Last week Friday I finally got to go to a Vegas Night fun gaming event to experience one of their fabulous evenings first hand! I had the pleasure of being invited to a very snazzy, black tie, James Bond themed Charity fundraiser at Val de Vie Wine Estate held by the Val de Vie Filly’s and for which Vegas Nights was providing all the fun gaming equipment and staff. It was fabulous!

I wiggled into one of my nicest and most tasteful black numbers and hit the road for Paarl and a night of guilt-free, cost-free fun gaming!

As I arrived at the beautiful and extensive Val de Vie Wine Estate I was made to feel instantly glamorous by the photographer waiting to snap my entrance and then even more so as glasses of champagne, bottles of Sarita and sparkly bracelets were issued as I checked in on the Val de Vie Filly’s guest list. Along with my glittery trinkets and libations I received a voucher for 500 units worth of Vegas Nights funny money and a lucky draw ticket.

Voucher in hand I strode into the actual charity fundraiser venue, and was bowled over by how the event space had been gorgeously transformed from blank canvas into ultra chic James Bond themed fun gaming floor. With a big screen projector spilling silent James Bond films onto the front wall I was greeted by blackjack tables, roulette wheels, serious men already seated at the poker tables and women in beautiful dresses flinging die across the craps table with reckless abandon.

Ladies in little black numbers wandered the room distributing free whiskey from waitrons trays while suited waiters offered guests mouthful sized bowls of hearty soups. The back wall sported a Gordon’s Gin Bar selling James Bond Martinis and other assorted cocktails for next to nothing and bottles of water for even less. In the opposite corner, Black bottle whiskey was offering their whisky for free, and an assortment of shooters that I dared not inquire about since I was the designated driver to myself for the night!

I was warmly met by the Vegas Nights Floor managers who ushered me in and showed my little inexperienced self what each of the tables was and where to go. Every table was manned by at least one friendly croupier or dealer more than willing to explain the rules to a girl looking somewhat like a deer in the headlights and clutching at her voucher like it was the last R10 she owned. After about half an hour of watching wide eyed from the safety of a couch I sidled over to the roulette table and asked a very charming dealer by the name of Bismark how this whole roulette thing worked. He gently peeled the voucher from my fist and handed me a large pile of chips, explained the basics and helped me make my first few bets.

I caught on fairly quickly, and was rather pleased with myself when half an hour later I’d tripled my initial amount of funny money. This was, in no small part due to Bismarks patience with me, and his amusement at the very low risk betting strategy I swiftly adopted did not mar my sense of triumph! I now felt brave enough to venture over to the Vegas Nights Craps table.

Again, I watched quietly for a little while and then decided to give it a try. And again, the Vegas Nights dealers were incredibly kind, taking the time to explain and help me place bets while still managing to keep track of the fast paced action on the table, calculating payouts, taking in lost bets etc… I take my hat off to those ladies and gents, I could barely work out when the dice had been thrown and they were already rearranging the table!

By this point in the evening the bowls of soup had given way to beef stew and thai chicken curry, the pianist who had originally been playing in the one corner had given way to a lady singing a collection of covers on a stage front and centre, and my luck at the Craps table was waning… so I tucked tail clutching my last few chips and went back to my friend Bismark to bolster my funny money coffers once again at the roulette table.

And so the night went. I developed a system of winning chips at roulette, trying out a different game with my winnings, doing well for a while and then losing just enough to urge me to run back to Bismark and my Roulette table for safety and financial recuperation. Over the course of the evening the Vegas Nights fun gaming event team taught me to play Craps, which I eventually got the hang of. I even got to throw the die for a while and managed to win a number men a lot of funny money. I learned to play Blackjack! Floor manager Saleem patiently explained all the rules and then set me up with a lovely Peruvian croupier whose name I cannot for the life of me remember, and who, again patiently, played hands with me and helped me decide whether to take another card or stick and what a push was.

I discovered that Blackjack is not nearly as hard as I thought, although I can absolutely see how people could get themselves into trouble at the Blackjack table because, you lose money fast in that game! (by this stage of the night I had a pretty decent stash of chips and I had started to become a little more cavalier with my betting tactics).

The Val de Vie Filly’s had arranged Macaroons and Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert so I took a time out from my new found love of Blackjack to indulge. By the end of the night I had successfully won and lost 1000’s in funny money, and still had a couple 1000’s worth of chips left over when the playing was finally ended. All, I suspect, thanks to the patience of the various dealers and croupiers I dealt with throughout the night.

Vegas Nights, the Val de Vie Filly’s and the Val de Vie Wine Estate pulled out all the stops for this stunning charity fundraiser with a really stunning selection of spot prizes which were issued through the night. There were bottles of champagne, glass collections, whiskey gifts and even weekend getaways given out at random to those with lucky draw tickets, but sadly, my number was never called. A prize was given to the person who had the most chips leftover at the end of the night. This was not me either. This honour went to a man who managed to accumulate over 38000 worth of chips playing Poker. I was glad not to have ventured near the Poker tables after hearing that!

But still I learned a lot! I learned to play Roulette, Craps and Blackjack, and I discovered that my rare combination of competitiveness and risk aversion makes for a pretty practical betting strategy. I ended the night with considerably more funny money than I started with, and as I understand it, so did the Val de Vie Fillies, who were so satisfied with their James Bond themed evening that they have booked Vegas Nights again for next years fundraiser!