June 2007
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T-47: a fistfull of dullards?

Hooray for starting a premature collection of dollars.  Or "dullards", as Matt keeps telling me they’re called, even though he can’t tell me why…

The best exchange rate in town was at the Cheque Centre, which has recently taken over a butcher’s shop in Longton.  The shop is so new you can still smell the carpet glue.  They offered $1.92 to the £1 and 0% commission – two or three cents better than everywhere else.

In fact the rate on my Citibank dual currency account was only $1.94.  Not much in it if you change up the cash before you leave, when you have to pay ATM fees over there.

"How would you like the money", he asked.  "Large bills are fine", I replied.  I remembered where I was and readjusted to British English.  "Hundreds, if you’ve got them".

"We’ve got fifties", he offered with a smile.  Oh dear.  Our faces dropped in unison.

I tried to explain.  "Well, we’re going to Vegas and fifties are unlucky.  But twenties would be like this big..".  I held my hands a good few inches apart, apparently indicating the five figure bankroll that one day I actually hope to have, and not the few hundred we’d gone to change up.

From his reaction I’m sure he hadn’t heard this nonsense before, and I’m glad.  Because I have no idea where it came from, and just wouldn’t know how I’d explain it if pressed.  We talked about this afterwards.  Claire says it’s something I told her, but I’m sure it’s something I picked up from her.  I’ve searched online to try to find some far fetched urban legend or just some unwritten rule, but nothing turned up.  Google does index unwriten rules, right?

The best I’ve managed to find is an old Question of the Day from Las Vegas Advisor, which I can’t even link properly to because it’s a subscription-only page, so I’ve had to reproduce some parts of it here and hope that Anthony Curtis doesn’t mind.  Actually, if I find out that a Vegas legend reads my blog I wont really care about the consequences!  If you’re a subscriber, you can see the full thing here

"The Las Vegas Hilton told us that they hold some $50s, but that many casinos don’t order them, because they’re considered unlucky. (They also said that casinos tended to avoid dealing with them in the past because of their resemblance to $100s and the risk of error, although we’d have thought that this would apply more to $10s.)

The Plaza acknowledged that a bit of superstition surrounds the $50, with some people considering them lucky and others the reverse, but they didn’t know the reason behind either belief.

Stratosphere claimed its Asian customers like getting $50s, while the Imperial Palace stated that its big players do not like them.

The Golden Gate said they don’t hold $50 bills, i.e., if they receive them they’re not given out, only banked. But they didn’t know why.

Bally’s, Binion’s, and Caesars had all heard of the unlucky connotations, but they all keep and give out $50s."

So essentially, nobody really knows.  Still, better not take any chances eh?