On casino vacations gambling can so dominate the days, the nights, the mind and the heart, that we become mentally, emotionally and physically lopsided; in short, we become unstable. We eat far too much, sleep far too little, and stand, sit, slouch or slump at table or machine for far too long. We tend to forget why we are there -- to experience pleasure, to have fun, and no one can convince me that those cursing, fuming, foaming players that we all too often see pounding their fists on the tables and slapping the machines upside their handles are really having fun. Rather, they are like the children you see at Circus Circus, moppets on overload, bloated on soda, stuffed with candy, wound up, sugared-out, overtired, screaming, crying, stomping, spewing and, yes, for all intents and purposes demented by, of all things, an excess of play.
Nothing in excess is fun -- not even, well, fun. As Epicurus, that great Greek philosopher said, and I paraphrase: ?The goal of life, my fellow Athenians, is to maximize pleasure and to minimize pain but at a certain point, too much pleasure can become pain, dumbo!?
Think of the things we do for pleasure and you can easily see how painful they could become if we did them for prolonged periods of time, or if we did them for work. In real life, if you went to the movies every waking hour every day for weeks on end, you?d get sick of the movies. They wouldn?t be fun. Ask a professional movie reviewer how much he enjoys the hundreds of garbage movies he has to see each year. His idea of a great leisure-time activity would not include a night at the bijou.
If you went to the beach for 10 hours a day every day for a summer, you would become a leathery beast with creeping melanoma and growing melancholia to boot. Do you really think a lifeguard is having fun in the sun? If you went to gourmet restaurants day after day for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch, you?d not only be monstrously fat but broke and, quite possibly, you?d become a serial killer of haughty waiters. Cooking on a weekend for some friends is fun, being a chef six nights a week is not fun. Anything we do too much of is not fun -- it?s work. Work is the excessive thing we all must do to put food in our bellies, roofs over our heads, and vacations on our calendars.
So too with casino gambling.
Recreational gambling is fun, no matter what your game, machine or bankroll. Win or lose, it is fun. But too much gambling is not fun. Professional card counters, those who actually make their living playing blackjack, are not having fun -- they are working -- and most of them are positively grim. One professional blackjack player once said to me: ?Frank, I hate the casinos. I wish I never saw another casino as long as I live.?
Nor are professional poker players noted for their wit and charm and bubbly personalities as they pursue their chosen profession. Why? Because it?s work with a capital ?W? and very few people have the capacity to wit and charm and bubble their way through a workday, week, month, year or career. Dealers might say they enjoy their work but how many of them deal in their leisure time for fun? Not one. How many surgeons do surgery in their leisure time for fun? Again, not one. How many dentists drill their own teeth on their days off? (Well, maybe some. Dentists are, after all, strange.)
The Captain of craps, that legendary Atlantic City craps player about whom I?ve written many books, tapes and articles, stresses that casino players ?must maintain their normal rhythms? to enjoy the casino experience ?to its fullest.?
?In a casino [town],? states the Captain, ?you have the best games, the best food, the best entertainment, the best of everything, and you have much of this around the clock. Yet, many people never leave the tables or machines and never get to savor everything the casino has to offer. What?s even worse is that many people so change the normal flow of their lives -- they go to bed extremely late, eat much more than they normally would and at odd times of the day or night, and they drink too much, certainly more than they are used to drinking, and they play too much. They change their normal rhythms and that can be a huge mistake in a gambling town.?
The Captain believes that people who act this way ?lose the ability to think clearly and act intelligently.? They also lose the ability to have fun. In so pursuing the gambling goddesses, they lose sight of all the beautiful things around them in the casino world. In short, many casino vacationers go on overload.
John Grochowski, Chicago Sun Times? gaming author, once interviewed a Las Vegas emergency room physician who said the most common casino-related emergency in the city of Vegas is something called the Las Vegas Flu. The first questions the doctors ask a patient who has been brought in from a casino are: ?How long have you been without sleep? And how much have you had to drink?? Again, overload.
So to avoid going ?off? and losing your composure (and perhaps more of your money than you can truly afford to), and in the interests of helping you to fully enjoy your vacation in a casino town, I have put together the following prescription plan. Follow it and not only will you have a decent shot at winning money when you gamble, you will have a great shot at enjoying every second of your casino vacation.
Next Issue: A Prescription for Casino Pleasure
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