If you were boxing for the middleweight championship, would you spend the week before the fight partying with friends or working out with sparring partners and punching bags in a gym?
It may sound silly to say this but some gamblers seem to think they don't need to prepare themselves mentally and even physically before they go to a casino to test their wits and expertise against the House or other players.
No matter how good you think you are at blackjack, poker or the horses, you can always sharpen your game through preparation before the action begins. If you don't, you're just asking for trouble.
How do I know this? Because I have done it myself many times and almost every time, I fall short of glory.
Years ago I decided to play in a big poker tournament in Las Vegas. I was very excited about competing because the prize money was big, it was being held at one of my favorite Strip casinos and I felt confident I could do well against the other players.
The tournament started at noon. After a good night's sleep at my hotel, I headed down to the resort's health club and began working out with weights and the other exercise equipment. I worked up a good sweat, then hit the sauna and a steam bath. I finished my morning workout by taking a brief but frigid dip in some ice-cold water, followed by a session on the oxygen tank.
At 11:30, I did 50 push ups, 50 set ups, and 100 jumping jacks. I was ready to play.
Something funny happened during the first 15-minute break While the other players retired to the bar or restaurant for a quick drink or cup of coffee, I hurried to the restroom. I waited until the place cleared out, then dropped to all fours and was doing 50 quick push ups to fill my brain with fresh oxygen when a porter entered the room.
Wide-eyed, he backed off. I smiled, got to my feet, and dusted off my hands. Then I explained I was in the tournament and just trying to keep in shape for the duration.
'Man, I seen a lot of things in this city,' he said, shaking his head 'But I never saw nothing like a man doing push-ups in the bathroom before. I thought you were having conniptions '
Conniptions? I never heard that word before. I dropped a tip in his hand and headed back to the poker room.
While I didn't win the tournament, which drew 350 players, I finished third and picked up over $12,000 for a $450 buy-in. I was pleased with my performance and especially with the preparation that helped me get ready for the stiff competition I knew I would face.
There is no short cut to glory in a casino.
If you plan on beating the horses, you need to find a Daily Racing Form and give yourself enough time to handicap the races. It takes me between three and four hours of steady concentration to figure out all the factors in a race. I don't take any short cuts.
If your game is blackjack, you should study your basic system and deal yourself some practice hands in the privacy of your hotel room Do it until you feel familiar with the cards. When you are full of confidence, it's time to play, but not before.
Even with preparation you may not win. But I can pretty much guarantee that without it, your chances of overcoming the odds and booking a win are pretty slim.
Just don't have any conniptions.