Sunday, November 03, 2002


Don’t we all wish we had this kind of back catalogue. The Meter tells me I’m still getting referrals from Steve Den Beste, aboard the Good Ship USS Clueless, from a post he wrote on the 9th of September. This is good value, and a sterling reminder that standards need to be maintained.

Steven is holidaying in Las Vegas, a town which has improved its attitude from 25 years ago. At that time, my mad mate Beaver was certain that the City Council would, if they thought they could get away with it, pass certain Regulations making it legal for the City Residents to pull tourists off their bus, rough them up, take their money, and send them out of town. This would be a more economic way of achieving the sole purpose of Las Vegas, which was to separate people from their money as quickly and in as cost-effective manner as possible.

These days, Vegas promotes itself as a family destination, with gambling played down. Although you might die, presumably your killer will be brought swiftly to justice, often within one hour.

Anyhoo, Steven’s ruminations about Vegas, and gambling in particular, reminded me of an excellent book, Inside Las Vegas, by none other than Mario Puzo. Puzo describes himself as a “degenerate gambler”, and as such is qualified to speak to the subject. Large pieces of the book can be seen in the film “Casino”. Grab it if you can, but for those reluctant, here are a few of the more quirky revelations:

· Gambling debts (markers) are not legally enforceable debts. The Casinos are a driving force in maintaining this situation, as they do not want to see large numbers of gamblers going toes-up financially as marginal operators take the legal road.
· Remember, the effective cost of a marker to the casino approaches zero. If you go $50,000 in the hole, what has it actually cost the casino to get you there? A small part of the dealer’s wages, perhaps some comp food, but that’s about it. If you are unable to pay, you will not get your legs broken, and they will probably settle for whatever you can afford without going broke (see above). But you will never, ever, get credit again.

For my own part, I agree with Steve (my bold):
When I play BlackJack I play $10 per hand. It's enough to be fun, without being so high as to threaten economic damage with the cards are unfriendly. (Of course, some other people will think I'm fucking stupid for playing that amount, but I don't do it often and I'm careful to stop each day when I reach my limit. I think of it as expensive and unusual entertainment, pretty much.)

I use my version of Casino Rules: start with a set amount of money. If you lose it, walk away. When you have won half of it again, take the original sum and put it back in your pocket. Under no circumstances touch that pocket again. As the old joke goes: Gambling is a tax on people who can’t do maths.

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