Pop Culture

How My Love of Game Shows Made Me Money

I have my love of game shows to thank for being $100 richer.

I took a last second trip to Las Vegas this past weekend, and could barely pull myself away from the Press Your Luck penny slots. There are all sorts of pop culture games scattered throughout Vegas, from Sex and the City to Monopoly to The Wizard of Oz, but it was this old school game show machine that kept calling to me.

Game shows used to keep me occupied during the super hot days of summer, when the only time you went outside was to jump in the pool or run to the store for ice cream. I would watch the Price Is Right religiously, and loved Name That Tune, although I don’t know why because I never knew any of the songs from the ’70s. But my favorite, above all else, was Press Your Luck. 

How could you not love it? You got to scream “No Whammys!!!” like a maniac. If there was a contestant you disliked, you were able to watch them amass a small fortune and then lose it when said Whammy appeared on the screen. And then there was host Peter Tomarken, who had that awesome ’80s game show presenter swag (sadly, he died in a plane crash in 2006). If you have no idea what I am talking about and want to find out how the game worked, here’s the wiki on PYL.

I always wanted to go on the show, but it was filmed in the ’80s and I watched it (and was still a kid) in the ’90s, so it was impossible. With the slot machine, I was able to live out that dream. After feeding in about $5, I got three “Big Board” icons, meaning I was able to play the bonus round, which mimicked the actual Press Your Luck game. I was so ready for my big moment.

Before going to the board, a screen popped up with different tiles that changed every second or so. Behind the tiles were credits, spins or Whammys. I lucked out and got eight spins to use on the board and about $10 in credits before I got a Whammy and then made it to the board. I won about $18 during my spins, and then at the very end, I picked a bonus that quadrupled my win. In case you’re wondering, yes, I did say “No Whammys!” multiple times like a dork. But no, I didn’t care.

My final total was $111 and some change. It basically covered the money I brought with me to gamble, and then some. I was thrilled, despite the fact that, unbeknownst to me, I was in the middle of passing a kidney stone (which is a completely different and painful story for another time).

My dream slot already exists, but if you could pick one old school game show machine, what would you choose?

By Catherine

Catherine is a Southern California based freelance writer, whose work has appeared in everything from the New York Times to Entertainment Weekly. The highlight of her life (so far) was being featured on MSNBC for a story she wrote on Hello Kitty wines...she knew one day her love of all things HK would come in handy.

3 replies on “How My Love of Game Shows Made Me Money”

That sounds so serendipitious – when you saw that machine, you must have sensed it was your destiny (shame about the kidney stone, though).

I’ve been to Vegas once but didn’t do much gambling, so I had no idea there was such a variety of game show slot machines available. I’m guessing there wasn’t a Catchphrase machine, but man that would be fun. See?

Ps: I’m so jealous that you wrote a story on HK wines! That sounds awesome.

The good thing is, winning big distracted me from the pain I had been in for a few hours by that point! I had no idea it was a kidney stone and was terrified it was appendicitis…I’m grateful it wasn’t!

There are slot machines there for everything. Seriously. EVERYTHING. They had Airplane! machines, James Bond machines, American Idol machines. If it was a pop culture phenomenon within the past 40 years, I think it was there. That Catchphrase video was hilarious but no, can’t imagine that as a slot machine! haha

And yes, the Hello Kitty wine experience was like a dream…I actually wrote a post about it, but it turned into something quite personal and I’ve been waiting to kind of pare it down. I think I’ll finally get it up next Thursday!

Ooh, I look forward to reading it :) And yes, I guess better to have a kidney stone and win over $100 than have one and not win anything… and definitely better than appendicitis. I’m clearly going to have to go back to Vegas and explore the slots some more (preferably without losing my shirt).

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