Mosca
Mosca
Joined: Dec 14, 2009
  • Threads: 179
  • Posts: 3813
October 29th, 2010 at 7:41:52 PM permalink
I've though a lot about this experience, about having visited Las Vegas. While there, I tried to keep my eyes and ears, and mind and heart, open; I hope I did well, I hope I got a little bit of an education. I think I did.

I'm going to just kind of post, keeping each post to one topic, one aspect of what I saw, heard, and felt. Although they won't be in any order of importance, I am going to make this first post about the one thing that I got that I think really is the most important.

---------------------

OK. Now I get it.

I've written a lot about the emotional side of gambling, about how it seems to be ignored by the math guys here, about how reducing it to numbers ignores the fact that it is a recreation, a pastime, an adventure, a lark. And that is true. But that doesn't make me right. Because Las Vegas is different. Different from Atlantic City, and light years different from stand-alone casinos out east.

In Vegas, the emotional charge isn't something novel and different, like it is to someone like me, a casual gambler who plays small change once a month or so. In Vegas, the emotional charge is everywhere. It is so pervasive that it is almost numbing. Instead of being a high, in Vegas the emotional charge represents the floor. It is the air, it is the water. It is the glance between people walking toward each other, that they make to keep from running into each other. It is completely inescapable. Knowledge of the numbers is the only defense. It is the only way a gaming man or woman can survive without being chewed to pieces.


AC isn't at all like Vegas. Sure, there's a bunch of casinos all in one place. And some of them are pretty nice, and they're fun. But it's not the reason for AC, like it is for Vegas. You can gamble in AC, but gambling isn't the reason for AC. AC is smaller. AC is socially stratified; there are slums and casinos. The casinos seem pasted onto the city, not part of it. And there aren't any slots in the airport.

How this works to the traveler is, AC is a minor destination. No one is sitting right now in suburban Indianapolis debating Atlantic City vs Las Vegas. Nor were they ever. The people who go to AC do it like the Mrs and I do: "Whaddya got planned for Sunday? Wanna drive to AC? Caesar's sent us a room offer, I can take a vacation day Monday." And we take a few hundred, and we toss it on the tables and in the slots, and when we're done we drive home. It's casual, we get the emotional charge, and it's over.

Are the numbers important, in AC? Well, yeah. They're real. But they aren't necessary as a defense against the culture. Because there is no culture of gambling. There's just casinos, and games. You can take a few hundred to AC and play penny slots and go home feeling good. You can waste away the weekend with 300 $1 bets on the Big 6 Wheel and not be any the worse for it, because you aren't living in the universe of chance; you are sticking your hand in, betting, and pulling it out. When you're done, you leave.


Las Vegas... to the traveler, that represents an investment. A 6 hour flight and a room. A vacation week. Money for shows. A car, probably. And by god, if you're going to Las Vegas you're going to dive in and gamble. And what you get is the noob entering a world where everyone is there... to take the money from the noob. And there's nothing wrong with that. Understand, I cast no aspersions. I like it. It seems right, to me. It's the collision of a motivated mark and a patient, organized, institutionalized con. The noob has no defense against total immersion in something that he used to only see from afar, that he used to watch on TV.

Except the numbers. Know the numbers. Maximize your return. Understand the relationship between bet and bankroll. Because it is precisely because there is that big investment surrounding your trip... the flight, the room, the car, the time off work... that you don't get caught up in the emotion, that you don't toss money at the Big 6 Wheel, you don't play $25 craps with a $500 bank, you don't sit at the $5 slots (more on Vegas slots in a different post). Because if you're not paying attention Vegas will eat you up and crap you out, without thinking twice, because right behind you is another noob waiting in line for the privilege to lose.

Get the charge. But keep your wits. Keep your eyes on the prize, and don't put on a show for anyone. When everything is pulling at you to go ahead, keep playing, the ATM is right there! remember the numbers, and how they behave. Have fun.... there's nothing in the world like the charge from a good game. But follow the numbers.
NO KILL I
JerryLogan
JerryLogan
Joined: Jun 28, 2010
  • Threads: 26
  • Posts: 1344
October 29th, 2010 at 7:51:46 PM permalink
If only you could post something like that on the vp boards where all these self-announced AP's hang out....and not be hit with denial after denial after denial at every turn.

I've been to AC 3 times and it's always only been because I was "in the area" (like NYC, Philly or somewhere in NJ). LV gets the best of me every year, but I'm still excited as hell to go again every single time. Your post makes a lot of sense.
EvenBob
EvenBob
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
  • Threads: 428
  • Posts: 24705
October 29th, 2010 at 8:15:52 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca



In Vegas, the emotional charge is everywhere. It is so pervasive that it is almost numbing. Instead of being a high, in Vegas the emotional charge represents the floor. It is the air, it is the water.



If you keep going, you'll find that it will change. I've been going for decades and I don't see any of that anymore. I remember well the first time I went and it blew my socks off. Now all I see is what my agenda is for the day. If I didn't do that, I would be overwhelmed by the crowds and the traffic. In a casino, all I see is my game and my table, the rest of it doesn't exist.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
Mosca
Mosca
Joined: Dec 14, 2009
  • Threads: 179
  • Posts: 3813
October 29th, 2010 at 8:45:47 PM permalink
Quote: EvenBob

Quote: Mosca



In Vegas, the emotional charge is everywhere. It is so pervasive that it is almost numbing. Instead of being a high, in Vegas the emotional charge represents the floor. It is the air, it is the water.



If you keep going, you'll find that it will change. I've been going for decades and I don't see any of that anymore. I remember well the first time I went and it blew my socks off. Now all I see is what my agenda is for the day. If I didn't do that, I would be overwhelmed by the crowds and the traffic. In a casino, all I see is my game and my table, the rest of it doesn't exist.



I noticed it because I was trying to observe everything. I really wanted to both concentrate and relax, to stay sharp and to learn by watching. I was watching other people, and getting the vibe.

We were there with another couple, and my friend isn't a gambler; he's a drinker, and a partyer, but not a gambler. I'm not much of a drinker, I have heart problems, and I never drink when I gamble. After our awards banquet, where we did well, I went upstairs to lose the necktie and tight shoes. I came downstairs and M. was at the craps table... and it was like a Hollywood movie, with everyone cheering and clapping rhythmically, and M. with the dice and a big handful of blacks and greens. He'd bought in with $100, set a point and had 15 rolls before hitting his point... he hit THREE hard eights in that streak! He had no idea what he was doing, he had a big water glass full of vodka, his lady looked great in a slinky little black dress and M. was living the dream. I played a few rolls, but the $25 min was too rich for my blood and I cashed out up a quarter, and went to the BJ tables. M. was doing fist rolls and punching the air as he tossed a couple greens on the field.

90 minutes later I checked back with him. All the serious players had moved to another table. There were still a few party people, and M. was still whooping it up, and N. still looked great in that dress, but the handful of blacks was down to half a dozen greens, and they weren't from the original buy-in, either. He was down close to a grand. He hit a point and collected a black... but he was still down close to a grand, just not as close.

Same thing happened the next night. After dinner, I stayed in the home casino, The Bellagio, and played cards. M. went hopping. Our bag pull was for 4:30AM, and our airport transportation was leaving at 6AM. I hadn't heard from him, so at 1AM I gave him a call to make sure he knew when to do what... "Hey buddy, thanks, I'm... I dunno, in a casino somewhere, I'm playing something called Pai-Gow Poker, you ever play that? It's great, I just learned it, I gotta go." They missed the bag pull and showed up less than an hour before the flight. He still doesn't know where he was playing.

Vegas is there for him. He had a blast. He loved it. But it cost him. If all you care about is the emotional part, you wake up with a hangover and an empty wallet. And unlike Hollywood, there's nothing funny about that. It's only fun when it's happening, it feels really ugly afterward. It's like cocaine (I've heard); a high price to pay, looking back from the next morning.
NO KILL I
mkl654321
mkl654321
Joined: Aug 8, 2010
  • Threads: 65
  • Posts: 3412
October 29th, 2010 at 9:25:24 PM permalink
There is a way to escape the emotional pull, long before you simply get inured to the whole thing, as EvenBob suggests (correctly) will happen. It is to think in mathematical terms. Despite all the hoopla and vodka and screaming and shouting and slinky black dresses, when you put a black chip on the pass line, you have just handed the house $1.41. And the next time. And the next time. All the hoopla with the dice and the dealer and the stickman that follows is just obfuscation. Regardless of the actual outcome of the bet, you have just lost $1.41, SIMPLY BY THE ACT OF PLACING THAT BET. Stick $3 in a dollar slot, and you have just lost thirty cents, REGARDLESS OF THE OUTCOME.

Whenever I got tempted by all the hoopla, I had a very effective deadening device--I just played a little video in my head of the dealer hitting her 16 with a 5, the dice landing on four-three instead of the desired four-four, the dealer (at PGP) revealing a flush with two Aces in front, and--grab, grab, grab, scoop, scoop, scoop, seven out, lose your double down 20, watch those green chips in front of you get picked up and put in the rack. Over and over and over. It's quite effective as a mental deterrent.

Because, for whatever reason, I always thought in terms of the math, the hoopla of gambling never appealed to me. I was instead intrigued by the fact that on my first trip there, I picked up coupons with an expected value of $350, and spent an entire day walking from downtown to the Strip, and cashing them in. I was intrigued by the fact that I could count cards to my heart's content at the Horseshoe, and as long as I never bet more than $10, not only would they not bother me, they would buy me breakfast in the morning (the joint had class back then). I made $40 or so every night, and went back to my downtown weekly hotel room and slept the day away. I liked playing $1-3 seven card stud against the tourists, and made $10/hr. All this when the minimum wage was around $4/hr.

I guess I got all this from my mother. She was more tickled by a 50 cents off coupon for Campbell's soup than a night out at the movies. She stretched a dollar farther than anyone would have thought possible--it was a game for her. So I took her values to Vegas with me. Show me a $5 match play coupon, and it's like a $2.40 bill! Fun book for nothing--but here are five coupons good for $2 worth of nickels each! My mom would have loved it. That $350 was completely free money.

Now, I play slightly positive EV video poker, and take my action to where it will do the most good. I spent all but three days in June in Vegas, and I wound up about $400 to the good for the trip, and every room was comped, and all my meals were free. My playing mathematical expectation was actually about -$200, so I did better than expected--but a $200 loss would have been fine for an otherwise free vacation (I used Southwest Rapid Rewards coupons to get there). I have to admit, though, it's really all about the thrill of the chase. When they give me a free room for the weekend, free meals, and $50 to play with, and they don't figure to win more than $100 back from me, I feel I'm beating the system.
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality.---George Bernard Shaw
EvenBob
EvenBob
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
  • Threads: 428
  • Posts: 24705
October 29th, 2010 at 9:48:07 PM permalink
Quote: Mosca

Quote: EvenBob

Quote: Mosca


Vegas is there for him. He had a blast. He loved it. But it cost him. If all you care about is the emotional part, you wake up with a hangover and an empty wallet. And unlike Hollywood, there's nothing funny about that.



I see those people everytime I leave Vegas on the shuttle. They got there on Fri and now its Mon morning and they got maybe 15 hours sleep for the last 3 days. They're dazed and exhausted and broke. You hear stories from the guy who lost his kids 35K college fund and guys who won 20K and ended up down 10K. Lots of guys are afraid to go home and face their wives. They should never go to Vegas without their spouses, its too dangerous.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
EvenBob
EvenBob
Joined: Jul 18, 2010
  • Threads: 428
  • Posts: 24705
October 29th, 2010 at 9:50:36 PM permalink
Quote: mkl654321



Because, for whatever reason, I always thought in terms of the math, the hoopla of gambling never appealed to me.



If you can gamble without emotion, you almost have the casino at your mercy if you have a decent method of play.
"It's not enough to succeed, your friends must fail." Gore Vidal
FleaStiff
FleaStiff
Joined: Oct 19, 2009
  • Threads: 265
  • Posts: 14484
October 30th, 2010 at 7:11:57 AM permalink
I think "The Buzz" is the major factor for most people. Booze, Broads, Beer, .... and its all amidst flashing lights, loud music, coins hitting metal trays (or sounds recordings of it). Personalities change when it becomes "Vegas Baby. Vegas". Some focus on fancy foods whereas some focus on pheremone-filled nightclubs, some focus on free alcohol, but whatever the focus is on, its not on the calm dispassionate gambler.

A bored and desperate stick chick calls out "get your S and M bet" ... and some fool tries to get an S and M bet. Alert? Attentive? His mind is not on a slide rule. Don a fanny pack, get half plastered and feed a slot machine, your mind won't be on math!

That guy who was playing games he had never heard of and didn't even know what casino he was in is a common event. His next visit to Vegas will probably go the same way.
Mosca
Mosca
Joined: Dec 14, 2009
  • Threads: 179
  • Posts: 3813
October 30th, 2010 at 9:31:50 AM permalink
Yes.

And I'm not against any of that, either. I'm 100% for it. It is legitimate enterprise, engaged in by adults. It is unique, exciting, and has value. You can gamble almost anywhere these days, but you can only "go to Vegas" in Vegas.

What impresses me is how systematic it all is. How the excitement is exciting for the visitors, and just part of the background noise for the insiders. The institutionalization of excitement and potential, for profit. If you want to jump in and experience it, and live to do it again, you have to follow the math.

I have my eyes wide open. I understand that probability doesn't know where it is, that it doesn't change in AC or Mohegan, that a 3 Card table will clean you out just as quickly in Connecticut as it will in Vegas. But the yank isn't present in AC or Mohegan. The games are there, but they're easy to walk away from. I drive past Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs 15 times a week on my way to and from work and around town on the weekends, and never consider going in, not even as idle musing. My money is real, and mine, but I'm not going to sweat the difference of a couple or few percents of edge on a few hundred dollars played for 3 hours every month or two. But when a place is set up to make you want to break your limits, to make you want to bet more, and bet more frequently, and there is a considerable investment in time and money and DESIRE to partake in that place, following the odds is your best chance. For me to want equal weight for the excitement... that was just naive.
NO KILL I
MrV
MrV
Joined: Feb 13, 2010
  • Threads: 313
  • Posts: 6896
October 30th, 2010 at 10:41:49 AM permalink
There is little "there," there on the Strip.

Locals avoid it like the plague.

They prefer to patronize the locals joints .

Think about why that is, then reboot, and try again.
"What, me worry?"

  • Jump to: