No game in life is more psychological than being a successful gambler.
If you are the type of person who goes to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or your favorite Indian casino on a Friday night with X-number of dollars that you have set aside to lose, never fear. Your pre-programmed plans will be carried out. Unless something miraculous happens -- divine intervention perhaps -- you will lose that amount and probably more.
This is human nature. This is what drives us. This is what makes casino owners rich.
I have a younger brother who is mesmerized by the slots. I won't call him addicted because that is a negative term in today's world. Mesmerized is much truer.
Lured by the constant stream of emails he receives from The Meadows, a casino and harness race track near Washington, PA., he piles up those casino benefits that go out to slot players until he has a tidy amount due him -- say $50 to $100, or even more.
He then takes his players reward card (along with a couple hundred in cash and his VISA card) and, like countless other players in Western Pennsylvania, heads out to the Meadows for a day of fun.
Fun? How about a day of loss for him and gain for the casino moguls who through effective advertising and promotions lured him into this den of iniquity.
History is replete with tales about conquest. The butcher always wins when it comes to a showdown between him and his sheep. You rarely hear a tale of a sheep killing the butcher.
But that is the way it goes in casinos. The gullible are lured into places like The Meadows, Talking Stick, Downstream, Wild Horse Pass, Indigo Sky, The Orleans, Mardi Gras, Golden Nugget and any other casino I could mention, and they fall victim to one of the oldest schemes in the world -- the uninitiated and unskilled losing to skilled professionals who know precisely what they are doing when they extract that pound of flesh from you.
Not that I am putting down casino management. Not at all. According to their philosophy and way of thinking, they are providing entertainment and perks in return for your presence and your dollars.
Don't blame the casino when you find yourself broke and heading for the ATM machine with your debit card. Blame yourself.
There are ways for people to overcome the built-in casino advantage. Where there is a will, there is a way. But first you need to have that will.
DEADLY SIN NO. ONE: understand the game you are playing and know the odds. If the game is slots or keno, the odds are vastly against your chance of success. There are exceptions to this rule, of course. There are always exceptions. A casino introduces a new slot machine. It could be set up to pay off at a higher rate than normal, and for a little while, you find yourself winning and think it's because of your skill. Think again. Skill plays a very small role when it comes to slots or keno.
DEADLY SIN NO. TWO: never gamble when you are upset or facing financial woes or problems at home. If you are interested in self-destructing, there are plenty of other places you can go that would have a much lesser impact on your bank roll.
DEADLY SIN NO. THREE: never take someone with you to a casino that you want to impress, especially someone of the opposite sex. This rule applies especially to poker players or horse handicappers. The more you try to impress that stunning blond or redhead you met at a bistro on the Strip, the more it will cost you. Trust me. I know about this sort of thing.
DEADLY SIN NO. FOUR: it's okay to take a drink to calm your nerves and get you in a winning mood. The Chinese have a proverb, 'The man drinks the first drink. The drink drinks the second drink. Then the drink drinks the man.' Limit your alcohol intake to two drinks. Any more could be disastrous.
DEADLY SIN NO. FIVE: don't get greedy. Play relaxed. Smile. Watch your chips. Joke with the dealer and your fellow gamblers. Tip the waitress when she brings your drink. But don't be greedy. If you have won five hands in a row at a blackjack table, don't plunge and bet all your winnings on one hand. That's greed and it rarely works.
DEADLY SIN NO. SIX: don't set a time limit on gambling, especially if the game is poker. Violating this rule has probably cost me more money over the years than anything else. You cannot force the good cards to come to you. That only comes with time and patience.
DEADLY SIN NO. SEVEN; don't ignore the plight of others. This may sound altruistic, but it makes a difference in your psychological makeup and your attitude toward gambling. If you see a cleaning woman, a porter, a shoeshine man, a tip is not out of style, especially if it's accompanied by a smile, a wink and a 'Have a great day.'
DEADLY SIN NO. EIGHT: after you have made a big score at a casino, call it a day. Don't try to stretch out your luck. Pocket the money, spend it well and come back another day. That is what gambling and life are all about.