It means that I know what a “hard eight” pays on a $5 bet. ($40.) I know what cards not to split when playing blackjack (everything but aces and eights), and I know the best time to try your luck on the slots at the airport (NEVER!).
If someone would have told me when I first set eyes on Sin City two decades ago that I would still be here, married and raising twin sons, I would have put every cent in my pocket on the house because the odds they were wrong were a sure thing. Little did I know I would meet my wonderful wife, get married a couple years later, and then shortly thereafter be blessed with two wonderful boys.
Thinking back to my days as a single man in the gambling mecca — the drinking, the gambling, the late nights — I realize that raising children and living the life of a gambler really isn’t all that different.
1. There are good days and bad days.
Anyone who’s ever spent any time around casinos knows there are days when everything you touch turns to gold. Just sitting down at the bar to grab a morning coffee can change your entire day. I’ve thrown a 10 dollar bill in a quarter poker machine as I waited for the bartender to pour my java, and within a few hands hit a four-of-a-kind. Talk about starting the day on a high note! I’ve also had every machine I touched turn cold and eat every nickel I put in without even the courtesy of a thank you. Life with children is very similar. Some days my sons wake up all sunshine and roses, and other days they spend the entire day reminding you that they woke up on the wrong side of the crib.
2. You can be nervous at first, but then you eventually get the hang of it.
One of the most common things I hear from visitors (other than “You have slot machines in the grocery store?”) is that they have always wanted to try and play craps but were scared because it seemed too complicated. I guess people think the same thing about children. What confuses people about the game of craps is that there are so many different bets. If you focus on three main bets — The Pass Line, The Don’t Pass and the Field — it actually isn’t that difficult. Babies have three things to focus on as well. If they are fussing, they are either hungry, sleepy, or have a dirty diaper. My opinion? Craps is easier.
3. Everyone seems to have a system.
I used to have an employee who was always looking for a way to beat the odds. He would pay $1,000 for a “sure-fire system” and then spend the next six months testing it. He’d often warn me that my time with him was limited because he was absolutely positive that his purchase was going to set him up for a ride on easy street and I shouldn’t be surprised if one day I opened up and he didn’t show up for his shift because he was on his way to Monte Carlo. Less than a year later he would come into work all excited about another great system he purchased when the last failed, this one using the opposite rules of the first. He was always excited to share his opinions about gambling, but it’s hard to take anyone serious who lost as much and as often as he did. The only Monte Carlo he ended up visiting was the casino with the same name next to his job. Everyone has their way of doing things and in turn has opinions on the best way to raise children. Before accepting that person’s advice, I would first look at the person’s track record. Are his children a far cry from where you see the future of yours? Maybe it’s time to sell that person a system.
4. No matter where you do it, it’s really pretty similar.
I have gambled in Vegas, on riverboats, in Indian casinos and even in Canada. What’s different? Not much. The odds are sometimes altered, I’ve used special tokens instead of actual money, and some places make you pay for drinks. How is raising children in Nevada dissimilar than in Montreal, or Monte Carlo? The food might be different as well as routines and customs, but the general principal is exactly the same. I have found that all you need is a little determination, and a little luck!
A version of this first appeared on Double Trouble Daddy.