I’ve played Hold ‘Em twice in my life, both times as a participant in my office’s quarterly tournament. My first time playing, I came in second place. For all the skill and experience of the other players, I managed to “catch cards” and bluff adequately enough to make it to the tournament’s intense, forehead sweating, one-on-one throwdown. I walked away with $30, $25 better than the $5 I forked ove rfor the buy-in. Easy money!
The experience was pure adrenaline. I loved it. I walked back to my car that night thinking that I’d missed out on years of paycheck-doubling opportunities. I couldn’t wait to play again.
The second time out, I was one of the first people sent home. All traces of enthusiasm felt from my first “big win” had disappeared. My poker career was over. Reason had returned.
Gambling is a fun, momentary, rush, and I’m open to it on a very superficial, non-financially threatening, level. Like most of my friends, I try to remember to buy a Mega Millions ticket every Friday. When I’m in the Mega Millions moment, I’ll also buy a scratch-off or two. When I had to stopover at the Vegas airport on my way from Burbank to Chicago, I happily zoned out in front of the slots for an hour to kill time, which found me blowing through $60 in 60minutes. What happens in Vegas…is usually more interesting than that. Not much of a story there, sorry.
I know people who’ve made a career of gambling, sleeping in by day and clenching their buttcheeks by night as they go “all in” with pocket fours in an attempt to make rent. Gambling for a living is an evolution of one’s vice, a transformation of “bad habits” into something consistent and viable. I’m not wired to even understand what that sort of life would be like. Living paycheck-to-paycheck is stressful, sure,but at least the paycheck is a “sure thing” throughout the duration of one’s employment.
Roeper mentioned the solitary nature of gambling, and I believe that to be true. I also think that most regular gamblers have a masochistic streak, something that’s written into the very games they play. How else to explain the uttering of “Hit me” during Blackjack?