Some go to Las Vegas. Some go to Atlantic City. But the truly seasoned players know the only place to gamble is the IHS cafeteria.
On the night of April 27th, the cafeteria looked less like a ketchup-stained petri dish of chipping plywood tables and kiddie plastic chairs, and more like the gold-plated, crystal-lighted ballroom of the MGM Grand. Seniors entered through a decorative arch clad in black dresses, sharp suits, and bright Hawaiian shirts; countless parent volunteers welcomed us wearing thin, red-and-white–striped plastic aprons like real casino dealers. The money may have been fake, but the scene looked quite authentic.
It wasn’t hard to get into the thrilling rhythm of big risks and big wins (big losses too, sometimes, but we gamblers don’t like to talk about those). In fact, the process was quite simple. Upon entry, each attendee received an envelope of a set amount of play money, and spent the night playing games and trying to win even more money. This money could then be used to purchase raffle tickets, which were placed in the bowls of desired prizes.
The activities ranged from quiet card games like poker and Texas hold’em to the more fast-paced games, like blackjack and Craps, that would result in occasional bursts of jovial cheers from everyone around the table. For those moments when the ruthlessness of bad odds put you in the dumps, there was a dazzling array of chocolate-covered strawberries, mozzarella sticks, fruit salad, and even some delicious homemade vegan treats to return your spirits to the right levels of enthusiasm and unfounded confidence.
Finally, the gambling wound down and everyone gathered quietly around tables to lay out their raffle tickets with hope that their names got called. Mr. Mellander took on the role of announcing each prize and its winner with his usual wit. Oddly, most everyone who won a prize won more than one, making the majority of us quite frustrated losers.
Some of the biggest prizes of the night included a mini fridge, which went to David van WIjk ’17; tickets to the Cayuga Sound Festival, won by Elena Fine ’17; and $50 to circus culture, snatched happily by Giovan Velazquez ’17. At the very end, Khiry Brown ’17 went home with the most coveted item of the night: two free weekend passes to Grassroots.
Even those who didn’t leave with a prize got to spend several hours playing games and hanging out with friends, which isn’t much more than what you can ask for from a school-sponsored event. Plus, we left the IHS cafeteria a little richer in material belongings and a lot richer in gambling skills. Of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Mr. Mellander and all of the parent and teacher volunteers, to whom we are all very grateful.