The Haps: Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

| Scene Events Columnist

The Boot Hill Casino in Dodge City, Kan., is the first of its kind in the country—a casino where the slot machines and table games are all owned by the state. (Scott Canont | Kansas City Star | MCT)

The first time I gambled, my eyes anxiously followed the slot machine’s spinning cherries. It was stressful and exciting­­­. But it was also illegal: I was about 8 at the time. I was promptly escorted from the small casino and returned to my parents.

Since then, I’ve continued to respect the glamour, exhilaration and fickleness of Lady Luck only from afar. That is, until I made a trip to Lumière Place Casino, where I once again experienced gambling firsthand.

First of all, the place is massive. There are rows and rows of different types of machines and card-game tables that I’ve never heard of. Honestly, the casino can be a little intimidating unless you’re prepared for it. But there are simple steps you can follow to have a good time without losing the shirt off your back.

First, leave any money you don’t want to lose at home. You can always tempt your willpower, but honestly, it’s safer to bring only what you can afford. Second, beware of the reasonably priced drinks being sold by pretty ladies in short skirts. Sure, a few drinks are fine, but remember: cheap drinks lead to more drinks, which leads to less rational gambling. Third, know that despite the apparent variety of the slot machines ringing through out the casino, they are all essentially the same. But thanks to evolving technology, they no longer have levers and they print out paper vouchers instead of spewing out coins—in my opinion, a downgrade.

Fourth—and this is the big one—know when to walk away. There’s always a brief “Oh my God, oh my God” moment of pulsing adrenaline when you realize you have won. And it’s freaking awesome. But you have to quit while you’re ahead.

“It’s so intense,” said senior Colin Stomberski, after part of him told him to keep playing, and another part told him to walk away.

If you don’t really feel like gambling, there are other forms of entertainment at the casino as well. There are shows almost every night, and they range from Elvis impersonators to big-name bands. There are also several sleek bars with modern decors that are great for relaxing. You can also partake in my favorite casino pastime: people watching. You’d be surprised by the things superstitious people do or the things losers say.

The bright lights and promise of winnings at Lumière attract people like moths. If you’re over 21, check it out. It can give you a hell of an adrenaline rush. The 10 dollars I left with were the easiest I’ve ever made, but they were also the most nerve-wracking.

Other happenings:

Repeal of Prohibition Beer Festival: April 17

Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Ave., noon – 5 p.m. A beer festival with music and food. $30 at the door.

Cardinals’ Season Opener: April 12

Busch Stadium. Even if you don’t have tickets to the game, there will be events happening at bars and restaurants around the stadium.

Greater St. Louis Jazz Festival: April 16-17

UMSL, 8 p.m. See big names in jazz perform. Tickets $20-$35.