There’s a certain excitement about your first time playing the slots. Until you play, you don’t know what to expect, and the unexpected can bring memorable experiences.

A number of players have share their first-time tales with us. Some of these stories were collected in person through direct conversation, while others were shared via email. In all cases, players were promised anonymity as a conditions of publication, with no surnames permitted.

Paula: You’ve heard of beginner’s luck? I had it for sure my first time.

I was with a couple of girlfriends. They’d played before, and they were going to show me the penny slots. We figure $20 or maybe $40 at the most, and we’d have lunch out, too.

I took a machine next to my friends. I don’t even remember what the game was called, but it had all these fish and lobsters and sea creatures.

I put in my first $20 and hit the button just as my friend looked, and she said, ”Oh! You didn’t want to hit that one!” I’d pushed the button to bet $4 instead of 40 cents!

Here’s the beginner’s luck part: I got 15 free spins! My $4 wasn’t wasted at all. Instead, I won more than 3,400 credits on the free spins – more than $34!

After that, I learned to bet one penny per line, and for the rest of the day I had some nice bonuses, but won some and lost some more.

It worked out, though. I came home with all of my original $40 and even though I lost back a lot of the $34, I still had $10 of it for my lunch.

I didn’t win big, but I still felt pretty lucky.

Margie: My first time was online, but it wasn’t for money. My sister-in-law plays on these apps, and she asked if I wanted to try.

So I played on her phone at a family birthday party. She had lot of credits and unlocked lots of games, so I got to try different things. I won pretty good at Cleopatra. That’s what convinced me to try playing for money when I heard it was at a real online casino.

It’s been about two years, and I play pretty often now. Sometimes it’s for money and sometimes it’s the apps. I like that new game Panda Manga. I’ve won pretty good on that.

Phil: I’m pretty old school. My first time on the slots, there weren’t any video slots. My wife and I played three-reel games mixed in with video poker.

It was on the Las Vegas Strip and we went casino hopping. We must have played in 10 different casinos, a half hour or so here and there. I was on a three-reel game, bet 75 cents and won 150 quarters. She did even better just a couple of minutes later. She had a straight flush on video poker for 250 quarters.

Up and down the Strip we went, and at the end had $60 more than we started with. At that moment, I knew we’d be coming back.

But you know what? We save the best for last. The night we were going home, we had an 11 p.m. flight. Around 8, we played our loose change in quarter slots, and when we ran out, my wife went to the bathroom with the idea we’d just go to the airport early.

I had three dimes in my pocket and there was a dime machine. Those were rare, but I put my three dimes in and won 100. When my wife got back, I opened my hand and showed her. We cashed the in for quarters and went to some machines called Quartermania, and had a couple of wins right away.

By the time we really did have to leave, we had another $80. That was fun!

Greta: Let me tell you about my first time. It was no big winner. In fact, after the first time I wasn’t sure I was ever going again.”

My friend Cheryl and I decided to explore and try a few different games. I don’t remember all the titles. I was overwhelmed and that trip is pretty much a blur.

I brought $60 to play with and lost $40 of it. I told Cheryl and my husband I was glad I had the experience, there were some fun parts, but I had better uses for $40.

It was about a year later before I even considered going again. I still didn’t win money, but I got more bonuses and had more fun. I was up for a while, and wound up losing only $5 and had a nice lunch.

Now I play probably six times a year. I had an $1,100 progressive jackpot once – that was exciting. But if the second trip had been like the first, I might never have played again.

Nancy: Our first trip was up to Canada. My husband had his only other experience in Vietnam playing some shady slots off base.

We drove and took $150 apiece and it was like pure gold: Everything we played, we hit. We hit two jackpots that evening, one for $1,000 and another for $1,800. We were ecstatic. After playing all night long we came home with a whopping $3,200!

My husband said this was "easy money" and we were going to go again and again. Well, it was a hard learned lesson in gambling. There is no such thing as "easy money," we just had the luck of one lucky whim.

Many, many years later, we are now so savvy in playing error-free video poker and knowing how to look for the best comps, we give advice to friends.