Wendover • Occasionally I have to remind myself that I have a gambling problem. On a recent Saturday, I went to Wendover and lost every cent I had. It took all of a minute.
Gambling is a problem for me. It isn't that I can't control myself. My gambling problem is that I never win. Ever.
Just to make sure this time, Sonny came along and helped me lose. He's good at that. The last time I bet with him, I ended up with a tattoo.
I don't recall which casino we went into for the purpose of losing. We weren't there long enough. I do recall an enormous room was filled with flashing lights, electrical clatter, and the overriding smell of tobacco and Preparation H. It could have been any of them, I guess.
On the bright side, all I had to lose was 10 bucks. I gave Sonny half of it. We picked a couple of slot machines, stuffed money into them, pushed the buttons maybe a total of six times, and I was broke.
Satisfied once again that I have a problem, we drove home. Sonny had to buy lunch.
Some people can gamble OK. These are people with a reasonable expectation that they'll win at least once in a while. If not a lot, they at least win enough to remain encouraged.
I am not saying that gambling is bad (although it is when I do it). I'm saying some people shouldn't gamble. People like me, of which there's only one that I know of.
Gamblers who win have three things that I don't self control, some rudimentary understanding of math, and the ability to pay attention to something for longer than 30 seconds (in a row).
My first foray into gambling was a junior high school bus stop when we lived in Las Vegas. Before and after school, guys matched nickels and dimes. Since this was a rough crowd, I lost even when I won.
ME: "Hey, I'm pretty sure that quarter was mine."
FRANKIE: "Hey, I'm pretty sure you'd need a face to spend it."
They're right about crime and gambling being connected.
Not having learned my lesson, I next tried poker at scout camp. When the scoutmaster fell asleep, we played by flashlight inside our tents.
It was cutthroat poker. If you ran out of money, you could stay in the game with merit badges. I still owe one of the Leavitt twins (I forget which) corn farming, bugling and atomic energy.
Later, in the Army, we played Acey Deucey in the barracks. Slapping cards down on a blanket-covered footlocker, guys lost their entire month's pay before they even got it.
There isn't much worse than getting paid very little to do something you hate and then not being able to keep the money you were paid for doing it. That's about as much sense as gambling ever made.
Then I got married and discovered that I had a gambling problem my wife. She thinks even 50 cents dumped into a slot machine is 50 cents that could have been better spent onâ¦well, anything.
She's never forgiven me for the time I gambled in front of our kids. On our way to Disneyland in 1981, we stopped in Vegas for lunch.
On the way out of the restaurant, I thought it would be a valuable lesson if I showed my girls what happens to money put into a slot machine. I dropped in three nickels and pulled the handle.
Do you know how long it takes a nickel slot to pay off $20 in nickels? Forever. Long enough to convince a bunch of kids that it's a good idea.
I didn't win then either. For starters, I never heard the end of it. Also, I didn't get to keep any of the money. Our daughters lugged a bucketful of nickels around Disneyland looking for slot machines.
Robert Kirby can be reached at email@example.com or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.