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Isn't it hard to watch that annoying family at the amusement park walking around all happy and elated like they just won the lottery. You know the family I am talking about? I hate that family.

They are carrying their prizes around on their shoulders or in a baby carriage because the Spongebob they won is larger than a life-size Incredible Hulk! The cute little happy children are laughing and giggling, and it seems like they know something about the universe that they are keeping secret from the rest us.

As they skip past you, you cannot help but find yourself holding back the urge to thrust your plastic spork from your warm melted ice cream into their temples. Well, I am proud to say that I am finally over that struggle. Mostly, because my family was THAT FAMILY! And it changed everything for me!



I took my two kids, Walt (8 years old) and Savannah (11 years old) to Frankie's Fun Park in Irmo, South Carolina. It was a magical day of go-karts, laser-tag and rock-climbing.


But the coolest part was we were finally THE OTHER family! The Simpson Unit was finally that annoying family that has so many tickets that they could use them as cover in a hail storm!

It happened after we had already had an unbelievably awesome day zooming around in go-karts and scaling huge rock walls to the applause of others watching. Okay, the others watching consisted of me and Savannah clapping for Walt, but applause is applause! (It would still keep Tinkerbell alive!)

As we were leaving, Savannah and Walt begged me to play some of the money-sucking trap games and for some strange reason, I agreed to let them play. I did so out of an obligation to teach them at a young age that all these games are sick twisted pranks that computer hackers play on small children as payback for all the hard times they were given growing up as nerds. My kids weren't willing to worry about all that. They just wanted to push their money into slots and spin stuff.

I went into my speech about how we were only going to spend 20 dollars total on these games, and I would rather go to the store and buy them 20 dollars worth of toys. However, they insisted that they could win and that would make it worth it.

I smugly got 20 dollars worth of plays put on our little miniature card and swiped the first 3 dollar game on Wheel of Fortune. We got the first word correctly on two spins and were awarded 12 tickets! Enough to buy one piece of bubble gum! I looked at Savannah and said, "17 dollars left, you can still go to the store with $8.50 each."

She was not going to be swayed.

When I put in the next 3 dollars for Wheel of Fortune, Walt said, "Put 2 more in and you get double tickets!"

I responded, "Walt, that is just how they rig it against you to sucker you into paying more money."

He said, "Dad, what if we spin the highest amount, you will have wished you doubled it up."

This was impenetrable logic, so I obliged.

We were already down three dollars, and now we were playing a second time for five dollars. This time we got double score on the tickets for the additional two dollars. As Savannah spun the wheel, I looked to my left and ignored the spin and said to her, "Wouldn't it just be amazing if you got the 200 slot (the highest slot)?"

She said, "I know that would be awesome."

All the while, the spin had come to a stop and it was flashing and buzzing because that is exactly what happened! Walt was trying to get our attention but Savannah and I were just staring at the wheel sliver that was on the arrow as the 200 blinked! Seriously, this sliver was tiny! (See video.)


Then we had to guess a letter correctly!

"S!," Savannah and Walt both shouted.

I plugged in the S. Booyah! 2-S's, times the double score meant 800 tickets! Walt spun and it landed on a similar sliver which was for 20 tickets. I thought we had hit the 200 jackpot twice in row, but it as just another small sliver that looked the same and was worth 20. Then Walt guessed, "R" and there were 2-R's so that was 20 doubled twice for 80 more tickets!

20 seconds later we were typing in "Marinated Mushrooms" and tickets were pouring out of that machine for literally 5 minutes. The ticket dispenser ran dry and a service tech had to come over and give us more tickets by hand. It was truly awe inspiring!

We played Deal or No Deal and Savannah actually picked the box with the highest total in it (400 tickets) but we took the deal with 2 boxes left for 254 tickets, because the other box was the 20 ticket box. I tried explaining how the deal was a great deal, but they were frustrated with me for not sticking with our original pick! The video animated host does a really good job mocking you for taking the deal when your box was the highest total box. I wanted to punch the machine myself!

I kept going on and on about the math involved but they were having none of that logical discussion! So we played Deal or No Deal again, and this time we went all the way to the end sticking with our original box. The deal was made to us with 2 boxes left. The 400 ticket box (the highest possible) and the 5 ticket box. The deal was for 149 tickets. I was screaming, "TAKE THE DEAL!" but Savannah crushed the big read NO DEAL button before I could do anything. By this time, you can guess, right? Right. 400 more tickets to the Simpsons!


And another five minutes standing at a machine as family after family rolled their eyes as they watched my kids doing their happy dances... with their father. (Don't judge me until you have felt the sweet thrill of victory at one of these establishments!)

So I guess I will wait until another day to teach my kids a lesson about how these games are all traps to steal your money. I will wait to teach them about statistical math and odds and those types of things until after the joy of this victory has warn off.

On the ride home Walt (my 8 year old) asked me, "Dad, if we bought 2 webkinz and all this candy and these toys and stuff how much would that cost?"

I said, "About 55 dollars."

And he said, "And we only spent 20 dollars on the games, right?"

"Right," I hesitantly replied.

Then, my 8-year old calmly, and matter-of-factly said, "So you owe us 35 bucks then, right?"

My son may not grow up understanding the odds of the table games, but at least he understands how to be a bookie!



From coach to comedian: Marty Simpson is a former USA Today high school All-American and collegiate Academic All-Conference player for USC who scored the Gamecocks' first 6 points in the SEC. During 8 years as a high school varsity coach, Simpson led his team to the state finals and saw one player advance to set an NFL rookie record. Simpson now divides his time between his family, running a multimedia company named Blue-Eyed Panda and getting the same pre-game jitters by performing stand-up comedy nationwide.

Check out Marty's performance dates here.


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