Do It When It’s Right For You

I’m inclined to believe there’s no such thing as a “Bad time to gamble”. What I really mean by that is to say that slot machines/video poker machines aren’t going to hit the jackpot at 5 pm when it’s most likely to be busy, nor at 5 am when the casino is destined to be empty.

But what about when gambling is a good or bad time for you? There are a few times when I would suggest you consider keeping your wallet closed, these are a few of those times:

1. When you’re sleepy. This is a terrible time to gamble, for obvious reasons. If you’re tired then you’re less likely to be able to think straight. Your mind is going to be blurry, slow to react, and will result in poor decision making. If you need to call it a night, go back to your hotel room and get a good night’s rest. Trust me, that table game and slot/video poker machine will be there in the morning. Come back to it when you’re feeling refreshed and ready to take it on.

2. When you’re cranky. This is another problem for gamblers. We look at the casino and it’s games of chance as a relaxing, fun way to blow off some steam and enjoy ourselves. The problem, however, is if you’ve had a fight with your spouse, boss, child, etc. then you’re going to behave irrationally…and that ensures a financial loss. Don’t hesitate to sit and relax at the bar or sports book for a bit. Have a drink (one drink) and put your stress out of your mind. Don’t sit down at the slot/video poker machine and start pounding the buttons like they’re some sort of stress ball. Equally, don’t sit down at a blackjack table and start playing thinking you’re going to take your aggression out on cards, chips, dealer, luck…. Use the time to slowly milk that bottle of beer, glass of wine or tumbler of Bacardi & diet to chill out. Then, mosey on over to your game of choice and light the tables on fire (metaphorically speaking, of course! If you want to literally light them on fire, you’re not ready yet to start gambling).

3. When you’re intoxicated. Ok, this is one bit of advice I should heed myself. I’m not saying that I’ve never over-indulged only to throw good money after bad at the craps table, trust me, I have. But that’s exactly what the casinos want you to do. You’re more impulsive when you’ve got some liquid courage in you. And if you know the casinos know that (and in Vegas they ply you with it), why would you want to play straight into their hand (multiple puns intended)? I know what you’re thinking, “Tony, I plan on losing the money anyway. I know the games are structured with a distinct casino edge, so who cares?”. And I get that, I really do! But what it comes down to is do you want to lose that money over 1 hour or 4 hours? If “Sober You” could make that $200 last 4-5 hours but “Drunk You” will piss it away (again with the puns, Tony?) in a hour…what’s a better use of that money? I can’t hammer the table with my fist on this issue too much, I know how hard it is to follow this advice.

4. When you’re up/down. So you walk onto the gaming floor with $200 ready to ride Lady Luck into the ground! That’s great until you’ve lost $175 of it in 20 mins. Look, sometimes luck just isn’t on your side, so take what’s left of your dignity and call it a day. Use what you’ve got left to drown your sorrows at the casino bar or the buffet. Equally, you just walked up to the craps table when the shooter was on fire and won $300 during the shooters 20 minute roll? Get the hell out! If I’d have told you when you were walking in that you’d be up $300, you’d have been elated, right? So why not walk while the chips are still yours? You understand that’s why the casino has you gamble with clay chips and not actual cash, right? They know you lose emotional connection when playing with chip and not $20 bills! So, again, why play into the casinos trap? Take the money and run!

5. When you’re out of money. I’ve preached and preached (and this is one rule I do live by religiously) that you must limit your bankroll to a certain dollar amount per session. So you plan on gambling $500 over 3 hours? Great, stick to that time and that amount of money. If you lose your $500 in a hour, you’re done until the next gaming session (which might be after dinner, after that show, after [whatever event you create]). Likewise, once you hit that 3 hour marker, any money you have left, you’re done, get out. Put that money away for the rest of the trip, it’s money that the casino didn’t get out of you. You don’t add it to your upcoming session bankroll, you put it in your suitcase, hotel safe, sock and then you forget about it! There’s nothing more oddly rewarding than being able to take money home from the casino which you truly believed you were going to lose. Trust me on this, it’s a cool feeling!

6. When you’re hungry. I can’t tell you the number of times I had $5-$15 left in the video poker machine or 1/2/3 red chips ($5 value) and decided, “Well, I’ll go eat just as soon as I lose these”. What?!?!?! That’s such a stupid attitude to have! Why do I mentally prepare myself to lose those chips when I have zero obligation to do so? Especially knowing that the casino buffet run $10-$15 anyway. Gee, Tony, you could use those 1/2/3 red chips to off-set the buffet cost you know it’s going to cost. This point might be lost on some of you readers, but for me, I do this more times than I care to admit. You know, as a side note, that you can tip with casino chips. Therefore, you can use those chips to tip your server if the excuse is not wanting to wait in line to cash in said chips. I really need to follow my advice on this point.

Ok, so I’ve hit the major ones…what do you use as a “Don’t Gamble” threshold/requirement? I’d love for you to post your comments to see which ones I missed!

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About tony

Tony is a solo practice attorney in Mid-Michigan with an emphasis on Estate Planning, Criminal Defense and Business Law. He also enjoys Davidoff cigars, Las Vegas and Bacardi rum.