I hate gambling, but I love slot machines. “For the plotlines,” as they say. Well, I guess they don’t say that about slot machines, but it applies. The magic behind casino slot machines is that (shhh) they are all the same. The same rules, the same odds, the same complimentary ashtrays piled next to the levers.
It really shouldn’t matter what the theme of the game is—be it “Fantastical Unicorns” or “Dean Martin’s Wild Party”—but it does matter. Gamblers like myself spend hours wandering around casino floors looking for the fated machine that feels lucky. I decided to find and survey Mohegan Sun’s most pop culturally relevant slot machines. Was one of them my slot soulmate, destined to help me hit the jackpot? (Spoiler: No.) Here’s what I found. Starting Balance: $50
“Sex and the City”
These things were conveniently peppered across the casino floor, so I decided to start there. Plus: My friend Kelly recently won $200 on the “Sex and the City” slots PRECEDENCE. Each SATC protagonist has his or her own slot iconery and casino value—or “progression,” as they call it. Among the ladies, the order is: Carrie (glimmering laptop), Samantha (sexy dog collar), Miranda (scales of justice), and lastly, Charlotte (baby rattle). (I guess Charlotte’s uptight demeanor and hazy art gallery gig was deemed not high-roller enough for the slot machine game lords.) But the big prize only comes from the big moneymaker himself, Mr. Big. Apparently even in the casino world freethinking New York women can’t edge out their male counterparts.
Remaining Balance: $35
The bro’s version of the “Sex and the City” slots, you’d imagine, but the only person playing “The Hangover” slots was a charming middle-aged woman who complained to me that “there used to be a lot more of these slots, and now are only four—pushed into a corner.” Her husband was “off playing the cards” and she was betting high ($2 a bet is very high!) on the hope that Ed Helms’ bloody tooth might come up more than once. Other icons included Mike Tyson’s tiger, Zach Galifianakis’ bearded mug, and “Mr. Wong”—who she explained was the slot’s “most valuable.” As she flipped virtual Polaroids during a bonus mini game, she searched for this Mr. Wong—I realized that this is just what the characters did in the film, except his in the film they called him Mr. Chow, because that is his name. Continuity! (Sort of.)
Remaining Balance: $20.23
“Big Buck Hunter”
“Big Buck Hunter” appeared to be traditional slot at heart, but a plastic shotgun plugged into the machine promised that you might get to shoot at some virtual deer. To my dismay, players have to rack up some pricey bonuses before even getting CLOSE to loading that weapon. There was no way I was gambling enough to justify playing an arcade game that normally costs anywhere from $2 to $5 in a bar. Only high rollers would get a chance to let off some rounds, while I watched sadly from the sidelines.
Remaining Balance: $10
“Lord Of The Rings”
My gambling companion (a free vodka and pineapple juice) and I thought we might like the promise of Mordor money, if only because this machine included a cool map where you could “unlock” bonuses as you virtually travel through the fantastical land. I was down to just $10 of self-imposed play money, and I doubted these Hobbits would provide any added luck. While those of a nerdier persuasion might be think Tolkien knowledge might help here, let me assure you that there is no added strategy value to this one. Stick to Warcraft.
Remaining Balance: $0.66
Don’t even get me started on this one. There’s nothing more torturous than a slot machine that promises a beloved game (I’m looking at you, “Wheel of Fortune”) and turns out to be…not that. Bootleg actors playing the suspects carried deadly candlesticks across giant screens, and each machine allowed another gambler to “enter” the game as the character of their choice. Soon, I wanted to hang MYSELF, with the ROPE, at the CASINO.
Ending Balance: $0.03
Lesson learned: Maybe next time I should stick with video poker at the bar. Free drinks, minimal movement.
Lindsey Weber is a writer (duh) living in Brooklyn (duh).