Neither a Lender nor Borrower

Benjamin Franklin became famous for many reasons, not the least of which were his wise sayings. He published the Saturday Evening Post and no doube included some of the sayings like 'Neither a lender nor a borrower be' in his copy.

That saying certainly can and should be applied to gamblers.

Many friendships have been ruined by people who borrow money and never pay it back. I lived in Las Vegas for a couple of years and the number of poker players and dice shooters who were incapable of returning a loan boggles the mind.

The poker dealers knew who these people were. Randy dealt for the Union Plaza and steered me clear of lending money to a fast-talking young cowboy in a red satin shirt who thought he was a poker player.

Neither Lender nor Borrower

"If you lend that guy a buck, you should have a ceremonial party and say goodbye and because you'll never see it again,' said Randy. 

On another occasion an unemployed dealer hit me for a loan after I had made a nice win at Binion's Horseshoe. He handed me his personal card as I stood at the cashier's window waiting to cash in my winnings. I was amused at the words 'the only friend you'll ever need. I play poker on OPM -- other people's money.'

He wanted to borrow $40 for a buy-in into a $4-8 Texas Hold'em game. I asked another dealer about him.

'He's okay,' the dealer said. He got the loan and that night repaid me with half of his earnings -- over $300.

A lot of players on the tournament trail are broke or next to it. That goes with the territory of being a gambler. They may be broke but if they have high style and are square with their fellow gamblers, they can always shake a loan.

I remember playing against former Phoenix Suns center Connie Hawkins in Phoenix, AZ.  Nicknamed 'The Hawk,' Connie was a gentle giant whose hand size made the average man's paws look like a kid's. We were on a casual speaking basis and one night after I got busted, I approached him for a loan.

Neither Lender nor Borrower 2

Connie gave me a long look and reached into his pocket. I repaid him a short time later and we have been friends ever since.

But there is one player whose name I won't share with you who I would never trust with a loan. He is well known in tournament circles. Back in the days when he was a $4-8 limit player, I made the mistake of lending him $40 after winning a tournament. I have been trying to get that money back ever since.

It actually amuses me the excuses he comes up with not to pay me. He might have thousands of dollars in chips on the table but 'these chips are in action and I wouldn't want to break the chain. It might bring me bad luck, or see me after the game and I'll take care of it.'  The game will end and I can't find him anywhere.

Old Ben Franklin was right. Neither a lender nor a borrower be. Especially if one of your passions is gambling.

“Neither a lender nor a borrower be.”

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