Playing the Joker at Walkabout game is one of the most popular events in the Phnom Penh girly bar scene each Friday night. Bar girls and foreigners flock to this popular watering hole to try their luck and find the joker win the jackpot. How much is there to be won? Well, that all depends on how many rounds have gone by without a winner, but the prize money has been well over $15,000 in the past, and last week’s winner glad he played Joker at Walkabout because he took home about $13,000. This article will cover two interesting points: how does a dodgy little bar in Phnom Penh manage to pull together this kind of prize money, and, more importantly, what one needs to do to win it.
It is every Cambodian bar girl’s dream to take home the prize, so let’s imagine two girls are heading over there to play.
SREI NA: I’ve got six bucks for joker tickets tonight.
SUK LIEP: I’ve been saving up all week and I have twenty bucks! Let’s go!
The girls hop on a moto and zip over to Street 51 to buy their tickets at Walkabout, a bar for freelance girls, where they promply purchase twenty six tickets for a dollar each.
SREI NA: This place is packed today. Did you get a drink with any of your tickets?
SUK LIEP: Good idea!
Suk Liep hands over three of her tickets at the bar and the barman takes a pen and scribbles on each of them, gives them back, then pours her a cold glass of beer. If you purchase three tickets, you get a drink. The girls turn their attention to a class case mounted on the wall with cards pinned up inside it.
SUK LIEP: Which card do you think is the Joker?
SREI NA: The one in the top left. That is the one I will pick if they draw my ticket.
The bar draws one ticket and the winner chooses one card inside the glass case to turn over. There are 52 cards pinned up, facing down in the case, so finding the Joker is very unlikely, even though most of the cards have been turned over in previous weeks’ games.
SREI NA: Look at this week’s jackpot! It is $12,137! The game has been going for weeks now and the prize is $900 more than last week.
SUK LIEP: How many motos are left to win?
SREI NA: Only one. I would be happy to win a moto too though.
SUK LIEP: They do have some nice consolation prizes here! I love to play Joker at Walkabout.
The Joker is not the only card worth turning over. Turning over an ace wins you a new moto. A king wins you a new flat screen tv. A queen wins $200 worth of free beer for everyone at the bar, which, surprisingly, can take an hour or so to distribute as there is lots to go around.
SREI NA: Oh my, they are picking the winning ticket now! Get your tickets!
BARMAN ON LOUR SPEAKER: The winning number is 0142457
SUK LIEP: Oh my Buddha, that’s my ticket!
Suk Liep makes her way to the bar to show her ticket and is ushered toward the glass case, the holy grail of Walkabout’s Joker game that only a privileged few have been inside of to select their card. The manager unlocks it with his sacred key and Suk Liep stares intently at the card on the top left that her friend Srei Na was confident would be the Joker. The crowd has at least two hundred people, all craning their necks to see the card. Suk Liep points to the card in the top left and the manager unpins it and flips it around, high above his head for all to see.
SUK LIEP: Oh no, it’s a nine!
SREI NA: That’s not good…
The crowd cheers as the manager pins the card back on the board, face up this time, and locks up the case. The crowd is happy because they know that next week, there is one less card to choose from, and the jackpot will be a few hundred dollars higher with the proceeds from the ticket sales going into next week’s prize money.
SUK LIEP: The card on the top left, huh? That’s the last time I take your advice Srei Na, you silly girl!
SREI NA: I was sure that card was the Joker.
SUK LIEP: That was a waste of twenty dollars. I hate to lose. C’mon, let’s get some more drinks and go to Sharky Bar. At least they have their pool tables professionally leveled.
The girls proceed to booze it up and bar hop, disappearing out the door and into the night with dreams of winning next week’s jackpot.
Walkabout is a 24 hour bar for freelance Cambodian bar girls. Three pool tables, darts, booze, and lots of company usually have the place pretty full, but the Joker is definitely the biggest crowd of the week. Cambodian Girls has no affiliation with Walkabout, the Joker is just a nice way to pass an hour or so on a Friday night and therefore worth writing about. Please feel free to comment by clicking here if anything about the game is unclear. Cambodian Girls will accept any nominations for a Pulitzer for best Cambodian based script for our work on the Joker at Walkabout script.
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