Posts Tagged ‘Empress Casino’

Fiery Scare, Temporary Death for a Special (to Me) Casino

by , Mar 21, 2009 | 5:04 pm

photo: Alex Garcia/Chicago Tribune

The Empress Casino in Joliet, IL, and its poker room of course, had to be evacuated yesterday as a big fire threatened to turn the first casino I ever gambled in to ashes.

At age 19, a couple of my Northwestern classmates and I would skip a few classes sessions of Super Mario and make the trek to Chicago’s outer suburbs … (I can’t remember if you only had to be 18 to gamble or if we used fake IDs) … and we all know where things have gone from there. When the Empress opened in 1992, you used to have to pay $12 to go on a “cruise” … i.e. the boats would leave the dock for about 10 feet. We were so excited to learn, after a few trips, that we could be playing enough $5 blackjack to get the pit boss to “comp” us another cruise ticket, and eventually we didn’t even have to stop playing or get off the boat! Ahh, our first taste of the high-roller life.

This is also where I was introduced to the concept of “a chip and a chair” when I once took my last $10 and put it on the 5-to-1 on the Wheel of Fortune and eventually left the casino that day up about $200, which was an absolute mint back then. It is also where I was exposed to (but didn’t quite get) the concept of bankroll management when my girlfriend at the time kept coming over to a blackjack table where I was winning and grabbing $30 or $40 every so often. I was pretty pissed at her by the time I ultimately went bust, thinking she blew my wad on slots little by little … but much to my pleasant surprise she was just pocketing the money, and when I later moaned to her about the bad beat I took with an 11 against the dealer’s 6, she was totally nonplussed and pulled out $265 that she had stashed away, telling me, here, this is yours … to which I responded “I love you”.