HomeFamilyGambling (verb) = a quick way to become poor

Gambling (verb) = a quick way to become poor

So I was in Vegas this last weekend for the Rock & Roll Half Marathon. No, I didn’t run, but my brother did. Girl Ninja was in Denver for the weekend visiting a college friend so I joined my Mom, Dad, and Brother in Sin City. Bro Ninja broke his personal record in the half marathon, my dad and I rode Harley’s through the Valley of Fire and over the Hoover dam, we saw a magic show, ate delicious food, and I even smoked my first cigar. Well, not exactly. I smoked two puffs of my dad’s cigar.

I’m such a nerd, I made my dad film me doing it so I could show Girl Ninja. Here’s a screenshot…

I had a lot of firsts over the weekend, but my first gambling experience trumped ’em all. That’s right. I broke one of the Personal Finance cardinal rules and gambled. Any guesses as to how much I cash I was willing to lose?


If you said Twenty big one’s you’d be spot on. Haha, I’m a rebel huh? Even though I only gambled for a total of maybe 23 minutes, I learned a lot about myself during that time. Including, but not limited to:

  • I like my money.
  • I don’t like giving my money to other people.
  • If I’m going to gamble, I’m going to “go big”. No penny slots for me.
  • I will only play slots, because I’m too scared I’ll make an idiot out of myself at an actual table.
  • I get absolutely zero thrill out of winning money.
  • I get really pissed when I lose money.
  • It doesn’t take very long to lose $20.

On Saturday night, while my dad finished the cigar, I took to the slot machines on a mission to strike it rich. I threw a twenty-dollar bill in, had no idea what the heck I was doing, and hit “max bet” over and over, and over. Over the next ten minutes, I’d lose five or ten dollars, and win two or three back. This went on all the way until I was down to my final two dollars. I hit “max bet” again and found myself twenty-five dollars richer. I suddenly had $27 banked. I went straight to the cashier to cash out. I took the seven dollar profit, put it in another slot machine and lost it all in just a few turns. I got about 20 minutes of entertainment, and lost no money. Heh, gambling wasn’t so bad.

Monday morning, as we were waiting in the hotel to catch our airport shuttle, I decided to put that same $20 in another slot machine and see what the gambling gods above had in store. Literally, three minutes later, I was broke.

And that concludes my Las Vegas gambling extravaganza.

Gambling never has, and never will make sense to me. The flashy lights, free drinks, and comfortable seats don’t exactly negate the smell of cigarette smoke, belligerent alcoholics, and the likelihood of ending the night poorer than you started.

But I was definitely the exception in Vegas. Didn’t matter what time of the day it was morning, noon, or night people were loving the tables.

Are you one of them?

When/if you gamble, do you actually think you will make money? Or do you gamble purely for entertainment? If you were in Vegas this weekend, how much would you put in your gambling fund?

p.s. Here’s a shot of my dad and I halfway through our motorcycle ride…

Definitely didn’t photoshop this at all 😉

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  1. “I was only off by 6 numbers.” I LOLed so hard.

    And yes, I’m sure the American flag just follows you around everywhere you go. 😉

    I do like to play card games and throw around poker chips, but only at home, with friends, and with no real money on the line. Or in a computer game. I play some mad solitaire. I don’t really take any pleasure in losing real money though.

    I will enjoy a good cigar every now and then though. Makes me feel richer than I am. 😀 Hope you didn’t rush lighting it…

  2. AWESOME! Looks like you had a great time in Vegas except with the losing part. Did you walk on the new bridge bypassing Hoover Dam? Did you see the Skyjump on the Stratosphere? Which restaurants did you guys hit? See lots of cowboys and cowgirls here for the NFR?

    Regarding gambling, I usually stop after I win more than I put in IF I don’t lose it all in the first place. I have a similar philosopy in regards to investing. I still shoot for the lottery/progressive slots from time to time because you can’t win if you don’t try 🙂 I do keep it to a minimum amount like you did on your trip here.

  3. I really like watching people at the casino – at the tables, that is. I go maybe a couple times a year, because there are restaurants at SkyCity, and also cheap parking there too. Sometimes we’ll put in five bucks into a machine for the hell of it – and how fast it goes! One time we put in 10, I think, and managed to almost break even.

  4. I went to Vegas for the first time this summer, and it was amazing. We went and saw the Pinball Hall of Fame (a cool little warehouse off of the strip) where I got to knock around the silver ball and then it was to the Venetian.

    I’m not so much in the slot machines for the money winning – I have no intentions of winning any money, though I keep the hope alive. What I love about the machines is the ‘sparkly’ factor – I get into the lights and the fact that I get to see spinning things. The other thing that I love is the special little games that come with the machines. It’s a mindless pursuit, but it’s something that’s really great. To counter this, I just got some of the slot machines on my computer so I could play them at home.

    I LOL’d too at the picture. 🙂

  5. Sounds like an amazing trip. I’ve only been to Vegas once but loved it-I think I spent most of my time walking up and down the strip taking a look at all the different crazy hotels…or pretending to play the slots so I could get a free drink!

    I think I only risked a $10 in the slots over the whole trip and that didn’t last too long…I’m right with you on not loving losing my money! That being said my buddy took to the roulette tables and I enjoyed being his groupie and cheering him on…and of course getting more free drinks 🙂

    PS I think the eagle makes your picture.

  6. My one and only casino experience was playing Bingo with my friend (who goes regularly). I think spent $60, and won nada. Well…one of the people we went with won $1199, and gave everyone $40 (sort of a deal they all have going). So it really only cost me $20.

    My girlfriend played slots for about an hour after Bingo…she won about $70.

  7. I have gambled a few times in Vegas, both Blackjack. Mostly to get the free drinks, but even then I only went through 15$. If I need to have a vice I would rather bet on a sure thing, and buy shoes.

  8. I have played slots a few times solely as entertainment. I figure dropping $10 on a movie and $10 in the slot machine is pretty equivalent.

  9. We’re definitely cut from the same cloth, Ninja. I’ve been to Vegas twice and gambled a collective total of $0; some of it is not wanting to look like a fool at a table, but the other part of it is wanting to spend my money on stuff I know I’ll enjoy, like a good meal (and there’s tons of good food there) or a show.

    Who knows. Maybe there’s a gambling addict in my head just waiting to burst out. He sure is taking his sweet time, though.

  10. My old lady and I go to Vegas once a year or so. Neither of us are hardcore gamblers, but we enjoy doing it. Typically I break even and she is a lucky person and almost always comes back up (not just a little but like $50 – $150 up). We enjoy the entertainment aspect of it. In general we just enjoy going to wander around and take in some shows.

  11. I have to agree with you on the gambling. I think i’ve been to vegas 4 times since I’ve been 21, and lost a total of $150 to gambling. There are just other things I’d rather do in vegas than sit around and watch some dealer or machine take my money – though I did do pretty well playing roulette with my dad one night.
    I really like that pic – glad you got to see a bald eagle down there, that’s pretty far south of their normal habitat.

  12. i love Vegas, its a great time and a fun vacation, that said i dont gamble a whole lot, maybe $100 and thats it, i hate “giving” my money to the house. i would rather drink and walk around or sit by the pool. Little tip dont go to Vegas in July its 110 degrees, no joke. My GF would gamble all day if i let her. she loves the wheel of fortune slot machine game

  13. If I were going to Vegas this weekend, I would go see the Lion King and blow about $100 gambling in the penny slots… oh wait, I AM going to Vegas this weekend and that is exactly what I plan to do!! This weekend is girls weekend with my mom and sister. For Christmas my mom got us tix to the show and the hotel room. I have $200 to blow this weekend, and I figure I’ll use about half for food and I’ll stick the rest in the one armed bandits. It’s not my retirement plan, but I enjoy gambling. I figure if I lose a little money, it’s no worse than someone who’s spent it on crazy motorcycle parts (and my hobby won’t cause me to lose a limb if I do it wrong!)

    Loving the eagle in the picture – very natural looking 😉

  14. Ahhh.. Vegas. Will be going in a few weeks. We try to go for a few days every couple of years. Always try to do different things (except pinball and overpriced souviners ALWAYS wins out). Usually spend half a day at the Pinball Hall of Fame. Watch at least one show at the Fremont Experience. Get some M&Ms that are custom printed (“mine” and “not yours”). Squish pennies. Sometimes take in a show (comedy, although this year we might see Jubilee). Usually do a touristy exhibit (Bodies, Titanic). Last year we previewed a show at CBS Television City. Gamble between $20 & $50 (not at the airport – lose every time; not on the strip – money goes twice as fast). Try to find the dollar machines (cash out the coins, each casino has their own). Try to find the giant slot machines. Get a picture with the Million Dollar Display. Ride the monorail. Don’t ride the busses after midnight unless you feel like watching drunk people debate politics, which can be entertaining sometimes. Thinking about bowling and taking in an ice hockey game this year, if we don’t do the mob tour. We’ll see. Also trying to decide whether to use the gold vending machine at the Golden Nugget.

  15. One of my high school math teachers was in Vegas for some reason and only played one quarter in a slot machine. Once he lost that, he decided that so far his winning percentages was zero, and he wasn’t going to lose any more money!

    I’ve never really been into gambling. I’m awful at poker because I’m really bad at lying and have no poker face. I do have a reunion in Vegas this summer, though, so we’ll see what happens!

  16. Woah your dad seems like a big dude!

    When/if you gamble, do you actually think you will make money? Or do you gamble purely for entertainment? If you were in Vegas this weekend, how much would you put in your gambling fund?
    – I ABSOLUTELY GAMBLE…. Hold em, sports, & blackjack mainly. If I am feel particular adventurous maybe some 3 card poker but that is usually too rich for my tastes.

    Everytime I tweet that I am in PA visiting the inlaws I usually stop in at the casino there lol

      • Older brother is 6’2 younger brother is 6’4…I am pushing 5’8 on a good day but this ninja has all his hair the taller ones do not! So I have come to terms being a bit shorter as I run my hands through my lustrous hair.

  17. I live only about 170 miles from Atlantic City (3 hours according to Google Maps, which seems to have no clue about traffic on the Belt and Garden State Parkways), but have gone there only once c. 1985 to give a business presentation. I have zero interest in gambling.

  18. The last time I went to Vegas I won $1,000! I got a royal flush on some machine! Super fun:). Looks like a fun family vacay. I’ve always wanted to do a R&R half…Vegas would be a fun place to do it!

  19. Ha, I only give Vegas $5 for its chance to give me a million dollars. After that, I have better crap to do. So I guess I’m an even bigger tightwad than you 🙂 (And I use that term proudly!)

  20. I have gambled in a about 6 casinos in the last 8 years. I have probably lost a total of $100, but risked at least $100 on each trip. On of my recent trips while on a business trip, I went in with $120 and walked away from the first table I sat down at with $250. Of course, I decided to take my “winnings” and play some more. I ended up leaving the casino with $25 more than I came in with – anything positive amount is good because if everyone did that casinos wouldn’t exist.

    I fully recognize the cost of gambling as a means of entertainment and not income. I enjoy the thrill of risking my money and the conversations with the dealers and other patrons. As a result, I would never put money into a slot machine – the winnings are predetermined by an algorithm programmed when the machine was built. At least at a table, there is a possibility of winning, even if it is statistically minute.

  21. I don’t gamble. But I have played slots a couple random times in my life. I basically feel like I’m playing that Claw game, aka I’m just giving a machine money and pushing buttons, maybe (rarely) I get a prize but I go in knowing that isn’t usually the case.

  22. I share your distaste for gambling in casinos and I especially hate playing texas hold em at the casino! You are with a bunch of people you don’t know and don’t want to know and you are in danger of losing your hard earned money to someone who likely plays a lot more often then you do. NOT FUN!

    Now, a game of poker with friends and $20 on the line sounds about my speed. Losing to random at casino, just sucks. I will only play blackjack for 30 minutes max if I end up in a casino and that is just be social and get a “free” drink… (not so free is it..)

  23. I very rarely visit casinos. Three times to be exact! I usually designate $20-40 for gambling or recreation. That is the most I am willing to lose.

  24. I LOOOOVE VEGAS!! I’m perfectly happy to walk up and down The Strip people watching; I’d rather do that than gamble. I’n in awe at the lights at night! Hubby and I have been twice (back to back wedding anniversary trips), supposed to go a 3rd time 2 years ago, but Hubby got really sick, so sick, doc wouldn’t let him fly, so we had to cancel… we’ll go again, I’m sure. I’m not a gambler, but we have a daily gambling budget that we save for ($100/day on a 4 day trip, and I’m happy just to use $20 at the Wheel of Fortune slot). I once put in $20 (waved goodbye to it), and within 3 pulls, I more than doubled my money to $47… and cashed out. Hubby said, “Can you at least wait until I lose my $20?” Last trip, Hubby was up a total of $400, and spent about $200 on a surprise night helicopter ride for us… which was AWESOME!!! We came home with $200 more in our pocket 🙂

    I don’t like giving my money away (unless it’s to a worthy cause or charity), but Vegas has something for everyone.

    Your Dad is not what I pictured, but he looks like a cool guy! Glad you had a great time! 🙂

  25. Not a gambler by any means. One time I played $100 and I turned it into $1200 within 30 minutes. Once I realized how much the chips were worth in front of me, I quickly got up! I was playing three card poker.

    I have $100 to the two people I was with and pocketed some good cash! That was about 2 years ago…haven’t been back since!

  26. I used to live in Oklahoma, and we used to hit the casinos as a form of entertainment. We’d usually play the penny slots with $10 or so, and it took about an hour to lose that much in pennies. I considered it a similar time frame and cost as it would be to go to a movie or go out to dinner, so it was just another way to hang out with friends. I never went in assuming I’d “strike it rich”! The house always wins!

  27. My one & only Vegas experience was pure birthday luck: I strolled up to the roulette table with my shiny, $1 chip and proudly laid it on the table. The man running the table laughed loudly, yelling, “SWEETHEART, really?!” as he pointed to the ‘$5 minimum’ sign I had blissfully missed. My first instinct was, “Ewww…I don’t want to gamble a whole 5 DOLLARS!” but I dutifully counted out four more chips. I ended up hitting the number and getting a boatload of chips pushed my way. The guy next to me decided I was his lucky charm (a la SATC) and matched whatever I put down. 25 minutes–and a large crowd gathered around–later, I walked away with over $400 in my pocket. I didn’t gamble a single time again for the remainder of the trip…I essentially made Lady Luck my b!tch. 😀

    If I were to return, I’d try my luck at the $1 chip on the roulette table trick for $hits & giggles, but that’s about it!

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