Can I get a Coke?

Gambling was a relatively small part of my life. Early on, we would go to the horserace track nearby at the Meadowlands. I went maybe a half dozen times in the mid 70’s and it really didn’t do anything for me. The horses go around one lap and that’s it. I’m not a really big fan of NASCAR but at least they go around the track a bunch of times.

Then I went on a bus trip to Atlantic City in 1980. I went with $100 to gamble with. So I go right to the blackjack table and when I sit down it’s a $5 per hand table. About a minute later someone comes by and announces that this is now a $15 table. I’m getting screwed and I haven’t even started playing yet. I look over the dealer’s shoulder across the room and notice a sign that says, “Bet with your head. Not over it” which is right next to another sign that tells you how you can win $493 bazillion dollars playing a slot machine. Well I didn’t come very close to winning $493 bazillion and an hour later the $100 was gone and the bus to take us home was scheduled to leave 5 hours later than now. I’ve got an unanticipated 15 cents in my pocket and 5 hours until lift-off.

I managed to get a can of soda and was sipping away in the casino when a security guy comes up to me, advises me I can’t drink that in here and I have to go outside. Okey dokey. No worries. So I’m hanging out outside on the steps with a can of Coke in my hand wondering why everyone in that building is walking around with a drink, but I need to be standing out here. Maybe a should have gotten a Pepsi…

Getting booted out of the casino was a blessing in disguise because I realized I didn’t like losing my money, I didn’t like losing my money as I watched other people winning money and I really didn’t like all the crowds and noise. It was not fun. So, for the rest of the day I wandered aimlessly until the bus arrived thinking, “Why don’t I just toss $100 into the fireplace next time? It would be so much easier and save a lot of time.”

My casino days ended that day, but not long after that we started having nice, friendly family poker games each week. These games started out all fun and happy, but the stakes kept going up each week, tempers flared more and more often and when we had to cover the losses with a check, it was time for a break. The games eventually fizzled out probably in the early 90’s.

In retrospect, I look at all of it as a “Sounded like a good idea at the time” kind of thing…

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