Friday, August 12, 2011


I took a trip to some midwestern casinos a few weekends ago.  If you haven't been to a casino or river boat, I recommend it; at the very least, for the experience.  I do have some guidelines/pieces of information to think about before you go:

*Be prepared for the smoke

One of my sisters mentioned this to me; she had gone to the same casino a few weekends before.  I'm not used to smoky venues, not ones where I remain for any amount of time (I take that as a clear sign of age!).

As an aside, some of the people at my office were discussing smoking at their desks forty years ago.  I cannot imagine.

When I waited tables, smoking didn't bother me as much. 

So it was smoky.  People smoked at the tables next to me.  I had to shower after each trip and wash my hair, just to get the smell of smoke out.

*Be prepared to see a wide variety of people

There is a lot of discussion about taboos for American moms while pregnant.  One of the most severe (to my mind) is the taboo against smoking while pregnant.  But yet I saw a mom at one casino who was clearly pregnant, and also smoking.  I don't agree with the judgment thrown towards moms, and the random people who stop moms to tell them how they're raising their kids wrong.  But it was fascinating to me, here is a place where no one seems to bat an eyelash. 

Also saw some older people on oxygen.  Again, trying not to play someone's doctor here, but being in such a smoky location cannot be good for people on oxygen.

And yet, who am I to judge? When I'm in my late eighties, perhaps on oxygen, maybe all I'll want to do is ride a bus with my friends to the casino and sit with the slot machines.

I do appreciate people-watching, so there is that factor in the casino trip.

*Decide how much you want to spend beforehand

A friend of mine had given me this advice, and I agree it's sound advice.  It is simply way too easy to lose a lot of money very quickly.  She also said to never play with money you can't lose. I've heard that adage before, and I think it rings true.

For me, I don't know if I'll go back, or if I do return, how often.  I know too much of the mathematics, the probability of the slot machines.  I do understand texas hold'em; but I think I would need to risk a lot of money in order to come out ahead.  I enjoy playing with groups of friends, I think I'll stick with that for the time being.  .

I also watched some of the documentaries of the MIT students who went to Vegas and won at blackjack.  I think that's the hook that pulls people in - that they can somehow beat the odds through luck or through intelligence. The casinos make a lot of money on that hook.

*Take breaks

So one can lose a lot of money quickly.  Everything in the casino is set up to stay and spend money. Free soda, waitresses who bring you drinks, the opportunity for a free buffet.  Particularly at the tables, the dealers go quickly (that's the nature of the business, right?)  They don't want you to think about how much money you have, how much you've won or lost.

So I believe the more time and space you can give yourself, the better off you will be.  The more you fight the natural urge to continue to bet, to try to end up ahead, the better off you will be. If not financially, emotionally.

With all of those thoughts, I still recommend it.  But I can certainly understand why a person would choose to miss casino trips in general.

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