Gamble, just not often

Dec 23, 2008 5:05 PM
Winning Strategies by Elliot Frome |

Next week’s column is the easy one. To start the new year off, I usually write about a resolution to kick the slot habit and turn to video poker.

For this week, I’d like to talk about a more important resolution. I’ll call it my holiday resolution. As I’ve written in my columns many times, I don’t really get to go to the casinos all that often.

Living in New Jersey, it is about a two-hour drive to Atlantic City or to the Indian casinos in Connecticut. Life is too busy to find the time to go very often. I have a teenager who is working on his driver’s license, and a toddler who is working on his tricycle license.

Contrary to what even many of my friends and acquaintances may think, I’m not a professional gambler. I’m a gaming analyst and author, who on occasion gets the opportunity to take my own advice in the casinos.

This is in essence the crux of the holiday resolution I’m hoping that you will all adopt. Going to the casinos and gambling is a form of entertainment (or should be) for the vast majority of the people reading this.

There are some people who are professional gamblers, whether at video poker or in the poker rooms. These people need to take their gambling very seriously, the same way I take my job. Sometimes, we have to work late and miss time with family, and this may apply to the professional gambler as well. For everyone else, it is important to remember that gambling is supposed to be fun, and it should not encompass our entire lives.

I’m always amazed when a friend comes back from Las Vegas and one spouse will tell me that they were bored because they don’t gamble and there’s nothing to do in Las Vegas but to gamble. I wonder if they really went to the same Las Vegas that I go to.

Over the past 20 years, Las Vegas went from all sorts of casinos to mega-entertainment centers with casinos in them. There is little doubt a lot that goes on is geared to put you on the casino floor, but there is so much more to do. From the shows to the rides to the scenery, you could spend weeks in Las Vegas, never gamble and not get bored.

Gambling is a form of entertainment, just like many others. Okay, admittedly it is rather different, but the bottom line is, it is just entertainment. If you started skipping work to go the movies on a regular basis (not because some great new film is opening and you want to see it before the mad rush), or spent all day playing video games on your PC, I’d say you have a problem. Well, the same is true if you start taking the casinos too seriously.

If it’s 1 a.m. and you’ve been playing blackjack for five hours, and your wife winks at you and says "let’s go up to the room, honey," and you choose to keep playing, you might have a problem. If it is 10 a.m. and the kids are all ready to go to the pool and you sneak down for a few more hands of Pai Gow Poker, you might have a problem.

The cool part about the tables is that they will always be there. Children grow up so fast (it seems like yesterday that my 16-year-old was the one on a tricycle!), it really is a shame to miss a single moment of it. It was pure joy watching my toddler enjoy his first real snowfall and cry when we said it was time to come in. Why would anyone rather be at a blackjack table?

So, I’m asking all my readers to make a holiday resolution. Casinos make a good distraction once in a while. Make sure it stays that way. Nothing should come before family and friends. I’m sorry if I sound ‘preachy,’ but hey, ‘tis the season! Happy holiday to one and all, and to all a good night…