Lessons From My First Time Gambling

This weekend, I went to a casino for the first time.  Well, not technically the first time; my mother would go to Atlantic City with one of her sisters on a fairly regular basis when I was younger.  But my sisters, my cousins, and I were too young to get into the casino proper, and spent most of our time either in the hotel room (frequent playing cards, although usually rummy rather than a casino type game) or on the beach.

This was the first time that I’ve been to a casino when I’ve had the opportunity to gamble myself.  It was an interesting experience.  I stuck with the slot machines, mostly, partly because I’m not well versed in most casino games, partly because the minimum wagers on most of said other games were significantly higher than that of the slot machines, and mainly because my fiancee Sondra was playing the slots and I’d rather spend my time with her than off on my own doing something else.  (More on Sondra’s casino experience below.)

It did mean a sizeable portion of my weekend was spent looking at images like this, though.

It was an…interesting experience, to say the least.  If you find yourself in a situation where you have the opportunity to spend some time in a casino, it’s not a bad way to spend some time (and some money), at least if you can do so carefully and not spend money you can’t afford.  There are a few tips I’d keep in mind as I do my gambling, though:

1. Don’t Gamble With Money You Can’t Afford to Lose: If you remember nothing else about gambling, if you completely forget the rules of every card game when you walk in the door, if you look at the grand prize totals listed on the slot machines and are instantly convinced you’re a sure winner, remember this fact: don’t gamble with money you can’t afford to lose.  Using money that you need for rent, bills, retirement savings, or anything similar to gamble (and most likely losing it in the process) is just plain foolish.  And while we’re on the subject…

2. Reduce Your Temptation (and Ability) to Spend Money You Can’t Afford: Keep the amount of money you carry on you to a minimum.  Portion out your gambling money if you intend to gamble multiple days, so you don’t go through it all in the course of your first night.  Leave the credit and debit cards at home.  (If that’s not possible, most hotels provide safes where you can lock any valuables you don’t want to carry on your person.  While that might not entirely prevent you from going back to get them to fund further gambling, it will slow you down and give you time to think about what you’re doing.)

If you find yourself unable to control your gambling, that’s a whole different story.  Make sure you don’t go to casinos (or anywhere else you’d be tempted to gamble), and try to contact an organization like Gambler’s Anonymous to get help.

3. Focus on Having Fun, Not Winning: Gambling should not be considered as a money-making venture, it should be viewed as a means of having fun (with the small chance that you walk out with more money than you came with as a possible bonus).  Treat it that way, try to enjoy yourself, don’t worry too much about winning (if you followed my previous advice, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem), and you should have a more enjoyable casino experience.  Speaking of enjoyable casino experiences…

4. Go Gambling with Friends or Family…: There are several reasons to go gambling as a group rather than on your own.  Your companions can help to keep your gaming under control, by helping you to walk away when you’re done for the day.  It’s also much more enjoyable to be able to share your wins with someone you care about, as well commiserate about the losses together.  Also, if you have the opportunity:

5. …Particularly My Fiancee Sondra: Of particular note is my fiancee Sondra, aka, the luckiest girl I’ve ever met.  She managed to walk out of the casino with as much money as she came with, even though she spent more time gambling than I did.  It was also when she was sitting next to me and spurring me on that I had the most luck I did this weekend.  So, if you find yourself gambling, I would recommend taking her with you.  (I am not nearly so lucky; I did leave with about $50 of the $200 I had brought, although some of that went to buying Niagara Falls souvenirs and food, so I didn’t do as bad gambling as that makes it sound.)

So there you have it, a few stories and thoughts from my first trip gambling.  Here’s hoping that the next time you find yourself in a casino (if that’s your cup of tea, at least) that you have plenty of good luck.

3 Responses to Lessons From My First Time Gambling

  1. My advice on gambling; do not walk into a casino with any expectations. I think you hit the nail on the head about just having fun and not spending any money you can’t afford to lose. This is how people can quickly become overwhelmed and in debt. Before making a trip to Atlantic City or Las Vegas, plan a budget and stick to it. This way, you can rest assured that you won’t be looking for pennies on the ground on your way out of town.

  2. @Alex: Very true; if you go in the casino expecting to win (or for that matter, walk out with the same amount of money that you started with), you’re going to be disappointed. Doing what you can to keep your spending to a strict limit you can afford to lose is a great way to make sure that your gambling doesn’t end up hurting you.

    @Newlywed Bliss: Yes, gambling isn’t for everyone, but it can be a nice diversion if you do it right.

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