HORSE’S MOUTH: I Sat Next to a $105,000 Winner!

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

Yeah, I know. When people read the following segment of today’s column, they’ll all mutter, “Oh, Horse, there you go again concocting wild stories.”

I have witnesses to what I am about to write, so I won’t worry about people thinking I’m just dreaming up a wild tale.

Here it is:

As most of you who meet me in Vegas know, I’m addicted to the quarter video keno machines. At the California Hotel, the quarter video machines are progressive slots.

That is, if one plays eight, nine or ten numbers for a dollar (four quarters) and hit all eight, nine or ten numbers, one can collect what the screen above the machines indicates.

I never concern myself with the progressive numbers because I play one quarter and only six numbers. If I hit all six, the prize is $400.

Every now and then I might put in two quarters, which would return $800.

Well, this past Monday, I was playing my one-quarter, six-number game when a young lady — who said she was formerly from Hawaii but now lives in Vegas — sat at the machine next to me.

She asked how I was doing and I kind of chuckled and said, “Horrible.”

She laughed and put a couple of $20 bills into the slot.

She then picked ten numbers, which caught my attention. And when she put in four quarters to start her play, I glanced up to see what the progressive payoff was if she hit ten out of ten for a dollar.

The sign read $105,000.

I figured to myself “no way” and continued to try to win my $400.

Well about five minutes passed by when I heard the lady scream, “I hit it! I hit it!”

I glanced over to her machine and sure enough, she hit ten numbers out of ten.

Almost immediately a huge crowd started to gather around her and I was almost pushed out of my seat.

When the casino public address system made the announcement — “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner on the quarter keno machine, setting a new California Hotel record for payoff on a quarter keno machine” — even more people started to gather.

What made me chuckle was when one of the fellows in the crowd asked me, “How does it feel to be sitting next to the winner of the highest payoff by The Cal on the quarter keno machine?”

I guess I wanted to ask the lady if she would give me a roll of quarters. Heh, heh.

Oh well, I guess I can only say I have fun with my one-quarter play and would be more than happy to win $400.

If I hit one six for six, I am almost guaranteed to come home with a few bucks in winnings.

Oh well, that’s life.

As all those who stay at The Cal know, the hotel, casino are owned by Boyd Gaming.

Well, to Boyd Gaming, paying out $105,000 to a casino patron is probably like me playing to win $400.

Boyd Gaming just purchased from Peninsula Gaming five casinos located in Kansas, Louisiana and Iowa for $1.45 billion. The purchase gives Boyd Gaming significant presence in the Midwest and Louisiana.

Keith Smith, CEO of Boyd Gaming, said the purchase would immediately increase profits and cash flow.

Boyd plans to use $200 million in cash and about $1.2 billion in debt.

Gosh, the $1.45 billion is almost as much as the new owners of the L.A. Dodgers paid to buy the club.

Oh well, I guess my putting in 25 cents for each game of the keno machine won’t have any bearing on Boyd’s purchase of five casinos.

For Monday and Tuesday, The Cal was more crowded than I expected.

Just waiting in line for dinner at the Market Street Cafe, The Cal’s restaurant, the huge crowd was evident. We had to wait about 20 minutes to get a table. Usually on a weekday, if we wait five minutes, it’s a long time.

One reason for the huge crowd was that Japanese Americans living in the Chicago area held a reunion. I was told 200 people arrived from the Midwestern city to participate in the event.

I learned about this when one of the attendees approached me and asked if I was “the Horse from The Rafu.”

When I said, “Yes,” he said he reads The Chicago Shimpo, which reprints my Rafu column.

He mentioned a few names attending the event that I recognized. They were former Los Angeles residents who moved to Chicago from relocation camps and never returned to Ellay.

The fellow also told me that the Chicago group was planning to go to Makino’s to try out the Japanese restaurant that I frequently write about.

“Most of the people want to try Makino’s to see if it’s as great as you write,” is the way the guy put it.

I’m not sure if Makino’s can seat 200 if everyone at the reunion decides to dine there.

Yeah, we went to Makino’s the day after the Chicago group. I didn’t ask any of the employees how it went with the large group.

The reason I have to go to Makino’s is that after four days in Vegas, I have to have my sushi and there’s not a better place for sushi.

The one thing that always catches my attention when I’m at Makino’s is that all of the Caucasian patrons eat more sushi than anything else on the menu.

I’m amazed how they pile up their plates at the buffet sushi counter.

Not only that, they come back for seconds.

Gee, if I eat a half-dozen sushi, that’s it for me.

Of course, I do go back for second or third servings of miso soup.

That’s another thing I miss at the dining rooms in Vegas — no miso soup.

Oh yeah, the Main Street Station Buffet serves miso soup on occasion, but not all the time.

As I mentioned previously, Makino’s has an automatic miso soup machine. I’ve never seen it anyplace else and wondered why. It seems like a great way to serve miso soup.

Of course, those who use the automatic miso soup maker have to add their own tofu and whatever else they want in their bowl. But it’s no big problem. I just scoop up the wanted ingredients that are next to the machine.

Oh yeah, one of the waitresses at the Vegas Makino’s asked me if I had tried their new place in Irvine.

I told her I was invited to the grand opening so I did attend the new site.

Needless to say, she asked me what my opinion was of the newest Makino’s.

I told her it was great but my favorite is still the one in Vegas.

Upon my return to Gardena, I had to go through my usual routine of deleting the huge amounts of email I receive while I’m out of town.

It’s no easy task since I want to save a number of them. One was from a college student attending Northwestern University. The student wants to interview me about my newspaper career.

I’m not sure if I want to respond to such a request. At any rate, I did send her my phone number, so if she is serious abut chatting with me, I’ll respond.

A friend who is a Rafu subscriber called me a few hours after I returned from Vegas.

He wanted to discuss the story in Wednesday’s edition of The Rafu, a front-page story complete with a photo.

It was about a young lady named Kay Watatake, who was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel recently.

The friend, who also knows about my family, asked, “Wasn’t your son promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel last year?”

When I answered in the affirmative, the friend asked, “I don’t remember seeing a story about his promotion. Did I miss the copy of The Rafu in which it was published?”

His promotion didn’t get any publicity except in my column. You know, a proud father.

I guess that’s enough on the subject.

Maybe if my son is ever promoted to the rank of general, I’ll try to get The Rafu to give him a plug.

I’m glad the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) is getting more recognition in recent times.

There was a time when talk about the Nisei in military service during World War II was strictly about the 100th/442nd and their accomplishments in the European Theater.

However, somewhere down the road, people started inquiring about the Nisei who served in the MIS.

When the story started to unravel, the MIS was added to stories about World War II.

There was another unit that still doesn’t get much recognition.

That would be the Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC), which was part of the MIS but was a highly secretive unit.

There weren’t that many Nisei in the CIC, but those who served in the top-secret organization were given credit for their contributions to the war effort in the Pacific Theater and later the occupation of Japan.

Perhaps one of these days, the letters “CIC” will be added to the list of Nisei who served their country during WWII.

A few baseball notes:

Hideki Matsui, who was demoted from the Major Leagues, is hoping to make it back to the Bigs after playing with the Tampa Bay Triple A team.

He knows he must do well in the minors to accomplish his desire. So far he is doing so-so.

Another baseball note of interest:

The new owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers said they will concentrate more on signing players from the Far East, especially Japan.

To accomplish this task, they are hiring scouts to operate in areas such as Japan. So it might not be too long for Dodger fans to see a Japanese in the local club’s lineup.

Cheers.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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