Each of us who plays poker has similarly minded friends who live, breathe, and eat poker. We can't get enough. Same thing with the casino games players, it seems. While I don't really understand the allure of a craps table, obviously it is a hugely popular pastime. It is the long hours that gamers put in that help the casinos build beautiful establishments, meet their bottom line, and pay the bills.
"Good for them," I say, they've found not only a great business model, but tricks where they can fool us into playing more! How do they do it? Do they use gimmicks to suck us in? Let me tell you some of the great tricks the casinos use to keep us playing long and hard.
Have you ever noticed how cold it is in most casinos? Well, don't feel like a wimp for bringing a jacket with you in the mid summer when it's 110 degrees outside in Las Vegas. The casinos know that keeping it cold keeps you awake and active. Certainly, these are good traits for a gambler, aren't they?
How about those baccarat pits? Have you ever noticed how fancy and elegant the special rooms are? They dress the staff up in tuxedos and gowns and make it seem so dang high end. Why? Well, if you ask me, it's because the game is so darned stupid! It has something to do with being the closest to a nine count in cards. The only decision the gambler makes is to bet on the house, and pay a percentage if it wins, or bet on the player. You don't stand, hit, or double as you do in blackjack ... you don't do anything.
What about the carpet in your favorite casino? Have you ever noticed how loud it is? There are lots of patterns and designs and wild colors. I always thought it was so that if you dropped a chip you'd be less likely to find it. Now I hear it has something to do with the visual cues the brain gets. The busy pattern makes you want to raise your eyes-right back to table level! Intriguing, eh?
Did you ever wonder what time it was while you were at the tables? Yeah, me too, and I had to put on my cheaters to see my watch. That's right; there are seldom any clocks in a casino. They don't care if you're late for an appointment or meal, they want you to play and not realize how long you've been there. They are happy when you lose track of time. The longer you stay, the better they do. It's all about volume, of course!
What about the skimpy outfits the waitresses wear? Don't you think there's an ulterior motive there? That's right ... it stimulates a fun party atmosphere, a place where you'd like to stay a while longer, right?
Have you ever wondered why a casino uses chips rather than cash? Not only does it count and transfer quicker, but it doesn't seem real and you can easily get caught up gambling when it's "just chips" rather than the tactile cash we know pays the bills. Of course, as poker players, we never fall into these traps, do we? We're playing poker, a game we know can be beaten through study and practice. For a winning player, the more hours you play, the more money you will win. The house doesn't care who wins in poker, as long as you play! It's all just some fun food for thought.
• • • IN MEMEMORIAM • • •
Growing up in the poker world in the late 70s, Byron Liggett was a fixture at the final tables as one of poker's first journalists. I made some of those tables, and win, lose, or draw, Byron always had a smile and something upbeat to say. During one of his more flavorful write-ups-no one could or ever will write like him-he penned "the Fisher flopped, floundered, and failed." I always will remember those words. I could always count on him for a serious hug whether I was a winner or a loser. Byron Liggett passed away earlier this month. I miss my friend Byron and am sad for those of you who didn't know him. He was a diamond in the rough, for sure.