know when to walk away, know when to run

Continued from yesterday.

For all that I love casinos, I have never been a big fan of gambling per se. It combines two pastimes that make me incredibly self-conscious – losing money and doing something I’m not an expert in. I get weird and finicky when my friends watch me play. I alternate between wanting to dive right in and wishing I could be done sooner.

I really love casinos more for the scene than anything else. Folks staying up late, eating ridiculous food (vacation calories don’t count), seeing live music and dancing until the morning. Free drinks. Overdoses of oxygen. All good things.

So for any game I play, I work out a strategy which will allow me to stretch my stake for as long as possible. The casinos don’t get you with the possibility of a big payout; they get you because you don’t know when to quit. So I use the following method:

  • Start with a stake of x.

  • Play some games. Keep track of how much you lose – meaning, how much money hits the table and doesn’t come back – not how much you win.

  • When the amount you lose equals x, walk away immediately.
For a good evening of gaming and a game with decent odds, x should be 10-20 times the table minimum. I went in with a much smaller stake and ended early, with about x/2 in chips. But even then, with fatigue creeping in and the solidity of my method behind me, I heard the whispers creeping around my brain. You can’t be done yet. Look at all these people having fun. You planned on playing with more anyway, didn’t you?

But I shut that noise off quickly. I was already up for the weekend, in that I gave the casino $100 and they gave me a priceless steak, so I wanted for nothing else.

Fraley, Melissa and I took the last limousine shuttle back to the hotel. We tried to wait for Mark and RJ, but they had to cash out (Mark lost a little more than I did; RJ won back the cost of his dinner). I collapsed exhausted once I got to the hotel.

On Friday we sampled the Bellissimo Grande’s continental breakfast (Marriott quality, I’d say) and watched Dirty Jobs before Fraley invited us back to his parents’ house in Rhode Island. My GPS and my reckless driving got me there before Fraley and Melissa, but only just.

Fraley’s mom showed off their new enclosed porch and chatted us up for a few minutes before Fraley’s dad returned from the store, laden with smoked meats. He grilled up burgers and chorizo for all of us while we watched the Red Sox recover from an early 0-3 deficit. They’re generous and tireless hosts.

RJ betrayed us to go play Rock Band at Melissa and Fraley’s house, so I drove Mark back to Boston alone and loafed around the apartment for a bit before heading to 90’s Night, which had a light but comfortable turnout for the 4th of July. That bar gets more entertaining every time I show up, what with helping drunk girls up off the floor and watching portly construction contractors try to pick a fight with Rick. And every time I wonder if Mike isn’t the best DJ in Boston, I go to another club and realize that yes, Mike’s better than that DJ, too. God damn. (Oh, and: last Friday featured the return of Katie to the Allston scene. I don’t expect to see much more of her, for obvious reasons, but I’m glad she’s still mobile)

I don’t think I did anything else of merit that weekend – hell, I didn’t speak to another human being for all of Saturday – but Thursday and Friday were enough.


4 Responses

  1. You should learn to play blackjack, I hear it’s not that hard to win money at. At least, I have a friend who pays for her vegas trips that way.

  2. My last stretch of blackjack was so lucky for me that I don’t know if another game could live up to it. But if RJ can pull it off I suppose I ought to try.

    (I mean, really. RJ)

  3. I like to pretend my math skills count for something. And that I was able to will those blackjacks into existence.

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