Monday, June 4, 2012

A Meditation on Casino Gambling

PITTSBURGH -- To me, tournament poker players don't really fit with slots players and table gamers and even cash poker players. A lot of the dedicated tournament players -- people who only play in tournaments -- have read all the books, know all the odds, and know exactly how much they are going to lose because they buy in up front. Okay some of them play EVERY DAY, and that means they are as addicted as the guy who keeps running to the cash machine to feed his roulette habit. I saw "that guy."

I was sitting with my daughter Hannah and her boyfriend Dan at a roulette table. "That guy" put chips on probably half of the choices, and he lost everything. He and his wife left the table and came right back with fresh bills from the ATM. He made his choices again and he lost again. Over and over and over. Dan (who played for quite a while with just a little bit of money) said the guy won once or twice, before I sat down. Just enough to keep him coming back, and back, and back.

Slot machines. I haven't looked that closely at them recently (do some of them have cartoons?), but I went to Las Vegas a couple of times years ago when my folks were there on vacation. Ching ching ching ching ching. The sound of coins dropping into the metal bins under the machines. Movie-popcorn-size buckets to carry your change around. That's pretty much gone since everything is now electronic. I have no problem with that. But now, a player doesn't even have to lift a coin or pull the arm of the slot machine. People can sit, immobile, and drink and smoke and lose their paychecks. So I have a suggestion:  treadmill-fueled slot machines. Exercise while you gamble, and cut the energy usage of all those machines. Of course this won't happen because if people started exercising, they might not feel the need to sit and gamble. They might actually want to go outside and walk.

There are smoking sections and non-smoking sections at the local casino. Even though the management would try to disagree, the smoking section is actually the entire casino. Las Vegas tried to go smoke-free. It didn't last.