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The LITTLE Jackpot – Growing up Raja

Vegas, baby! With the amount of time I spend playing slots today, I must have been born there, right? Vegas must be in my blood! My parents must have been high rollers, partying in casinos and raking in the dough. Surely, I took up cards at a very young age, ran underground casinos through high school, and was chillin’ with bottle service by the time I was 21, right? Unfortunately, none of this is true. In fact, if you look at my first years, my early childhood, and even my young adulthood, you’ll realize that a slot player with a successful YouTube channel may have been the least likely path for me:

After all, I’m not from Vegas, at all. I was born on the other side of the country, in one of the least glitzy cities in America – Virginia Beach. It was still a fun childhood, from what I can remember! I had no siblings, but my parents tell me that I used to love swimming, and no, I was certainly not a risk taker like I am today. Even my parents didn’t have flashy jobs… My mom was a personal assistant and bookkeeper, while my father went through several phases of his work life: first he was a CPA, then he shifted gears to become a home builder, and finally, he settled on becoming a practicing attorney – what a life, right?

When I turned five, we picked up and moved to Colorado, where, interestingly, I’ve been ever since. (Thanks goodness we have great casinos out here!) I was a pretty typical kid. Loved playing soccer and baseball, but most of all, hockey! I still love it to this very day. I also enjoyed TV and movies, so I hope I’m not dating myself when I tell you my favorites were Diff’rent Strokes, Star Wars, and old James Bond pictures too.

That quickly evolved into a love of the original Beverly Hills, 90210 and Dumb and Dumber by the time I entered high school. Mine was called ‘Cherry Creek High School,’ and that’s where I roamed the halls with 3,800 other students. No, I didn’t develop that underground casino you were hoping for, like Giovanni Ribisi in Boiler Room. But I did get my first taste of entrepreneurship during these years. Besides gym class, typing and restaurant arts were really the only subjects I was into, and I guess those ones served me well: At 15, I actually started my own vending machine company, which I called (please don’t laugh) ‘Video Invaders.’ One of the best memories of that era is that I was able to hire my first employee for that company before I even graduated! It was a struggle though. At the same time I was trying to run my own small company, I was also working 40 – 60 hours a week at Taco Bell, so the life of a young entrepreneur isn’t always as glamorous as it might sound.

When did I start gambling, then? How did I even get into it at all? Funny answer: I didn’t play a single slot machine until I was 17, during my very first visits to Las Vegas and Atlantic City. I continued to play slots more and more as I got older, but never did I ever imagine that slots would lead me to what I do today on YouTube. It’s crazy to think about, really. Zero interest in gambling or slots from birth to 17 years old, and then BOOM – the first time, I’m hooked, lol!

But I always play smart, and encourage you to do the same. If you’d like to hear about any of this stuff in greater detail, you can watch Part 1, Part 2, and the recent Part 3 of my ‘Get to Know the Raja’ YouTube video series. Still, with everything I’ve experienced so far, the one lesson I still keep close to heart is this: Never gamble with all the money you have, and always save for a rainy day. Slots are fun! But they’re not worth losing everything for. So until next time, play safe everyone! And remember, you never know when and where your life’s passion might find you, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

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