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Finger Food

The saga of Jose Canseco's finger

Finger Food

It may be a surprise to many, but funny stuff doesn’t just come to me automatically when I sit down to write this monthly wisecracking look at the gaming industry. Last month, though, I got a really nice Christmas present, all wrapped up in a bow and placed under the tree.

It was Jose Canseco’s finger.

OK, I’m speaking metaphorically. (I do that sometimes. When it comes to metaphors, I am a mighty fortress repelling all enemies.) I didn’t unwrap a present to a ghastly site on Christmas morning. No, it was a few weeks before Christmas, when I was in my customary “what-in-the-name-of-sunny-Zeus-can-I-write-about” mode, that I came across the story about Jose’s finger.

In October, the former Major League All-Star outfielder, who ticked off a lot of his former comrades with his 2005 book Juiced exposing rampant steroid use in Major League Baseball, was cleaning his gun in the kitchen of his Las Vegas home, as you do, when it went off and severed the middle finger of his left hand—which is bad, because that was the hand he used to take his steroids.

Surgeons managed to reattach his finger, but he later said it never really reunited with its former digit brethren. In late November, he took to cyberspace with a story that he was playing in a poker tournament in a Las Vegas casino, and his finger fell off. Yes, he said the finger right in the middle of his hand dropped to the table, right in the middle of a hand.

Don’t you hate when that happens?

The world heard the story from Jose himself, through a series of Twitter tweets:

“I was playing in a poker tournament last night and my finger fell off. Someone took a video of it.”

And the follow-up tweet:

“My finger should have been amputated from the beginning. It was very loose with no bone to connect it. It was also smelling really bad.”


Later that night, he tweeted, “I put my finger in the freezer. Anyone want finger appetizers? Or is it finger snacks?”

Yikes again.

There immediately were questions about the veracity of Canseco’s poker tournament story, since his prior tweets weren’t exactly Associated Press material:

“Immortality is about 25 years away. Nanobots.”

“Galactic Beings have used comets as star taxis for eons.”

Actually, I thought everyone knew that.

In addition to Canseco’s history of bizarre tweeting, you’d think a public de-fingering in a Las Vegas casino would make the news, but there was nothing, outside of reports on Canseco’s tweets. And the rumored video of the poker tournament, including the finger flop, never surfaced.

He never even said the poker tournament was in a Las Vegas casino. For all we knew, it could have been in upstate New York. Yes, at Finger Lakes. (Sorry.)

As far as wisecracking journalists writing about the episode, Des Beiler of the Washington Post blog gets my Cheeky Writer Award:

“I hope he folded a lot in the tournament, because there was no way he was gonna get a good hand.”

As we went to press, a story appeared in TMZ in which Canseco admitted the whole thing was a hoax. Quite frankly, I’m shocked. But it was in TMZ, so it must be true.

Turning away from Jose’s finger before the former slugger slugs me—or gives me the finger (he was a switch-hitter, so he can still flip the bird)—we turn to Dolton, Illinois, where state officials have just nixed a plan to put a casino in the Dorchester Senior Center.

The state had actually approved a VLT license to Giovanni’s Catering for a lounge they were creating at the senior center—a liquor license had been secured, which entitles the holder to five VLTs—but withdrew it after the Better Government Association raised a stink.

I’m disappointed. I was actually starting to make plans to retire at the place. They were going to have a lounge and a bar, and video gaming terminals, and large-screen TVs beaming a 24-hour stream of Matlock episodes.

OK, I made up the bit about the TVs, but seriously, if I’m in a rest home anyway, why can’t I do a little gambling? It beats staring into space. And if they put video poker machines in there, the skill/strategy factor, combined with the physical dexterity required to operate the machines, will keep the players’ minds from turning to mush. I think it’s a great idea.

At least they’re not suggesting that the senior center residents play poker.

Someone could lose a finger that way.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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