Short & snappy

  • I have no tears for you in case I need them for myself
  • Cars with sun tops are for drivers with bald pates
  • Why should a fact of life always be something nasty? Why can’t it be something good
  • When life is less than thrilling, even French lessons can give me a frisson
  • Anticipation is better than the real thing, but I’ve always had inferior taste
  • I sell the best hours of my life @ $100 per hour for 8 hours a day. Many things sell for a lot more
  • We waste most what we can least afford — Time
  • Enemies should be treated like termites. Send for the exterminator
  • Insecurity is declaring you aren’t free to accept an invitation — before you’re even asked, for fear you won’t be asked at all

Good bye Marina Bay Sands, hello savings!

Sunday, Jan 6, was a good friend’s 52nd birthday. I usually remember it but since her 50th in 2011, I have more reason to remember !

Because it was immediately after her 50th birthday lunch that I signed up for an anual pass to Marina Bay Sands, spending a cool $2,000 levy to buy myself an unlimited number of visits to the MBS casino 🙄

Yet I didn’t max out my full quota as I found out the other day when cleaning out one of the small purses in my handbag.

I stopped going to MBS from Sep 6, 2011! This was based on two cash-out tickets that I had allowed to expire — OK, one for all of 4 cents but the other was more substantial at $12+.

Reason: believe it or not, it was due to my being upgraded to a Gold Card membership. From where, it was all the way downhill.

I first did mental jigs of joy with the upgrading. As I got to eat at the Ruby Room in the Gold Members’ level as well as got to drink free wine. All detailed here.

But like all good things, there’s a downside and none so obvious as a continuing losing streak — not just at the machines in the Ruby Room’s premises but also at the machines among the hoi polloi downstairs. This despite the fact that among the hoi polloi downstairs, the bets were far smaller than in the Ruby Room.

Did my “luck” change? Or did I lose because some unseen computer was calculating my input and making sure that the sums would nudge me to the tables manned by humans or nudge me to pour more $ in?

OK, I’m not alleging that the MBS computers program players to lose but having played Bejewelled2 on and off, I’m always curious how I’m always able to get thru the first level but not beyond? Is it because Level 1 is easier, the odds better? Or is it to tempt players to go on?

In my MBS experience, be4 I became a gold card member I was at worst more or less even, not counting my entrance levy that G imposes on all Singaporeans n PRs.

At one point I was even confident I should make enough to cover my carpark fees — redeeming it with my play points — and win enough for the next annual fee. That confidence soon went down the ka-chink of the visits subsequent to my “upgrade” to the rarefied atmosphere of the Ruby Room.

Were the free food and wine (I liked the buffet and the free flow of wine, tho I never ate or drank a lot but being a true-blue Singaporean a free-feed always tastes better in the mind, anyway) not already paid for several times over at the end of the day when I lose $50, $100 or horrors $300+?

So as I lost more, my ardour for the MBS casino cooled distinctly — because I saw no point in a relationship that made me unhappy at the end of every visit and apprehensive at the start of another.

Quite different prior to June when the 1st few months after I signed up went like a dream. I looked forward to every visit confident that I would win something or, at worse, break even.

As a value-minded customer, I didn’t see why I should spend good money only to be made unhappy, repeatedly.

I stopped going.

MBS didn’t stop trying to get me to visit again. I got all sorts of promotional letters about shopping and shows which didn’t interest me since I didn’t go to the integrated resort to shop or view shows in the first instance.

MBS tried to lure me with reminders that points I had built up were about to expire. Well, I did go back once with some friends — to use up the free parking perks but none of us bothered even to go near the casino.

If every local resident player at MBS is like me, then G has no need to worry about raising the entry levy. Because by making us losers, MBS provides the natural and most effective barrier 😆

Postscript: I probably went to MBS no more than 40 times in 2010, so the per entry levy worked out to about $50 on average. I also probably suffered a total net loss of $5K to $7K.

Not a huge sum in absolute terms but priceless for turning me off gambling at the casino — at least on this side of SG.

I’ve never been to Resorts World Sentosa, not for lack of lures. As a Genting shareholder, I was intially offered perks to sign up as a casino member. But I didn’t bite.

Even if I do eventually, it’s unlikely that I will want to spend as much time and money on something that I already know is a dead loss!

I went to Resorts World Sentosa…

.. over two days last week, stayed for 10 hours the first day, six hours the second, and guess what? I didn’t  step into the casino even though signs everywhere indicated it was just a short stroll away.

So why the heck did I go to Resorts World Sentosa if I wasn’t headed for the casino?

Believe it or not, if I had wanted to go to a casino, I would have gone to Marina Bay Sands, for which I’ve already paid my $2k of levy for one year. Why would I want to pay more levy $ to enter another casino?

The reason I went to RWS was to nosey a bit at a 2-day conference organised by a friend who kindly invited me to check it out. The only caveat: don’t come after the VIPs which meant I was expected to present myself well be4 kick off time.

For a normally late riser like me, it was sure and sheer agony. The first day, two fellow non-VIP participants gave me a lift, as I’d not been to RWS since it started receiving visitors, might have got well and truly lost and turned up after the VIPs — which won’t be a good thing for the organisers!

The following day, I drove there myself but because the direction-signs sucked real bad I found myself making two rounds of the resort be4 finding the carpark meant for conference participants and ended up just a few steps ahead of the 2nd day’s VIPs.

Still, the conference amenities were impressive enough, especially the washrooms. And there was a feeling of solidness everywhere I went.

Yet I was glad to call it a day when the conference closing lunch ended at 3pm. This despite another friend working with the organisers suggesting that I spend the rest of the afternoon at the casino since I was already there, with complimentary carparking to boot.

No way! I go to a casino only when I’m well rested and in the right frame of mind. I plan my visits to MBS as carefully as if I were going into battle, even if most times, I hit and run.

Sleep-deprived and mind swamped by too much intellectual discussions apres the conference would be a sure formula for gambling disaster.  Also, I certainly wasn’t going to pay $100 and stay just two or three hours, right?

So I gave Resort World’s casino a miss and will continue to do so, until the validity of my 12-month pass to MBS expires — or until some kind soul presents me with a RWS membership. I can always dream on, no? 😆

Woot! I’m now MBS gold card member!

Well, I could hardly believe it. I had been aiming to be a gold card member ever since I took on Marina Bay Sands ordinary Premier Advantage membership card a year ago. But I didn’t think how I could ever achieve the 388 “points” needed to enjoy the upgrade, not within 12 months anyway.

I don’t need to think any more, cos thanks to the $2K treat I gave myself on Jan 2 this year — ie I paid the full-year levy to enter MBS instead of paying the $100 per 24-hour levy — I’ve gone to MBS more often in June 2011 alone than I did in the almost seven months in 2010 after first stepping into the casino.

It’s true that by paying a full-year’s levy has encouraged me to go more often. But hour-wise, I’ve stayed far fewer hours per visit than when I paid $100 per visit. Fact was/is, I decided to pay the full year levy partly for fear of collapsing in the casino while trying to max the benefit of the $100 paid each time. So much about the past.  For the present, let me present, in sequence, my latest cashout tickets with which I left the casino on each of the last three visits.

June 27 loot

The first (left) is the one I left the casino with, wings on my feet and a gold card in my handbag because the 8 premier dollars I earned on June 27 took my account to 388 premier $, the key to gold card membership. So co-incidental, said the girl at the counter when I went to redeem my parking ticket.

I’m not sure it’s exactly co-incidental, because I continue to harbour suspicions about the casino being able to monitor every move I make, every $ I win or lose. And with that info what else might it not machinate 😆

I could have stayed on to enjoy my newly gained privilege by going to MBS Ruby Room (on the same level as those ultra-ex restaurants like Guy Savoy) but the Korean drama Dong Yi tugged me homewards as I had to catch the unfolding love situation between the palace maid and the King.

Still, a note on my gambling funds account that I started the June 27 visit with is in order. I went with a cashout tix of $431, as written about here. As I wanted to be strictly clear about whether it’s my money I’m gambling with or it’s the casino’s, I converted the tix into cash as soon as I entered.I put away $200 that’s my own money in the cashout ticket.So the $238 tix I left with meant that after several hours of hot slots, I actually made only $7!!

June 30 loot

Cashout tix (above) is the outcome from my first visit to the Ruby Room as a full-fledged member on June 30. After a sucky start, I managed to build the cash tix to a value of $600+ be4 realising with shock and horror that the slots in the Ruby Room were knocking me for between $2.50 and $5 per spin.

Not my scene at all and after hastily finishing a complimentary glass of house wine, I decided to pack up and rejoin the hoi-polloi in the open casino floors.

Bad idea, especially when I had a restricted amount of time to play, having to leave for my last session of chair yoga shortly, both for the yoga lesson and the superb cakes that a yoga mate makes for the class. She doesn’t do it every time but would surely bring some to mark the end of one course, be4 the start of the next one!

So between the Rubby Room and the hoi polloi casino floor, I went from $600+ to $366. Worse, the $366 I left with didn’t mean that I had made more than on June 27.

Quite the contrary. During the sucky moments in the Ruby Room, my June 27 loot vanished in no time and I found myself investing another $280 be4 the slots began paying.

My heart was in my mouth! I wanted to tear my hair. I must steel myself against making further investmenst. Something in the casino’s computer system must have noticed my distress because lo and behold, I started to win, starting with a mini jackpot and so on and so forth, till my credit balance in the machine showed $600+.

I left the Ruby Room then but not the casino as it wasn’t absolutely time yet for yoga and hanging around MBS is a lot more comfortable — tho a lot more expensive — than hanging around the Kampung Glam Community Club.

I was wiser but poorer when I finally left for yoga class. A $366 cashout tix which after deducting my $280 fresh capital injection meant that the casino’s money in my pocked had dwindled from $368 to just 86 bucks!

I might be down but I wasn’t out. I wanted revenge. The next day, July 1, saw me back at the casino right after an enjoyable lunch with the Lunch Party — more about that in another post about this latest monthly gathering — determined to be focus and careful.

And I was. No more Ruby Room for me. No more walking around either. I stayed put with the quartet of  Three Kingdoms machines on the non-smoking floor, starting with the 2nd machine from right which happened to be unoccupied when I arrived.

Then I moved to the 1st machine when the gambler gave in. I moved again after gamblers and casual try-their-luck walk-bys gave up on Machine No 3 .My gambling funds waxed and waned. More importantly, I didn’t need to do any top up. But I wanted to win.

So after the 4th and last machine’s hogger finally gave up and a walk by rushed to take her place only to give up almost immediately, I moved there.

Yup and this machine gave me the winnings I needed. They built up slowly but surely until I hit the $600 limit and then kept vacillating between $500 and $550. I was almost resigned to having to leave for my Korean drama without first achieving my target. I left with this on July 1.

Then again perhaps some system in MBS was monitoring and timing my arrival and departure times, took pity on me and granted me one large win that swelled my credit to $600 once more (below). And I cashed out, happy, very happy to leave — for the time being.

But remember, after deducting the $280 top-up, my takings from the casino is just $320. Still a long way to go be4 recovering the $2K I had paid out in levy 🙄

I left with this on July 1

Winning slot machines @ Marina Bay Sands

People who know I’ve been going to the Marina Bay Sands casino religiously in order to make the $2K levy I paid for 12 months worthwhile, have asked what are my favourite machines.

I flippantly reply that my favourite slots are those that let me walk away with winnings.

Seriously though, I’ve walked away with more pluses than minuses overall on average but no single day’s win adds up to anything significant, unlike one retired banker who made $40K on her first visit, or so I was told by a mutual friend.

The reason is that I don’t gamble big.

I look for machines that let me invest no more than 50 cents per gamble and yet cover all the bases. And there aren’t that many machines in this category in the pantheon of 1,600 slots that MBS boasts of.

Sure there are 1-cent, 2-cent machines aplenty but many of them start with minmum gambles of 100 bets or more — which doesn’t suit my purse at all.

Still, I managed to have luck with the Butterfly Kisses machine situated below a yellow open top car — it’s a prize, I think, tho it’s been there in the whole year I’ve been visiting, so either no one has won or it’s just an indicative prize — on the casino’s non-smoking floor.

Although it’s a five-cent machine, I always confine myself to just 10 bets. The result? I must say it’s not a bad payor!

Another favourite is the Super Jackpot Party machine which costs just 40 cents to cover all bases. But there are only two such machines that I know of and most time, they are occupied. Another “but” is that there’s some predictability in their “yields”.

After a while the player ie me will notice that there’s a certain cycle of pay-out followed by a long dry period. The bottom line is that if one hangs around this slot too long, the player will end up losing.

The same could be said of most of the other slots, so the mantra is ‘harvest, harvest, hit and run.”

This said, there is one exception where I’m concerned. I’m referring to a group of four slots whose paylines are based on the heroes of the Three Kingdom who appear as “wilds”. They are situated next to one slot based on Ms Piggy. All are in a row on the left hand side on the non-smoking floor, if one entered the casino from the street-level entrance.

my latest MBS harvest

I’m happy to report that I’ve always been able to walk away with something whenever I play these slots, though until yesterday I’ve never been sure how much winnings were yielded by the Three Kingdom machines, as I skipped here and there all over the casino, trying out this or that machine, within my self-imposed budget.

However because of time constraint yesterday, I could only sample these four machines, spending about two hours in all on them.

And I walked away with more than $535 which after deducting the $100 cashout ticket I started with — leftover from a previous visit — I had won $435! 😀

The only trouble with the 3 Kingdom slots is that they don’t seem to reward “points” as generously as other more cash-guzzling slots.

So if one were collecting points in the hope of moving up to the next level of MBS Premier Advantage membership or to redeem car parking charges or both, then these slots aren’t going to give the player the desired points.

Still, a quick calculation tells me that if my winnings from these slots could more than cover the $24 car parking charge — if one were to stay long, long — then playing 3 Kingdoms may be more worthwhile than playing others! 😆

Flushed with $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

On Wednesday I went to the Great Singapore Sale preview for TANGS’ cardmembers with its by now fairly regular 12% rebate thrown in.

It’s been a while since I went to TANGS on days when member rebates doubled from the normal 6% to 12%.

When I entered the store I remembered why I had been giving the 12% rebate occasions a miss — the whole place was like a mad house with long snaking queues everywhere waiting to pay. 

Still I steeled myself as I needed perfume (actually eau de toilette) and cleansing creme. My daily use of these two items — an expensive habit formed decades ago when I lived in the UK and which I’ve been unable to unlearn despite having left that country almost a life-time ago — made it imperative that I replenish regularly.

And I tend to do that whenever TANGS gives its 12% discount, provided my stock of eau de toilette and cleansing creme are co-incidentally at a low level.

In recent years, however, I needn’t time my purchases so closely as the 12% rebate appears to be offered more frequently. So I tended to give that bait a miss whenever I remember the crowds, unless like May 25, when I was almost out of perfume!

If I thought the TANGS’ crowd stressful, I was in for another shock (or surprise) when today I drove from lunch at Level 33 at Marina Bay Financial Centre to Marina Bay Sands — not to gamble but to buy some Royce confectionary to present to a family member who is hosting lunch this coming Sunday for all the May babies in the family.

I couldn’t believe it when I saw a queue of cars waiting to get into the MBS carpark!

I should have wised up and not join the queue and instead go to anothe Royce outlet!

But I didn’t wise up because in all my two dozen visits to MBS, I’d never ever had problems getting into the carpark or my pick of parking lots. So I assumed it must be a small hiccup that would resolve quickly.

So I joined the queue of cars and inched my way into the carpark, a decision which I couldn’t reverse because once on the path descending into the carpark, there was no turning back!

Cursing and swearing mentally, and wasting some 20 minutes, I got in and got to Royce to make my purchase. And of course I had to pop into the casino to say hello, hello and then good bye, as I had other errands to run.

And guess what? Even after more than an hour after entering, there was still a queue of cars waiting to get into MBS.

What the shopping crowd at TANGS and the car queue at MBS tell me is this: residents and visitors to Sg have $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to burn! Which is not a bad thing, provided one doesn’t mind the crowds! 🙄

Casino conversations

Whenever I tell people that I enjoy going to our casinos — actually singular is more accurate, as I’ve only been going to Marina Bay Sands — I get incredulous looks and shocked exclamations.

“No!” “You gamble!” “Why?”

“Don’t you get embarrassed if you run into people you know at the casino?”

It’s as if I’ve confessed to a shameful vice.

“No” is my honest and spontaneous reply to the question about running into friends and acquaintances. In any case, if they are also in the casino we are in the same boat, yes?

Not that I’ve run into that many people I know probably because

1) most of those I know don’t venture into the local casinos, mayb in the mistaken belief that it’s something sinful or shameful or both

2) it could also be that a small number of them are such big-rollers that they won’t be seen dead in the open casino floor which is where those who make 1 or 2 cent bets like me hang around.

And those whom I have run into are not in the least bit shy or embarrassed either and would have stuck with me all the time I’m there to chat and socialise, if not for the fact that I go to MBS to gamble not to chat or catch up.

Usually after a short polite exchange, I always excuse myself, unless I had pre-arranged for us to meet at the MBS which so far I’ve done only with ST.

So in short while I’m happy to greet and meet people I know, I don’t enjoy teaming up with anyone to surf the casino, strangers or friends alike.

Because if company is the intention, I’ve no need to go to MBS 😛