share of good luck, especially in raffles and other charity fund-raisers. Apparently it’s still with me. I’ve won the raffle at Rotary twice in the last few weeks — the first time for a little over $1,300 and the second time for just under $400.
At Rotary you have to buy tickets to participate and a portion of the sales each week goes toward the club’s projects. If your ticket number is called then you get to draw from a deck of playing cards for the queen of spades. If she’s not drawn, then the pot gets bigger and the card you chose is torn up and thrown away, increasing the chances of winning next time.
The first time I won, the deck was down to seven or eight cards and having a pot that size was rare for the club. The second win only a few cards had been taken out.
Needless to say, two wins at Rotary in close succession led to near riot conditions and requests that I be banned from the charity drawing. I’ve been allowed to continue buying tickets, but I’m suspicious my fellow Rotarians may have rigged the game against me. Oh well, I was only doing it as a way to contribute a little extra to a good cause anyway.
My lucky streak began early in my life. When I was in first grade, someone put my name in a drawing at one of the banks for a bicycle — and I won. Of course the bike was a full-size 26-inch Schwinn, but I eventually grew into it.
Growing up, I learned to play poker for matchsticks and then later for nickels, dimes and quarters with a $2 limit. Pool was a fun game but playing for quarters was as bold as it got.
I never had a problem matching to see who would buy the soda pop or pitching pennies while we waited on the press to run in the afternoons as a newspaper carrier. It was rare that I had to buy the pops and I always had more than my share of luck at any of the penny-ante games. I worked too hard for my money to risk very much of it though.
My biggest win ever was the time my ticket was pulled for a brand new Mercury Marquis at the annual Altrusa Car Party in Tucumcari. To clarify, it wasn’t actually my ticket, the newspaper had bought it and I was attending the party on the ticket. Either way I drove the car home that night. We later traded it in on a new delivery van for the paper. But I was stylin’ for one night.
The other memorable door prize I’ve won was the coveted quilt made by the ladies of the Rebekah’s Lodge in Carbondale, Colo., at Carbondale Mountain Fair. Thousands of tickets were sold in the raffle each year and lots of people really wanted one of those handmade quilts. I won one in my first year attending the fair.
So with all this luck you probably figure I play the lottery every week and it’s only a matter of time before I retire to my own island in the sun. Won’t ever happen. I’ve actually never bought a lottery ticket and probably never will.
The way I see it, lotteries are like a volunteer tax. The government says you can pay it or not. Instead I would rather put that money into a Rotary 50-50 drawing or something where I know I’m contributing to a good charity if I lose.
I’ve never been to Las Vegas or gone inside a casino either. Those places are in business to separate you from your money and they will. I’m maybe a little curious about trying Vegas but I would want a bankroll set aside that I knew I could waste then quit. I’ve never had the extra cash yet.
Maybe it’s that kind of kharma that keeps me lucky. Maybe I’ve made my last big win. But if you have a few dollars to waste I’ll set you up with some sure-thing lottery numbers I’ve never used — for a price.
Karl Terry is managing editor of the Portales News-Tribune. Contact him at 356-4481, ext. 33, or by e-mail: