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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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That Million Dollar Feeling

3 January 1994

When you win at the casinos, a lot or just a little, you feel great. Something about gambling makes the prize particularly tantalizing. And, when you're back home, exercising your bragging rights or chortling inwardly over your good fortune, you disregard any minor annoyances you might have endured during your casino visit. Like the lady who rudely chased you from her machine. Or the man who cursed you when he pulled a deuce at blackjack after doubling down on an eleven. Or the pit boss who patronized you with a comp for the food court when you wanted to wow your in-laws with free dinner for four at the Savoir Vivre.

But most people seem to swallow a spoonful of their Mr Hyde elixir if they lose. Everything irritates them and they respond by behaving badly. They ignore the fact that the best players, making the smartest decisions, don't triumph every time. They lose sight of the real reason for their visit risking a loss for a shot at a win... while also enjoying the sights, sounds, tastes, touches, and smells of the Jersey Shore's world-class adult entertainment complexes. They discount that million dollar feeling, within easy reach, that ordinary folks usually only dream about.

If you gambled for a living, maybe you'd be justified in acting like Jekyll when you won and Hyde when you lost. Maybe not. Most professional gamblers aren't like this. They realize they'll have hot days and cold days, and accept the risks as part of the process. But, it goes deeper. Professional gamblers enjoy the environment in which they work. When their cash flows are negative, they still relish the excitement in the air, bask in the lifestyle of the eternal holiday, and eagerly devour the free pickles at the deli.

Some people won't get that million dollar feeling from the casino experience even if they hit the Megabucks jackpot. I can hear them now. "I only got a crummy two million five; the last winner slammed 'em for three million four." Or, "They dole it out over twenty lousy years. In Canada they pay you the whole lump sum." Or, "After it hit, they made me wait twenty minutes for a security check, then they took my social security number so they could hold out taxes, then they ran out of stretch limos for my ride home so I had to go back on the bus with all the losers."

With a pinch of preparation and an ounce of attitude, you can catch that million dollar feeling every time you walk through those casino doors... win or lose. Here are some suggestions:

Dress up for your visit. You're going to someplace special, luxurious, elegant, sophisticated, posh, OK a little gaudy. You'll feel good about yourself when you catch your reflection in the mirror by the escalator in the midst of all the opulence. And, everyone will treat you better, too.

Know how much you're comfortable putting at risk. The amount should govern what you play and how much you bet. On a $100 gambling budget, avoid blackjack, craps, or roulette. And don't start dropping three coins at a time into a $1 slot machine, either. If you spend your stake, don't go to the bank machine - or anywhere else for more.

Decide in advance whether your goal is a reasonable return on the money you wager, or if you're willing to put it all on the line for a longshot at a big score.

Have a plan for non-gambling time at the casino. There's lots to do from leisurely meals and lounge acts to shows, window or real shopping, and strolls on the town. If you reach your gambling goal that reasonable return or the big score you decided on in advance, or if you run out of your original risk capital, quit and switch to one of the other pleasures at the casino or its environs.

Remember the immortal words of Sumner A Ingmark, the poet laureate of the casino scene:

Those great and gaudy gambling halls
Will treat you like you're rich and famous.
Enjoy that million dollar feel,
Or miss it. Be an ignoramus!

Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.