5 tips to keep you alert and playing at your best
by Bill Burton
Reality is suspended, as you enter a fantasy world where there are no windows or clocks…
I remember my very first trip to Las Vegas many years ago. Although I’d been to the casinos in Atlantic City, I was completely in awe of the “City of Lights.” I wanted to see everything. I went sightseeing during the day, went to shows in the evening, and then spent the majority of my evenings playing marathon sessions in the casino.
I was there for five nights and may have gotten a total of 15 hours sleep. I came home completely exhausted from my trip. I had gotten caught up in the frenzy of the full-throttle Vegas casino atmosphere.
After talking with others, I found out that I was not alone. This is a common occurrence, especially among those who are new to the Las Vegas casino experience. I learned that when in Vegas, even hardcore, veteran players sometimes feel compelled to cram in as much playing as possible during their visit.
In a recent Internet poll, 22 percent of respondents said they had an average playing session of one to two hours, but 25 percent said their sessions lasted more than five hours. Several said they often played for 10–14 hours at a time. Some of these players said the reason for the marathon sessions was that they do not get to visit the casino very often. A few admitted the reason they played for long hours was because they got fully immersed in the games and lost all track of time.
The sights and sounds of the casino are designed to make you lose yourself in the atmosphere. Reality is suspended as you enter a fantasy world where there are no windows or clocks. When you sit down to play the slots, the spinning reels on the machines can have a hypnotic effect. This is similar to a phenomenon many people experience while driving their cars for long periods of time. It’s called “highway hypnosis.”
Anyone who has driven long distances has probably encountered a mental state called “highway hypnosis.” This usually occurs when you are driving on a long, straight road at a constant speed. Your body becomes relaxed, and the lines in the road send your brain into a subconscious state. Before you know it, you’ve become lulled into a passive trance. You arrive at your destination with no recollection of having actually driven there, or any understanding of the time it took you to arrive.
When you are in this state, your conscious and subconscious minds go in different directions. You are, essentially, in a hypnotic trance. Workers performing simple and repetitive tasks, and people deprived of sleep, are likely to experience similar symptoms.
These same symptoms can occur with slot players who deprive themselves of proper sleep and nutrition, as they spend hours sitting in front of the slot machines playing their favorite games. Instead of watching lines in the center of the road, they’re staring at the spinning reels of the slot machine while performing the repetitive task of hitting the spin button. They are lulled into a state of state of “slot hypnosis,” which causes them to lose all track of time. Thus, they are not aware of how long they have been playing the machines.
Helpful Hints To Overcome This
If you find yourself hammering away at the slots for longer than you planned to, here are five things you can do from now on to keep yourself in the right frame of mind:
1. Schedule breaks after a certain number of hours of play — and then stick with the plan and get up from the machine.
2. Wear a watch when you go to the casino, and make it a habit to check it occasionally. If you’re by yourself, you can set the alarm on your watch, phone or iPod to remind you when it’s time to stand up, take a breather, and assess your situation.
3. If you go to the casino with friends, plan on meeting them at a specific time for lunch, dinner, or just to take a break. This creates a “break off point” where you will get away from the machine and clear your head.
4. If you’re playing with friends who are seated nearby, stop for a few seconds and chat between spins. You can socialize and play at the same time, and this will help keep you from losing track of time.
5. Don’t constantly stare straight into the screen; keep your eyes moving while you are playing. This will help prevent you from fixating on the machine, and will make you more aware of your surroundings. Stay alert!
We all want to have a good time when we visit the casino, but the whole experience is a lot less enjoyable when we come home exhausted after playing marathon sessions. Use these tips to avoid getting caught up in the game. Stay in control when you play, and you will have a much better time.
Until next time, remember: Luck comes and goes…but knowledge stays forever.
Bill Burton is the author of 1,000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold ’em, which are available online at www.billburton.com. He’s also an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com