Casino player Riffe hits it big
County resident Riffe
says she can use the money
BEDFORD, Ky. (June 2003) Linda Riffe of Bedford,
Ky., wasnt feeling very lucky. She lost money on an early spring
trip to Tunica, Miss., and was losing at Blackjack when she went to
Belterra Casino on the evening of April 11. Riffe was ready to call
it quits for the night, but since her husband was still playing, she
decided to kill some time at a Pai Gow Poker table.
Although conscious of the $200,000-plus jackpot displayed electronically
at the table, Riffe had no hope of taking any of it home. Id
just said to the dealer You see that jackpot. I have no aspirations
of winning that, she recalled.
Riffe, 44, had no idea that in a matter of minutes her luck would change.
It was after 11 p.m., and Riffe had been playing for less than half
of an hour when she drew first a pair of sevens and then a royal flush.
Because she was tired, it took a few seconds for reality to set in,
but soon she was telling the dealer Ive got it! In
Riffes hands was a combination of cards that represented $201,900
worth of winnings.
According to Belterra management, the progressive jackpot
at the table had been building for nearly a year when Riffe hit her
winning hands. Pai Gow Poker, played with 52 cards and one joker, combines
the elements of the ancient Chinese game of Pai Gow with American poker.
The joker can be used only as an ace, or to complete a straight, a flush,
or a straight flush. Each player is dealt seven cards, which he arranges
into two hands, a two-card hand and a five-card hand. Hand rankings
are based on basic poker rankings. The highest two-card hand would be
two aces and the highest five-card hand would be a royal flush.
After Riffes win was verified, she graciously gave the three other
players at the table $1,000 each. Riffe said that casino management
was courteous about everything.
Riffe enjoys riverboat gambling from time to time but said the most
she had ever won before was $2,000 playing craps at Belterra. But
that was just dumb luck, she said. Call it luck or call it chance,
Riffe definitely beat the odds that evening. Casino officials said that
the odds against Riffe drawing the winning combination of cards were
estimated at 700,000 to 1.
I think bad luck and good luck kind of goes in spurts, said
Riffe, who works as a senior business analyst for AdminaStar in Louisville.
She and her husband, Mike, lost their home to a flood in 1982. Riffe
used a portion of her winnings to replace money taken from her husbands
retirement account when the couple had to replace their home that year.
She also used some of the money to put a down payment on a house for
her daughter and son-in-law, who along with their four children had
been living with the Riffes for nearly two years since losing
their home to a violent storm.
As for herself, Riffe only bought one item: a topaz ring to match the
necklace she received from her husband for her birthday. The rest of
her winnings, after more than 40 percent was taken for local gaming,
state and federal taxes, went to pay off a few bills and into CDs, she
Riffe bought cards at Belterras gift shop (she wasnt allowed
to keep her actual winning hand) and had a reproduction of her winning
hand mounted and framed as a memento. She said she plans to continue
to play at Belterra, which may be her lucky place. Just one week after
winning the grand prize, Riffe drew nearly the same hand at the same
Pai Gow poker table, winning $1,000.
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