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Encore / Cosmo Last Fall, Sharing a Terrible Gambling Ending

Discussion in 'Vegas Trip Reports' started by CVG2LAS, Mar 16, 2014.

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  1. CVG2LAS

    CVG2LAS Tourist

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    My Trip Report

    This is a very late trip report. From last fall. Because I lost. I lost more than double the amount that I quasi-planned. But I did it after being up big. This is the worst kind of loss. For awhile, I didn’t really feel like thinking about it, and I definitely didn’t want to write about it. Other than the disastrous gambling towards the trip’s end, it was one of the best trips I ever had.

    Now, I have had 1 solid Vegas trip since, I had one other trip where I didn’t even gamble (a first), and I will have other great trips soon. But I don’t think ignoring or glossing over this ugly-ending-gambling trip is the proper thing to do. So I am going to write about it. Some of the details are vague, as it’s been some time. Except the final loss, that number is not something I have forgotten.

    For me, Vegas trips (these days) are much more than just gambling (unlike the earlier days). To be honest, I still do love the gambling, especially when so many of my trips have including winning -- particularly in recent years. If you’ve experienced this, you know what I mean. There is a rush that comes from staying in a 5 star hotel (for free), having great dining and drinking experiences (for free), and coming home with an extra 1k, 5k, 20k. The first time it happens, it seems impossible. But it happens. Frequently. It seems to happen more frequently to table game players (imo). It happens even after being down a ton. And when it does, it’s a rush. The free stuff, the feeling of extra (free) cash, living higher than in normal life – all combine to make up a compelling & addicting experience. Its an experience that's so great, I am willing to lie to myself, or at least allow myself to ignore the truth about the math involved, or the truth about the psychological hazards.

    My style of play produces more winning sessions than losing. However, with that same style, when I do have a losing session, there is the potential for it to be large. I am not a martingale system player, but I am sometimes willing to go deep to hit a winning streak – almost martingale-like. And sometimes my comebacks involve amping up my bets as it seems the winning streak must be around the corner. Hello Gambler's Fallacy. This is not a great strategy. The best strategy will bet more when winning, less when losing. But that isn’t the most exciting strategy. So sometimes betting more when losing can be more exciting and more profitable. However, sometimes those winning streaks don't ever show up. The trip I am writing about is one of these other kind of trips, the kind where the come-back efforts fail. A trip where in one 4 hour period, I lost all discipline, and in an exhausted and semi-drunken state I gave up all my winnings – winnings that took 4 days of careful & lucky gambling to build.

    For more than a I year prior to this trip, I had been on quite a streak – both in Vegas and at regional casinos. I travel domestically almost every week. And usually not a month goes by where I don’t have at least 1 gaming experience. And when I am winning more than I am losing, it becomes much more fun, and I am much more prone to spend more time in this….activity.

    Before I tell you the specifics of this trip, let me announce that I do not believe I have a traditional gambling problem as I define a problem. So you non-gamblers that don’t really understand, it might be reasonable for you to pass judgment or concern here – but please do not. You see, whenever I finally give up and “realize” a loss, I have zero compulsion to go back soon and “win it back”. I just stop playing for awhile. Also, I have never lost more than I could comfortably afford, or would even impact my life…..at least in the last 15 years. So when I am honest about my numbers, keep in mind that everything is mostly relative. (Here I go, already being defensive.)

    Unfortunately, what is clear is that I do have a propensity to demonstrate an “intra session” gambling……weakness (that's sounds better than problem). I confront the fact that I am capable of losing reasonable discipline, and last fall’s trip proved that. I gave away significant winnings. Then I went way beyond what I wished to risk, which is annoying. I am competitive, stubborn, and the eternal optimist – and sometimes when in the heat of the battle I ignore my preplanned loss limits and rationalize deeper risks than originally planned. My optimism comes from so many prior come backs, some of them miraculous. So I can’t beat myself up too much (defensive again). Still, it’s experiencing that temporary weakness and the resulting financial feeling it can cause that might be the biggest turn off when it comes to gaming. So here is what happened.

    It was a 4 night trip in November. 2 nights at Encore with my wife (who likes to gamble too) and 2 other couples. Then on Sunday, the wives left, and a new group arrives – all of us staying at Cosmo, where I have done the most gambling in recent years. This group includes 5 guys in town for the IBM conference. These days, I don’t go to the conference, but being in town for it is sort of a tradition, and a great excuse to get together. Each of this group is a fairly hard core gambler, and each have significant means. So yea, there is some subtle purple chip peer pressure.

    But the first days of the trip were awesome. Encore is just an incredible hotel. In our two days, my wife and I enjoyed the spa, Café Society, Wynn buffet, the show La Reve, drinks and laughs with the other couples, and even a couple hours in Surrender. It was the offseason for a pool club, yet Surrender was fairly packed anyway.

    Gambling wise, on the first night, the wife and I managed to lose $2k playing blackjack. I eased into the trip by playing $100 - $150/ hand, while she played $25. We have a blast playing together. But this night I did not have any stubborn streak. We got down a bit, and just went to bed.

    The next morning we woke up painfully early, like 6 AM, as that's what happens when you are still on east coast time and you went to bed at such a responsible time the prior night (1 am). So, after hitting the Wynn buffet, we had another gambling session. Gambling, mimosas, coffee & Baileys, Coronas, cards, and no kids - basically the opposite of our normal Saturday morning life. And, about as much fun as one can have on a Saturday prior to 10 AM. Unfortunately, we quickly lost another 1.5k playing blackjack. Instead of fully engaging in a blackjack battle, we moved over to a slower, more relaxed 3 Card Poker game. We bought in for $1k, most of remaining $5k I brought with me. (Generally I bring about $5k and will use that before tapping any LOC or ATM). I remember feeling that I was probably going to lose (I rarely win at 3 card), but feeling that it was good to not get to involved in BJ. Sure enough, while the wife was holding her own playing red chips, I slowly lost most of my green chips – playing $25 - $40 on the ante and pairs plus. But I think I was feeling resigned to it. When I got down to 6 green chips, I put them all on the line, just wanting to be done. $50 in the pairs plus bonus, $50 in the ante, and $50 on play (playing blind). The dealer qualified with a high card, but I hadn’t looked at my hand. It was shocking when she turned over my cards, and I had trip 3’s! That pays 30-1 on the pairs plus. I did not play any further. After cashing out, we instantly went from being almost tapped to having about $2k of the roll intact. As it happens so often, our luck continued as we went back to a $25 blackjack table and quickly combined to win another $1500, half of which came from the wife. She won about 10 hands in a row. So feeling great, and within spitting distance of being even (well, kind of), we decided to take a break. We had a little morning buzz (fun), and it was past 10 am (shops are open).

    We had a great Vegas Day. Picked up our Zarkana tickets at Aria. Shopped at Cosmo. Wife was able to turn a bunch of my identity points into a couple of dresses (guilt free). I was able to rationalize $500 worth of shirts at Stitched (but I charged them to a credit card, as I wasn’t up for the trip and I needed to protect my “roll” – later I regretted that). Went back to the Encore for afternoon Spa / amazing massage. Met the other couples for afternoon drinks. Napped. Ordered room service. Just a fantastic Vegas day.

    As the evening approached, I decided to use the 60 minute, difference-in-get-ready-times between my wife and I for a little higher stakes BJ. I went down, found an empty $100 table by the crystal peacock. I bought in for $2k. My base bet was $200. I won right off the bat. 10 – 15 minutes later, after an amazing shoe with lots of double downs (that all went my way), BJ’s for me, dealer Aces (that turned into dealer busts), and many mini-streaks of consecutive wins, I cashed out for $8k. I was sober, and won so quickly, the session was almost shocking. To be honest, most of my bigger gambling comes with being “loosened up” with alcohol. So earlier on the day I was close to zero, I now had about $10k in my pocket. There is nothing like that feeling heading into a Vegas Saturday night. I liked that feeling so much that I decided to protect it, and forget about any real gambling the rest of the night. Instead we just went to Zarkana, then over to Hyde, then back to Surrender at Encore. Basically just partied with our friends.

    On Sunday morning, I went to the host desk to check my play. I wasn’t surprised to learn that over 2 days, I had only played 2 hours at average bet of $220. And they had me up $5k. And, I was already staying on a free room offer. All pointed out to me by the host as he explained that there would be no additional consideration for my room charges. Of course, I was OK with that. I believe this was the least amount of time I had ever gambled in Vegas when not on a work-related trip. But I knew the next portion of the trip would be more intense. And it was.

    With my wife limo’d off to the airport, I transitioned over to the Cosmopolitan for part 2 of the trip.

    Early afternoon, I met up with the other 5 guys at China Poblano. We think it's a great concept – ½ Asian, ½ Mexican. 2 separate show kitchens, everything made from scratch. "Dim Sum, Queso Fundido, and Salt Foam Margaritas" -- that is a combination that makes me happy. Our night basically started with that lunch, and never really stopped.

    By mid afternoon that Sunday, the party was on and we were all at the tables, hitting it hard. From that afternoon to bedtime, everything was fun. Everywhere I went, I was running very hot. The first action involved redeeming $1600 in free play chips. At the BJ table, I was able to convert those chips into $1k in real money, which is actually great considering their 1 time use.

    Then 2 of us hit a bad streak. Playing between $200 - $400 a hand, I lost all my cash and was into my LOC for $5k. But it didn’t last long. At just the right time, I increased my base bet to $500, and went on a streak. By the time we finished, I had enough to pay off my credit and have $13k left, putting me up $8k for the trip. We decided to take a break and walk over to Caesars to say hello to some friends who were in town. After lots of drinks (and shots) and laughs in the seahorse bar (or whatever that aquarium theme is), we dabbled in a little BJ in their “pleasure pit”. I started off playing conservatively (the rules suck) and lost 1k. Then I upped my bets and went on another heater and ended up winning 3k. We said goodbye to our friends and went back to Cosmo. We realized we hadn’t had dinner, so we hit Secret Pizza for some basic substance.

    Back at the Cosmo casino, I won another $5k on Craps when one of group went on a super heater while I was bases-loaded and $75 on the hardways. I am usually not this aggressive at craps, but when I am up, and buzzed, I tend to buy all the numbers and bet come bets until I have the board covered.

    Then 3 of us pooled some money on a $25k WOF machine and won $4k (I took the tax liability). We celebrated that win with more cocktails and shots. The rest is super blurry. My friends tell me I won a little at just about every table we hit. I do remember realizing that I was up a ton, I had all my money on me, split into 3 bulging pockets, which I thought was fun. But I was at my maximum for alcohol, and somehow my brain realized that it would be a good idea to go to bed. So I was the first to head to the room – at 3 am, which is rare for me. My wife was actually proud of me for this. I am usually the degenerate that stays up all night when my friends are around.

    I woke up Monday morning with a foggy head that was comforted by $23,000 piled in the safe. Up about $18k. Probably up for gambling about $20k, as I easily spent 2k in cash on tips, nightclubs, and other expenses. Close to one of my bigger wins ever. I was free that Monday, my last day, and I ended up spending most of the day sleeping, working in my room, and basically staying away from gambling or alcohol. Resting up for one more fun night. I remember doing a lot of self-coaching about staying away from any big stakes that night, protecting the big win, etc. Had you asked me that quiet afternoon if there was any chance of me losing, I would have guaranteed you that there was not. But I was wrong.

    One of the group met me in the afternoon to walk the strip and have drinks here and there. We did a little shopping, and took in the sites. I had $5k on me and $18k in the safe, but gambling was not on my mind. By evening time, our group of 5 met at STK in Cosmo for a big dinner. $200 Kobe Beef steak? Why not? That steak runs $40/ per ounce, and that night, it was one of the best things I had ever had. Of course the wine was flowing and the mood was great. I have had that same steak since, and it was not even close to the same experience.

    Post dinner, the group descended on the casino for some last night fun. For the first 2 – 3 hours, I played, but I avoided playing black jack. A little Ultimate Texas Holdem (win $1k). 50 play Video Poker (lost $500). Some 3-way shared $5.00 slot machines (won a few hundred). I was basically playing lighter, just trying to have fun with my friends. But I was still winning. The drinks were flowing, and so were the laughs. Then, around 11 PM, one of the group suggested we give a try at Hi Limit BJ. Though I was leery of “engaging”, I was flush and really wasn't feeling any fear. You see, that’s where the real excitement is for me. Higher limit BJ. And over the next 4 hours, at an impossible rate, everything went downhill. I hit the switch.

    Session after session, I lost. My base bet was $300 - $500, and I would often double after a win. But there were few win streaks. I think I lost 90% of my double downs. I ran cold, cold, cold. I made 2 trips to the room to empty my safe. I tried many different tables, in the hi-limit room and on the main floor (but never the talon room). At first, I continued drinking. ½ way thru this crash, I switched to water. I had the “fever”, and there was no stopping, even as I sobered up. Here is an image depicting how I rationalized my activity at each stage of the disaster. BLOWUP.jpg

    Around 3 AM, after losing all my cash, and my credit line impossibly maxed at $20k, and another $2k in ATM withdrawals, I finally gave up. I had gone from up $20k to down $27k. This was my lifetime biggest loss, and an absolutely ridiculous trip-swing. It happened so fast, I was having trouble getting my mind wrapped around it.

    My wife, waking up on east coast time, knew it before I even called. Women and their 6th sense. But I never lie to her about gambling, and I had to share the news of my loss / self-destructive behavior. Embarrassing. And probably the for first time ever, she was angry. That wasn’t helping me psychologically. My lowest point was right then, as I was actually contemplating on going back down and continuing to play. But thankfully, I did not. Somehow I was able to fall asleep.

    I had all the next day to think about my severe change in outcomes. Financially, it is not a significant issue to handle that size loss. It’s psychologically that takes more work. Paul Newman said “Money won is twice as sweet.” This is true. But money lost is three times as sour. Money lost gambling is certainly worse than money spent, or money stolen, or money lost in the stock market, or just about any other form of spending. Because of the stupid factor, or the loss of control factor, or the stubbornness factor. Or, maybe for the fear that I might do it again, to the point where it does impact my life.

    One thing is for sure, the loss did overshadow all the great experiences I had that weekend. I spent quite a few days fairly upset, where I should have been reflecting on what was an incredible vacation weekend. However, writing a check for $20k to “Casino Credit” is a big downer. Then discovering $2k in various trip charges on my credit card felt extra dumb, as I could have used cash. For weeks, I had no desire to even think about gambling. But that feeling doesn’t last long. Particularly when I had some normal-life financial wins.

    Two months later, my play money fund was fully funded, and I found myself playing here and there. And winning……a lot.

    Did I learn a lesson from the bad trip? Only time will tell.
     
  2. yojimbo1

    yojimbo1 Tourist

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    This is an AWESOME report......thanks for your honesty.

    I think most of us have experienced a version of what you shared. Coming home with a big loss after being up a lot is no fun.
     
  3. alanleroy

    alanleroy Tourist

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    I enjoyed your write up. The non-technical name for this is 'Going on Tilt'. I've experienced the same damn thing, but not at your stakes....that's all relative.

    For all the reasons you pointed out this it is likely not a sign of 'destructive compulsive gambling', but I'm guessing "going on tilt" is really some kind of psychological phenomenon....maybe even one that hasn't really been studied. Or maybe it is a sign of the potential to become a compulsive gambler, but most people are able to learn from it or roll it back before going off the deep end.

    I only know for sure that I've experienced it too. Interestingly I think the game has something to do with it. In your case it's blackjack. In mine, it's craps. I never go on tilt unless I'm playing craps.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  4. Bommen

    Bommen High-Roller

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    Great report, just to bad it ended on a sour note. I have a question about Stitched. Did you get tailored shirts and if so how long did it take for them to finish them?
     
  5. Royal Flusher

    Royal Flusher Savvy Gambler

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    Well, that was an excellent piece of writing. Very engaging, and honestly told.

    I think we have all experienced some degree of this. I haven't had a huge win on a trip followed by a reversal into losses, but I did have my biggest ever losing trip last time around - all while blogging it daily.

    After 4 or 5 days I wanted to crawl into a hole and never post again. I soldiered on and continued to finish the trip, which had a fun-factor of about turd out of 100. But I couldn't bear to continue to post specific loss numbers.

    So I appreciate what it takes to write something like this. I consider it part of my education... I am forever trying to master the psychological component of going on tilt, and never quite make it.
     
  6. TIMSPEED

    TIMSPEED !địt mẹ!

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    It happens to the best Of us...
    Happened to me in January... I turned a NEEDED $150 win, into an absolutely horrific $300 loss...(small numbers, but when you have ZERO income, they're huge)
    Like you said, only time will tell if we've learned from our mistakes
     
    Palace Tower Suite!
  7. CVG2LAS

    CVG2LAS Tourist

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    No tailoring. I bought 1 fitted Eton dress shirt and a few of their "gambling related" tshirts. Expensive store, but unique & cool mens clothes.
     
  8. Viva Las Vegas

    Viva Las Vegas Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

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    Excellent report and thanks for the honesty.

    I gambled the same way in the 1990s. I had bigger rushes (good and bad) and I craved the action, crashing and losing far more than I set out to. The regret and anger extended far beyond the sessions, through and beyond the point you paid off your markers and settled any atm/credit card advances.

    The comps add to the allure of "free money" and free typically ends up being an illusion. I've won just over 40% of my Vegas trips (17 winning trips vs. 25 losing trips), sticking mostly with BJ, Live Poker and recently VP (about half of my $ losses came from playing Strip VP vs. Full Pay VP). I've enjoyed nearly all my trips, good and bad, but the best memories come from the little things and pleasurable moments recalled years later, not the random wins and losses that make up gambling sessions. You'll always recall your good times and the Kobe steak dinner.

    I become more conservative after larger wins (instead of increasing the bets and exposure) to lock in a winning trip (say after a RSF or very good BJ runs). I have a better comfort level these days and I'm satisfied and accept a losing trip after it happens as long as I stay within my pre-trip limits (which fortunately I have been successful over the past several years). I still succumb to tilt sessions where I should walk away after a bad start or run. The memories of great comebacks and rallies are mind tricks which seem to haunt most gamblers. For the one time I turned $200 into $13K (in two solo shoes), I can recall dozens of times turning thousands into hundreds or zero.

    Gambling is like golf or baseball - the harder you try (or swing) the poorer your results. Easy to say that in the comfort of your home, not after being felted a fourth time and thinking "I can get this back, I've done it before" while sporting alcohol induced gambling muscles. Even playing with a nice sized positive count, there are times when you take your lumps while the dealer loads up on the 20s and BJs and you are knocked out even though you had the best chance of a positive outcome. It's a thin line we walk at the table.

    Hope you keep the current run going and thanks again for posting!
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2014
  9. Electroguy563

    Electroguy563 Over-Fried Gambler

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    Your Trip Report was riveting. Thank you for your honesty and courage to share this experience. We are all capable of going through what you did. I will take this experience you shared with us on my next trip.

    Good Luck and happy endings on your future trips!
     
    Going to Hawaii's 9th Island!!
    Going to Hawaii's 9th island!!
  10. mike841

    mike841 Low-Roller

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    Awesome trip report.....if it wasn't for the soul crushing huge losses after being up a ton, I don't know why I'd even keep gambling. Fantastic depiction of the "stages" too by the way!
     
  11. VDMTom

    VDMTom Low-Roller

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    I will definitely remember this when I go to Vegas in less than 2 weeks... maybe I'll just lock the $ in a safe til check out morning. lol.
     
  12. bbbaer

    bbbaer Tourist

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    fantastic written story.I never loose in LV.....always win 3-5 pounds...just money is short:peace:
     
  13. chess

    chess VIP Whale

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    What a hell of a report !!!!!
     
  14. rdwy29

    rdwy29 Low-Roller

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    Thank you for your candor. I'm sure it was much harder to write this kind of TR than a winning TR, but facts are facts. Can't imagine what it is like to write that kind of check to Casino Credit...but hopefully one day soon I can at least imagine it. Thanks again :beer:
     
  15. Dean Martin

    Dean Martin VIP Whale

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    That my friend.....was one hell of a TR. :nworthy:

    Life is funny that's for sure. I guess one way to look at it is; you can have a life with memories of a rush that lets you know you ARE ALIVE (anybody that's experienced it knows) or one that you are laying on your death bed and saying..."did I ever do anything in my life that really started my heart?"

    I've never experienced a gambling fiasco like you did but I sure did in the stock market about 8 yrs ago. Same scenario too so there's probably some psychcological connection. I was winning pretty big for quite a while and had really loaded up on a stock I just knew was going to beat earnings and pop. You all know what happens next. It didn't and after hours, I watched about $30K+ go by in 10 minutes and was just frozen. I honestly can't tell you what the bottom line loss was, that's how much I blanked it from my memory. I had the capability to trade AH but I was almost paralyzed and couldn't hit the button as I kept waiting for the dead cat bounce. It took me a while to shake it and can honestly say it made a pretty conservative investor out of me from there on out.

    Sounds like you're financially well off enough that the biggest thing that was hurt was your feelings and your ego. It also sounds like you're already back in the saddle but my guess is you will never let that happen again. Some would but you don't sound like "that guy".

    So....what the hell, life's short and a lesson was learned:beer:
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2014
  16. tringlomane

    tringlomane STP Addicted Beer Snob

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    This is a tale that needs to be occasionally mentioned in a TR. Reading all these winning TRs or "breakeven after comps" TRs is so misleading. If this happened ALL the time, casinos would easily be out of business.

    And with the exception of that one night, it sounded like you had a hell of a time! Thanks for sharing.

    And yep, I'm a loss chaser at heart. So I do my best to start off "slow" and/or give my g/f some of my money. My worst loss was half of my online poker bankroll in one weekend, for about a $5k loss. Blah. :vomit:
     
  17. agentq

    agentq Low-Roller

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    Great TR, thank you for sharing.
     
  18. Shauncho

    Shauncho Tourist

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    I needed to read a report like this before my upcoming trip. I hope this helps to keep me grounded on the casino floor. So have comfort in knowing that your bad trip is helping to make mine not a disaster.

    Damn, in all my trips to Vegas in my life combined, I don't think I've spent as much as you lost on that one trip...crazy.
     
  19. Dutch34

    Dutch34 Low-Roller

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    Fantastic report- one that is all-too-familiar for me (albeit, smaller limits, but I suppose it's all relative). Great honesty and great lessons to be had....thanks for posting.
     
  20. sco5123

    sco5123 VIP Whale

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    Your writing is nice. The story, and the happy ending, was powerful. It is quite insightful. Thanks for the honesty.
     
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