I've debated for a good bit if I wanted to bring this part of my life out in my blog but after much consideration, here goes.
A little over two years ago my life changed forever when personal problems with my marriage exploded. I went on a quest to find myself afresh and I began to be open to new things i had never tried. One of those things was going to a casino.
Being raised so conservatively, casinos were off limits. They were "the devil's playground" as one elder in my early church told me. That answer was fine when I was 14, but at 48 with life falling apart, it seemed to ring a bit shallow of an answer so I poked my head in the door to have a look at least.
I'm not sure what I thought I would find but what I saw was a well oiled, money making machine. The business model itself stood out to me quickly... the house provides a number of electronic and table based games, all with a house edge to make the house more money, but why would people play games where they knew the house had an edge? I believe people are drawn in largely for two reasons. One, to be entertained.
Modern Slot Machines are electronic marvels giving the user all of the sights and sounds of a personal and somewhat overwhelming encounter making them feel immersed in the game. Even when they do not win money, the lights and sounds trigger similar sensations in the mind as some people sit and play for hours on end. Table games offer a more personalized experience with a live dealer. Games like Craps (dice), Roulette and Baccarat all offer familiar experiences for the casino faithful but one table game stands out by far to most and that is Blackjack.
The second reason most go to the casino is the possibility of becoming one of the winners. Similar to the lottery, casinos offer the hope (however distant) of getting what feels like free money. of course, while casinos do pay out millions in games and jackpots, they rake in tens of billions from the overwhelming majority who are not winners.
As a child I played Blackjack, then called "21" with my sister growing up so i remembered the basics of the game. I bought in for a whopping $15 which was the table minimum bet and immediately lost. I reluctantly bought in for another $15 and won the next several hands in a row. Once I reached $85 I cashed out very proud of myself and very aware that I had done what very few people ever do, namely I left the casino with more money than I came in with.
I began to study the game of Blackjack in detail. Most dont realize it but there is a good amount of statistical data and probable simulations that go into what is called Blackjack Basic Strategy. When a player uses this basic strategy for every single hand played, they whittle the house advantage down very close to 51%. I may do a follow up blog in the future about how to beat the casino in Blackjack because it IS possible to do....but for today, the larger point is that I began to go regularly to the casino and regularly win more than I lost.
God has always protected me throughout my entire life and I am well aware that my casino experiences have not been typical. No one should misconstrue my blog here as an endorsement to look to any casino for anything more than entertainment. If you need money, do something else. Do NOT gamble to make money. If you are going to gamble, gamble for the fun of it expecting the house to always eventually win... because in the overwhelming majority of cases, they do.
Here is my personal advice for new casino goers...
If you have any addiction issues in your life, I would simply not go to a casino. They are designed to do one thing, separate you from your money. You are not smarter than they are and they have been at this for generations now. For every person like me with beginner's luck, there are millions world wide who have lost everything they wagered.
If you do decide to go, set aside a certain amount you can afford to part with for entertainment...and here is the critical thing.. once that money is gone, you are done. Period. Full Stop. If you can't walk away after losing the reasonable and predetermined amount, in my opinion you have a gambling problem.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.