Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Gambler

I suck at gambling. Really I do. To gamble successfully, no matter how smart you are, you need a little bit of luck. I really consider myself a lucky person. Just not with gambling. And I am OK with that. But I suck. My most recent trip to Reno demonstrated that quite succinctly.

Let me say this first. I don't really want to be a good gambler. For one, I never want to be that guy with a nickname like “Vegas Dan” or “Little Reno”. I already have a nickname. It might not be exciting but it works for me. I don’t want to have thousands of dollars on the line. I work damn hard for that cash. I also don’t want a 12 step program unless it is the one Tiger is at. However, it would be nice to have a good story about that one time that I got really lucky at the casino. A lot of people have that story of the day all the cards came way or all the dice rolled seven and eleven. I don't have that story. What I have is this story:

During a recent visit out west by my friend Brian we decided to go to Reno. For those that have never been to Reno, you’re not missing much. It may be the 'biggest little city in the world' but it really comes off as a little version of Atlantic City. Little bastions of nice surround vast expanses of what can politely be described as 'other'. There is also what I would consider an inordinate amount of people in Reno that have full out conversations with themselves or the imaginary person next to them. However, during this particular visit we found a great yet affordable hotel and happened onto a plan that it would be cool to have a place to go bet on the NCAA tournament. So that is what we did.

The first sign that I probably shouldn't have been gambling this particular weekend came when I stopped by the sports book and picked up the odds sheets for the games. I had no idea what the hell I was looking at. OK... I had some idea. I know a point spread when I see one and an over under line. But there were a ton of numbers on this sheet that made no sense what so ever. It was sort of like looking at a game of Sudoku. Undeterred, I soldiered on.

I decided to stick with something I understood. I'd make a simple parlay bet. For those you that aren't down with the lingo, a parlay bet is when you bet a series of games all at once. The odds are really high that you will win... so a small bet can give you a big payout. Since I am small stakes gambler that sounded like a good idea to me. I put in two parlays. The only game the two had in common was a game setting off in just a few minutes, Clemson vs. Missouri. I decided to settle into a nice patient game of craps while I waited for Clemson to take over a game they should easily win.

For those of you that have never played craps before, it’s a good thing when someone is taking a long time with their turn of the dice. This was not one of those times. Seven shooters in 20 minutes came and went along with a good portion of my chips. Licking my quickly inflicted wounds I decided to check in on my nest egg at the sports book, where Clemson had just lost. Let me tell you, the only thing that sucks worse than losing a parlay is losing one after the first game. You have zero sense of excitement the rest of the games. The only thing worse than losing a parlay in the first game is losing two. Add that to my craps looses and I had the trifecta.

Deciding that I was done gambling for the day, Brian and I trekked out to see some other casinos. It was at this point we found the ugliest casino in the world. There are a few lessons about casinos that you learn after a few trips to different venues. Like, casinos attached to hotels are generally higher class then those that stand alone. There are also lessons that you shouldn't have to learn, like if the casino has the word 'terrible' in its name, it likely is just that. Well, as I walked into “Terrible's Rail City Casino” all of these rules were all reinforced.

This is the kind of place where people come after they cash their social security checks. I know I am subject to hyperbole, but in this particular case I am serious. There were far to many people that rolled around Terrible's dragging their oxygen tanks behind their wheel chairs, walkers, or hover chairs. When the two teenage fans of the insane clown posse passed by in full makeup I knew that it was best time to find other pastures.

Now the only thing worse than loosing at gambling, is losing when people you know are winning. The next day Brian and I went to pick up HIS winnings at a much better casino then 'Terribles'. This is the time in a lot of stories where the downtrodden gambler makes his triumphant return and takes a run at breaking the house. Not this story.

In this story I decide to start my incredible comeback with a pair of new parlay bets. I will play it safe with one and then go for the really long odds with the other. High odds, big payout.... little bet. Since someone reminded me of the odds (never do that), I decided to go with a couple of sure things. One of which was for the best team in the county to beat up on some poor sacrificial lamb called Corniversity of Northern Nowhere. In case you haven't been following the news (or are reading this at some point in the future) someone forgot to tell the grain fed hayseeds that they were supposed to lose. Sigh.

“Well at least I wasn't alone in loosing” is something that I wish I could say at this point. But instead I have to say “I am very happy good buddy that you won your SECOND long odds parlay of the weekend. Of course I will drive you over to the casino to pick up your cash.” Thus ended the long weekend of losing.

Now, I don't write these things to gain sympathy. Because as I said at the beginning of this entry that I am OK with sucking at gambling. I have lots of good luck with other things. If gambling is the thing that I have bud luck in, that is really not a problem for me. I look at it as paying into the karma wheel. I'd rather have bad luck there and good luck traveling by airplane or remaining employed? Bad luck gambling, awesome family. Bad luck gambling, good luck that I have lots of friends that read my stupid blog. See how it works?


  1. Don't feel too bad. The games in a casino are designed to take your money. Now, losing at poker, that just indicates a lack of skill and focus. I have the latter problem.

  2. Always an enjoyable read with a great message!