#10 Illegal Video Poker Machines

The local corner bar represents the foundation of Yinzer culture, a sacred place where fathers spend quality time with their children, wives meet their eventual husband(s), and bartenders are asked to serve as Godparents. It is a common belief that Yinzers just like to sit on a bar stool, talk about the Steelers, drink Iron City, and do shots of Jim Beam to a soundtrack of 70′s southern rock. While these behaviors are certainly tenants of their culture, even the most staunch Yinzer can get bored with doing the exact same thing every night since Carter was elected president. For Yinzers, wasting money on useless endeavors comes naturally, which means that they will eventually try to win a few more rounds of beer through the video poker machines.

Illegal video poker machines are everywhere in Yinzer nation. While the actual machine is supposedly for “entertainment purposes only,” there is a common understanding that the bar will pay out the winnings.  Whether it is a backroom parlor at a newsstand in Braddock, a little tavern in Dravosburg, or an Elks Club in Westmoreland County, you’ll find Yinzers with a beer, puffing a pack of cigarettes away, hoping to nail the jackpot that has eluded them for twenty years. Most popular are the 80s-era machines, complete with a neon-colored bikini-clad woman rendered using video graphics slightly more sophisticated than those featured in the original Pong game.

There are certain rules by which to play if ever at a Yinzer bar. It is not recommended to ever play video poker as an outsider, but in the event that one might want to throw in a couple of $1 bills, the following must be observed:

  1. Never ever play someone else’s machine. While ownership is not entirely clear to non-Yinzers, established players have already marked their territory. Particularly drunk Yinzers might actually pee on the machine, though this is both frowned upon and a considerable electrocution risk.
  2. Never, ever win more than $10; Yinzers hate nothing more than some foreigner coming into their bar and taking the money that is rightfully theirs. In the event that the $100 jackpot is hit, be sure to exhaust it on beer and shots for the regular patrons in the establishment, as this is most likely the only way to leave the place in one piece.
  3. Don’t make any noises that correspond to the fortunes of the game. Yinzers believe that video poker takes a tremendous amount of focus and luck. While focus and luck have absolutely no bearing on the outcome, Yinzer superstition will always override rational thought.
  4. Like a caddy in golf, always blame the lack of success on something else. Suggestions include: the temperature; time of year; lack of focus; significant others; missing lucky charms; or some other factor. The stacked odds in favor of the house is not an acceptable excuse, however.

Yinzers will always love gambling. It is best to get out of their way and let them play. Good fortune may prevail, and being in the presence of a victorious Yinzer guarantees at least one round of Iron City to every patron in the building. Unless instructed to give a toast, down the beer knowing that the short-term pain of drinking Pittsburgh’s semi-famous brew is far preferred to inciting a riot for being the outsider who won it all and ruined it for everyone else.