I came away a loser — again — in last week’s Mega Millions jackpot drawing, so I’ll have to build my wealth the old-fashioned way: Through Chuck-O-Luck.
Granted, mastering this staple of church festivals is unlikely to yield millions in winnings, but I could amass a king’s ransom in shampoo, jigsaw puzzles and flashlights.
And, unlike the heartless lottery, Chuck-O-Luck offers a consolation prize to losers, often in the form of a Tootsie Roll, to soothe us.
It’s a simple game: You shake out dice and pick your “lucky number.” Each time you roll those dice, you count how many times “your” number pops up. Every time, say, the dice show a “five,” you get a point. You win a prize (or not) depending on how many times that number comes up.
Yes, it’s a gateway drug for gambling, but it’s also low stakes, extremely entertaining and can, in a pinch, double as a counting lesson for early learners.
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I first encountered Chuck-O-Luck as a young child, playing for what seemed like hours with my grandmother, a grand wizard of the Chuck-O-Luck circuit.
We happily made the rounds of the local church festivals to play the greatest game ever invented. The fact that we were also helping local parishes, in my grandma’s eyes, made gambling with an 8-year-old practically a holy sacrament.
‘Top shelf’ rewards
There are three levels of prizes, depending on your score, and you strive to be a Top Shelf winner.
That’s where they keep the good stuff, like stuffed animals or a pasta strainer still in the original packaging.
Winning at all is a plus, of course, but Bottom Shelf prizes tend toward the mundane: Air fresheners and packages of Kleenex. Walking around with that loot instead of a flashy Top Shelf cobalt blue desk lamp — with an extra bulb! — marks you as a Chuck-O-Luck also-ran on the festival grounds.
Still, even a Bottom Shelf winner understands the thrill of besting those Chuck-O-Luck dice.
It’s a good thing this is my only gambling addiction (one shared with my younger sister, Pat) because it’s a low-cost game. For $10, I can hold a Chuck-O-Luck chair for half an hour. That’s a lot of chances to feel like a winner and to grab that can of Pledge I see on the Middle Shelf.
Chuck-O-Luck is once again available at a church festival near you — St. Peter’s Catholic Church (starting today) and Holy Rosary (starting Aug. 14).
I do have a suggestion for organizers of the revived Kenosha casino project.
While the traditional table games are fine — poker, black jack and whatever craps is — I’d love to see a Chuck-O-Luck table or two included in the plans. Just think of the fun prizes we’d find on the Hard Rock Top Shelf!
Until then, let’s roll those dice.
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