Dealing with losing

Feb 24, 2004 1:30 AM

I’m no different than anybody else. I like to win, and I’m very unhappy when I don’t. My expectations are generally a bit higher than others, however, because I do not often lose, and I go into EVERY session with the confidence of a true winner. Amounts really don’t matter when comparing feelings though.

You might be disappointed to lose a hundred bucks. I take losing $3,000 hard. An NBA star may not start feeling lousy until the losses start to hit well into six figures. It’s different for everyone, because we all have our own financial situations and positioning in life to deal with.

Understanding all this is one of the reasons I am able to effectively communicate with the thousands who write me all the time Âí­”” and why they for the most part believe in what I say. I also think that because I’m not out to sell them anything, my credibility remains high.

In the past I’ve devoted entire articles to reliving some of my losing trips. In 2003 I had my largest session-loss ever ”” $33,960 ”” and I felt talking about it publicly would make me feel better (which it did). Even though my year was successful in professional play ”” and very successful for a change in recreational play ”” that loss still haunts me.

But now I have a new one to deal with. I recently went to Laughlin and Las Vegas with a $10,000 bankroll, and returned with nothing but "if onlys" on my mind. So many close calls on big winners; so many royal straights and so many missed quads.

I just couldn’t seem to dodge that speeding truck before the day was over. And what made it so tough was that three of the places where I usually win ”” Ramada Express, Sam’s Town, and Edgewater ”” were all sitting in the very front row. Almost everyone who plays needs a royal flush to have a chance at coming out ahead on a trip. For me it’s only aces ”” and I saw plenty of them ”” but four of them never did come out at the same time. That truck was always bearing down on me and there was nothing I could do. You know the feeling?

But as there always is for everyone who lives to see another day, we do have life after a video poker trip. That’s why it’s so important not to play with money outside your personal gambling bankroll. Casinos, of course, couldn’t care less about whether we spend the car payment or lose the grocery money. That’s why they strategically place so many ATM’s on their floors.

Players lose, then for some reason they believe one quick hit will make it all up for them. Sure that could happen, but how often is THAT?

I do have to admit, I used to fall prey to using money other than that intended for gambling when I played from 1990-1996. I ran to the cashier to cash checks after losing, and scurried to the nearest ATM with that zoned-out look in my face — as all I could really see were visions of that last few hundred dollars turning into thousands with one sweet hit. But it rarely came — do I need to tell you that?

Losing ten grand to me is getting clobbered. For the first time in my professional career I have to begin my second month of play in a negative position. Does the fact that I’m up just over $550,000 (no folks, I do not cloud my record with comps, gifts, miles, smiles, or even cash back) since Jan. 1997 comfort me when I look at the big picture? No, not a bit, and that’s how it is when you play short-term strategy.

What happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow means absolutely nothing when I go in to play a session. My goals are set and based on what my family or I might want or need beyond living expenses, and I allocate every winning dollar to some sort of asset or good time.

There’ll be no extras around the Singer households this week, that’s for sure. But what about tomorrow? What if another disaster hits?

Well, I feel good about tomorrow’s play for two reasons: The gambling bankroll I need for Romp-Thru-Town type Strategy is far less than what I have saved up for my Single Play Strategy; And since my overall record is 181-20 for all of my Strategies, they do seem to work and I believe I can trust them — as long, that is, as my mind remains sharp and focused.

Yes, I got run over by the truck this week, but more often than not I can’t even hear it coming. That’s what winning’s all about.