Monday, October 10, 2005

GAMBLING IN LAS VEGAS

That piece about Bill Bennett got me to thinking about my experiences with gambling and wondering why I had so much contempt for him. In my eyes, he’s a dumb, immoral guy who is pretending to be better than me. Better? Yes. You don’t lecture on morality unless you think you’re better than the lecturee. Isn’t that a given?

Dumb? Damned right he’s dumb.

In one of my many incarnations, I lived in Las Vegas for several years. During that time I made a study of gambling. Let me ‘splain how dumb Bill Bennett is. Slot machines are programmed so the house wins. (Duh) Is there a word in that sentence you don’t understand? The more you play, the less chance you have of winning. That is what odds and percentages do to you. (Duh, again.)

This gentleman got the host casino to bring a slot machine into his suite! (Triple duh.) (And of course he had a suite for free. How often do you find a sucker like that?)

How dumb can you get? After he lost a couple of hundred thousand in the slot, didn’t he detect a pattern? Did he think that by playing more, the odds would turn in his favor? (We are now beyond duh.)

His only defense/excuse would be that he became addicted.

So whom would you trust, an addict or a dummy?

There is one way, only one, to beat the slots. In downtown Las Vegas pick a slot near an open door with lots of pedestrian traffic outside. The casinos let these slots win so passerbys can hear them pay off and be attracted.

But these won’t be big money slots. They’ll be very noisy quarter machines.

Why did I choose to live in Vegas?

Because I was going through one of my many lows in fiduciary experiences and Las Vegas was a very inexpensive place to live.

While I was there, people like Bill Bennett, unbeknownst to them, partially supported me. It was their money, flowing into the system, that kept the cost of living so reasonable,

Countless times, while standing in line at one of the many buffets, a “VIP” was ushered to the front and given immediate seating. Was I offended? Hell no! It was that clown, the Bill Bennett heavy loser type, who was paying for the greater part of my dinner. Given the opportunity, I would have thanked him personally.

Las Vegas is a convention city. They had a huge convention of computer nerds while I was there. The Convention Center was jammed to overflowing with new computer products.

During that week the hotel and restaurant business was exceptional. But the gambling take was the lowest of the year. Guess why? The nerds were too smart to gamble.

There is a way to beat the casinos. A lady wrote a book about it. She did a combination of late night bingo games, slot tournaments, coupon collecting and so on. She cleared about $5,000 dollars a year. That’s an average of $15 a day. There you go. The casinos can be beat.

At the other end of the spectrum, the worst bet will be a slot in a just opened billion dollar casino. They have a big nut to pay off.

I came out a winner in my years there, talking only about gambling. The main reason was I seldom gambled. Anyone looking at my bio can see that I’m a lifetime gambler. But never when I believed the odds were against me.

I once bought $20 dollars in quarters and played a blackjack slot just to see how long it would last if I made every bet correctly. It lasted 8 hours over two days. A friend remarked that I got a lot of fun for my money. I didn’t think it was fun.

I analyzed the casino statistics to see which area paid off the best for the bettor. It was the Sports Book. And the best pay off in the sports book was the baseball games.

I charted all the odds for the baseball games and found a bet that paid off pretty good. I made that bet for rest of the season and won rather consistently. At the end of the season I was nearly a hundred dollars ahead. I never had enough confidence to make a big bet on it. But that was fun.

That’s my experience of gambling in Las Vegas.

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