The $25,000 Man

Who says good things never happen to good people?


If you have ever met my brother, Glen, you know he is a great guy. It does not take long to like him once you meet him. Easy going, funny, and charming, I am never embarrassed to introduce him to anyone. Amazing with numbers, he is very smart. As an all-conference third baseman for Central Washington University, he is very athletic.  Judging by the girls he introduces me to and what others say about him, he is, putting it nicely, a ladies man. Yes, Glen has a lot going for him and has many good qualities.


However, Glen is not perfect. If you push his buttons just the right way (believe me, I have) he can blow up. He sleeps in too much. He doesn’t always apply himself to the best of his ability. He doesn’t always respect authority as well as he should. Rational decision-making is a struggle for him. He drinks way too much…


Okay, I am getting off track. The only vice I really needed to convey about Glen for the purpose of the incredible story I am about to tell about him is that he is awful with money. Any type of currency burns holes in his pockets. I have seen Glen throw so much of his money away on useless crap/gimmicks/thrills that I could write a book about his terrible decisions. Because of the way he handles money combined with the fact that he is a college athlete with little time to work between school and baseball, Glen never really had much money on him. In his twenty-one years of life, he never really knew what it was like to be able to do what you wanted when you wanted.


Ten months ago, Glen was sitting in a bowling alley casino in Spokane, Washington, called Lilac Lanes. He was playing a favorite table game of his called Paigow. Now I don’t want to get into too many specifics about this game and confuse/bore a bunch of you but here is the basic premise: You get seven cards. You have to make a two card poker hand and a five card poker hand. Your five card hand has to beat your two card hand. You play against the dealer.  In order to win the hand you must beat both the two card hand and the five card hand of the dealer. The game is very slow so to liven it up they have a couple of bonus bet options that you can partake in.


This night my brother was with a couple of his baseball buddies and one of the baseball buddies’ girlfriend. The three of them were watching Glen play as he sat at a table with some of the regulars, you know, the people who have no lives. Dealing at the table was a cute girl named Jenna, a single mom about twenty-five years old…my brother would always hit on her.


Glen had five dollars on the bet, one dollar on the bonus bet, and one dollar on the progressive jackpot. Again, I am not going to get into mindless details because for non-paigow players they are boring and make little sense. But again, here is the gist of what happened: My brother was dealt a royal flush. He was given an Ace-King-Queen-Jack-Ten of hearts. Because a royal flush pays 2,000 to 1 in paigow my brother had instantly just won $2,000 because he had one dollar on the bonus bet. People at the table and my brother’s friends immediately became excited. Jenna immediately called the casino floor over to verify his amazing hand. When floor came over, they quickly realized that Glen was due a lot more. Remember how I told you that paigow is a seven card game? Well, the other two cards that Glen held in his hand were a King-Queen of spades. This gave him a royal match. What Glen really had been dealt was a royal flush-royal match.


As I mentioned above, Glen had a dollar on the progressive jackpot. For the progressive jackpot, the minimum/maximum qualifying bet is one dollar. People at paigow play this bet like it is going out of style and of course it rockets the jackpot up like crazy. Glen’s royal flush-royal match was a progressive jackpot qualifier to the tune of 50%. What was the jackpot?….. Over $46,000. Yes, over $46,000. In addition to the $2,000 Glen had already secured because of his royal flush, he had just won $23,000.


Lilac Lanes started to become a circus. News spread throughout the place in a matter of seconds that some twenty-one year old kid had just won $25,000. Glory hounds started to crowd around my brother, poker games split up to watch the commotion, people filtered in from the bowling alley to witness the madness. The floor did their best to restore order. Nothing could be touched or moved. They had placed a call to the owner of the casino. At 12:30am the owner had to drive from his house to the casino to verify the hand.


To the owner’s credit, he treated my brother with decency and respect. I have no idea how big of a punch to the stomach that must be for your business to pay out $25,000…to a twenty-one year old semi-drunk kid…on a cold winter night….after you had fallen soundly asleep. Anyway, upon looking at the hand and reviewing surveillance tape, the owner declared it a valid hand.


The owner and the manager ushered my brother over to the cage and with the owner on my brother’s left and the manager on my brother’s right, the cage person went to work. They first calculated taxes right on the spot and took it out of his winnings. That is Uncle Sam at work but at least Glen never saw that taxed out money in the first place. They took 28% (he would later get a $3,000 refund check). Next, they started to actually pay my bro. They first cut him a check for the amount of $12,500. They then paid him out $5,000 in cold hard cash. The cage person counted out 50 one hundred dollar bills to my brother. Next, they gave him $1,500 in chips.


It was time for the outrageousness to start.


My brother gave the cage guy $100 for his labor of counting out all of that cash. Next, my brother went over to Jenna, the dealer who dealt him the infamous hand. Like it was no big deal, my brother gave her the $1,500 in chips PLUS five hundred dollars in cash. That’s right, he had just tipped Jenna TWO THOUSAND DOLLARS. She practically had a breakdown as she thanked my brother over and over saying how much she needed the money and how she could now complete her Christmas shopping. She also communicated the fact that she was going to buy a big screen tv.


My brother then took sympathy on the seven other dealers working that night who did not have the fortune of dealing Glen that hand. As an act of holiday spirit and good will, he gave each of those seven dealers $100 apiece.


Of course since my brother had just turned twenty-one and because he had just hit the biggest jackpot ever in that casino, he needed to  celebrate it by ordering shots for him and his friends. The waitress came back with the shots and the total was $9…my brother only had $100 bills on him so he paid the waitress with one of them….and told her to keep the change.


My brother then took care of his friends. He gave $100 each to the three people he was with. He tried to tip the owner and manager but they said they could not accept it. When my brother had finished lavishing randos with money and decided to leave, they had a security guard escort my brother to his car. He slipped the security guard $20. The security guard looked around awkwardly knowing he probably shouldn’t take it but then stuffed it in his pocket.


With about 30 minutes left in bar time, my brother and his friends went to a popular place in North Spokane called Fizzie Mulligans. Word had already spread to the bar by that time. For thirty glorious minutes, my brother partied like a rock star. The kid who had never had money in his life was living like a king.


At 2:30am my brother arrived at my parent’s house. He woke them up and made it rain in their bedroom with his $100 bills…I am not making this up.


The next morning my mom made one of the best decisions that she could have possibly have made. She took about 65% of my brother’s winnings and put it into a secure account that only she could access. They agreed that when Glen needed money, he would notify her and she would transfer funds to my brother’s personal account. I know if you are reading this that might sound unfair but if you know my brother then you know that it was for his own good. My brother did not argue with my mom’s plan.


That day I came to Spokane from Missoula with the reason being that the next morning we were taking a family vacation to Las Vegas. Again, I am not making this stuff up. Right off the bat my brother gave me $300 saying it was the least he could do for all the stuff I had bought him when we had hung out and traveled together over the past couple of years since I got my job. We had an amazing time in Vegas. We bought stuff we didn’t need to, we got VIP at a couple clubs, and Glen went on $600 swings at the Caesars Palace blackjack tables.


To this day, people still talk about “the hand”  from the casino personnel to kids my brother went to high school with. What they focus on though is not really the large amount of money my brother won but rather the ridiculous generosity he displayed with his winnings. At Lilac Casino, my brother is a hero.


Yes, my brother gives back a little bit of his fortune to the various casinos of Washington state on a weekly basis. He still loves frequenting those joints for the cheap booze and the thrill of unknown cards in the palm of his hands. Despite my efforts of telling him to give it up and get out while you are ahead, I must remember that old habits die hard.


As I have gone on my life adventures, I have met some of the stingiest, greediest people you will ever encounter. Although financially able, they won’t donate a cent of their income to a disaster relief cause or participate in a fundraiser for a neighbor kid. They won’t chip in with the rest of the office to buy a gift for the boss or won’t ever remember someone on their birthday. To these cheapskates I would like them to look at my brother. Even with a lot of his winnings washed up now (he still has some!), he still is always helping out his friends monetarily so they can have a drink, go to a movie, or go to the Mariners game. I will still say it, my brother is a complete idiot when it comes to money in many ways. However, he has a heart of gold and he would always refrain from blowing his money on junk if he could help out a friend first. And no, it did not take a $25,000 hand to make him this way. Don’t Blink.